Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ballet for Elegance, Poise and Grace

Until one has taken a ballet class yourself, one has no idea how much work goes into their gracefulness

Ballet started in the 15th century and was developed to perfection in the French courts. It is rated on a measure of physical endurance, skill, physical demands, stamina, flexibility and a number of other scales to be the number two most difficult and challenging sport in the world. (Soccer is number one).

Until you have taken a ballet class yourself, one has no idea how much work goes into their gracefulness

Quite surprising isn’t it?

Ballet dancers always move with such grace, elegance, beauty and softness.

Yet there is so much strength, control and discipline of character that goes on behind the veil.

Ballet dancers have to

  • Practice every day for at least an hour
  • Maintain a very strict diet.
  • Attend a class at least 3 times a week.
  • Practice good sleeping habits.
  • Give up their careers should they decide to get pregnant.
  • Try very hard to get into a good ballet school
  • And then try very hard to get a job with a prestigious ballet company
  • Spend a fair amount on classes, ballet gear etc.
  • It’s pure devotion to the art.

There is a lot of work and research that went into developing the art of ballet. In ballet class, the exercises that are used are extremely different from your usual jogging, aerobics, cycling, step classes. You’ll never see similar routines in those exercises. Many of these exercises develop the inner thighs which slim the thigh instead of muscle-bulking it. We hardly use the inner thigh too much in our everyday life so it is important to focus on it. They strength your ankles and back and even your upper and lower abdomen, without all those nasty stomach crunches.

That doesn’t mean it is easy. I remember my ballet teacher telling us to jump in five sets of 16. And we had to point our toes as hard as we could point in the air, maintain a very still lifted body posture, keep a calm face (and not pant), arms have to be held gracefully including fingers and land each time softly and not with a huge “thump”. It was incredibly hard to do. The idea is to make it look so easy and effortless.

That is why in ballet, it always looks so easy. You may even dare to think, “I could do that!”

Recently when pilates and yoga became popular, I’ve noticed they incorporated a few exercises that resembled ballet. The probable difference is that ballet is done always upright at the barre and in the centre (of the studio without support) and never on lying down or on the floor.

I started ballet when I was about five but quit after a few years because all my friends left the class. I was upset that they left and so I did not continue, much to my regret later. I picked up ballet again in my late teens and vowed never to leave it. I was obsessed then, doing part time ballet school and university at the same time. I ached perpetually. While now I am not practicing to be a ballet dancer, it has good benefits. It provides exercise, maintains flexibility, it gives good posture. I have had friends who had back problems when they were growing up, have had their doctor recommended ballet classes.

More over, I’ve always been a dancer. I love dance and so I especially love the art of dance. No other dance is more graceful and beautiful than one of the oldest dance form in the world.

Read more about attending a ballet class in my article on The Elegant Woman

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