The other day, a new student asked me Why learn ballet?. It got me reflecting on my own dance journey – from a 7 year old putting on my first leotard to now running my own ballet school. What got me here, why did it matter this much?
Growing up, I was involved in multiple dance genres – from Lyrical Jazz to Hip Hop. Going into the studio was always the highlight of my day because it meant learning a new routine or spending hours rehearsing for an upcoming performance or dance competition. I never realized it then, but looking back now, without the foundation and rigour that ballet afforded me. I probably would not have enjoyed exploring and learning as much as I did.
Ballet challenges us cognitively and physically. It is vital to our development, in dance and in life. Here are 7 reasons why I think you should learn ballet.
1. Body Awareness
When dancing ballet, every position you take is very specific. From how your head tilts to where your feet points. To ensure that your head, hips, shoulders, knees, hands and feet is in the right position requires an immense amount of body awareness.
2. Physiological – Building muscles
I have heard people laugh when I talk about how ballet helps build muscles. While ballerinas do not have the muscle mass of bodybuilders or powerlifters. We do build muscles, even in places other sports will hardly reach. That is also why many professional athletes use ballet as supplementary training. In order to accurately articulate a position with infinite grace, every muscle in our body must fulfil their purpose.
3. Improves memory and brain sharpness
A good ballerina must be able to pick up choreography quickly and incorporate techniques learned at the barre or in the centre. This is just one example amongst many of how ballet requires her dancers to think of many things at once. This results in the brain being exercised regularly and over time, sharper minds.
A lot of ballet pieces require an entire corps de ballet to fully realize its beauty. Dancers must learn to work with others, to be always having an eye on what everyone else is doing and to remain in-sync with the rest of the team.
Ballet teaches her students to appreciate art. To read the subtleties and symbolism in other forms of art. As an art itself, it explores forms and representations to express and re-enact life, nature and stories.
6. Discipline, Perseverance & Commitment
Ballet as a sport requires an immense amount of discipline, perseverance and commitment. Every technique taught at the barre and every routine learned on the floor; every prior preparation needed before every class from a neat hair bun to properly tied shoes, all contribute to the discipline of a dancer.
To properly execute a pirouette or an arabasque takes hard work and training. The hours spent trying to obtain the result you want teaches a dancer to keep on trying despite all the missteps and disappointments. That builds character, and requires perseverance and commitment.
(For today’s overworked and forever stressed individuals)
At the end of the day, ballet affords you an escape. It requires you to focus entirely and helps take your mind away from what you are worrying about. For that 60 minutes you spend in the studio, dancing your heart out and pushing your physical and cognitive boundaries, you are free from your worries. I find that helps me reframe and refocus, allowing me to see clearer looking at any problems I’m facing.
If you’re considering picking up ballet, click here to find the different ballet classes for beginners. We’ve got the right program for you, regardless of age or experience.
See you at the barre!