What Ballet Is Really Like

(Image via Central School of Ballet)

(Image via Central School of Ballet)

Morgan Cottrill, Writer

Based on your proper knowledge you might think that ballet is an art of just dancing and spinning with pink and tutus, but that could not be farther from the truth. It is an art that requires a lot of strength and mind power and dedication. Not saying it is that hardest of any sports but it is not what most think, so I’m going to clear things up once and for all.

We never wear pink or tutu! That could never be more from the truth and I’m not quite sure why people think that. We have to wear all black. If there is even a speck of another color we will get in trouble. We wear leotards that must be tight and we can wear a small tulle skirt or short but neither are optional. Most people at my studio do any of these things it just depends on what you like. At other companies or studios, things may be way more strict. Some places everyone must look the same and they all wear the same thing. Thankfully, my studio is quite relaxed compared to most. We can wear a leo we want as long as it meets the dress code.  

Teachers are very strict at most professional companies or studios. At my studio, we have all been dancing for many years and our teacher know us so they aren’t as strict because we have a special relationship. They aren’t mean but they can be sometimes if aren’t being respectful or aren’t giving something your “all”. As you get to know them and have been with them since you were little they become more relaxed because you have a relationship but you still have to be very respectful. 

When you are in class you have to act a certain way. Most of the class there is no talking unless it is a question directed to the teacher. It is very disrespectful to be talking. Also as a teacher begins to get to know you and your ability they are not so nice about you making mistakes or messing up, but you know they want you to improve so it is a correction from the heart. They don’t do it to be mean either of course. It may feel mean but if it does your taking it the wrong way. They are being strict but they know you can do better, so they always say to make a correction or them yelling at you as a complement of a good thing. 

We don’t just dance around the whole time in class though. We have separate classes for choreography and technique. In choreography, we do whatever dances we are learning for whatever occasion. This time of year we work on our dances and solos for the upcoming Nutcracker on December 7th and 8th. In technique, we do exactly what it sounds like, we work on technique, skills, and strengthening. 

In technique, we work hard. Just like in basketball you practice shooting and passing and the many other things you do. We also do things like that but of course ballet things. All ballet terms and in french so we have to memorize a lot of terms and what they mean. So when your teacher tells you to start in fifth and tombe pas de bourrée glissade saut de chat you better know exactly what they said and what to do. 

Not only does ballet have to look pretty and effortless but it is very far from those things when you are doing ballet. You have to have a very strong core. That involves a lot of ab workouts. Our ankles and legs need to be very strong as well. That involves not only a lot of hard words in class but outside of class. It is very important to also work out at home. Just like in any other sport you must stay in shape and you can’t do that while sitting on the couch. 

A lot of ballet dancers also do point. Now never call pointe shoes toe shoes unless you want to piss off a dancer. Pointe shoes are something a dancer has to work hard for and it is not as easy or as simple as you think and believe me I would know. First of all, you need to be at least 12 years old. This is not because your not good enough yet because you could be the best dancer in the world at 11 years but you can’t go on point. This is because the tendons and muscles in your ankles aren’t done growing and developing, so if you hurt yourself that you could do permanent damage to your ankle which is not good at all. Once you are old enough you have to work hard and strengthen your ankles. Your ankles also have to get quite flexible. You want these things for many reasons but that would be another article because there is so much to talk to and to go in-depth too. Once you’re on-point you not just “going on your tippy-toes.” You are on your toes with requires a loss of balance and strength. Some think pff, I could do that it’s not that hard but believe me it is and there is a lot more that goes into doing point than you think. It gets easier but only if you work hard

Overall I hope this changes your view on what you thought ballet was before. People who do ballet have to make it look beautiful and effortless all while having pain in their toes from standing on them keeping good technique while remembering a dance. Every sport has its challenges and I don’t know everything about other sports but I think it is good to know. Because you can then have a new respect for that sport or art and maybe learn to enjoy it.