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The Synchronous Mechanical and Quality Development In Classical Ballet

Posted Aug 24 2008 7:25pm
The mechanical, or technical aspects of classical ballet technique(s) are always interrelated with the quality, or traditional grace of ballet. Ballet movement, and positions, while analyzed mechanically in detail for children and adult beginners, are not meant to be taught without the accompanying elegant quality that defines classical ballet. Whether professional or recreational, classical ballet is a source of elegance for our culture.



I remember a friend's story about doing a Classical Stretch workout at home, with her 4 year old daughter. They were doing warm ups with gentle arm movements. Her dad came along and joined in for a second. "No Papa" she corrected sternly. "It's like water is falling off the ends of your fingers!"



Being a soccer and karate jock, he moved on quickly.....



When I look at the many classical ballet studio websites, I love to browse the photo galleries or the videos they put up. All the aspiring professional ballet schools and more recreational or amateur dance studios show high energy, colorful performances and tons of enthusiasm. It is easy to see from their navigational bars that many have parent committees, and volunteer groups for every kind of support. Those ballet schools which do not contribute dancers to the pool of professional arenas definitely contribute volumes of inspiration and involvement in their communities. Such is the importance of dance and all the arts in our culture.



The inherent quality of grace in classical ballet and other dance forms has inspired the development of movement imagery, a whole field which addresses injury prevention, and pain management in rehabilitation - and much more. I know too little about it to comment further. Would like to learn more!



Learning the quality of demi plie, a tendu, and the way the arms are held in the basic ballet positions should be synchronized with the technical or mechanical details. In fact, how to separate the two should be a problem. Yet I've seen that happen.



I feel sad when I see a gifted dancer show off multiple pirouettes on a you-tube video - where her arms are stiff and her descent is abrupt. Why would she be neglected, to remain at her current regional level?



I feel the same when I see virtuoso leaps and spins from young male dancers, then see them at the barre slamming into over-crossed fifth positions, knees bent, hips rotating, in a speedy series of tendus. No time for foot pressure or thigh work. Why so fast when there are degages and frappes to develop skills for petit allegro? What will be the fate of those knee joints?



Quality, as much as technique and mechanics, prevents dance injuries. Synchronous mechanical and quality development IS the grace of classical ballet.



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