Learning the art of ballet is a wonderful opportunity that can teach so many skills which will be used over the course of a person’s entire life. Ballet classes teach discipline, determination and strength, while also cultivating an artistic appreciation and inspiring creative movement. Ballet is certainly a physically demanding undertaking, but the methods have developed over many years to ensure that beginners learn foundational skills before advancing to more advanced techniques.
1. A long tradition
Ballet, as we know it today, began during the Renaissance around the year 1500 in Italy. In fact, the terms “ballet” and “ball” as in masked ball, come from the Italian ballare, to dance. When Catherine de Medici of Italy married the French King Henry II, she introduced early dance styles into court life in France.
Although initially ballets were performed primarily by men, women soon showed that they were also able to complete the challenging and physically demanding choreography. The inspiration behind many early ballets came from fairy tales and folk stories, in addition to significant historical events and even bible stories. Moving, passionate, and sometimes tragic, it is no surprise that even today, a trip to the ballet can often be a very emotional experience.
2. Basic ballet choreography
Although contemporary choreographers now draw inspiration from all over, the basic techniques of classical ballet have remained more or less the same over time. In reference to ballet’s home country, many of the terms still used for the basic ballet position are French.
The first thing that most aspiring ballerinas learn is proper foot placement, the positions are aptly numbered first through fifth and refer to where the feet begin and land after the completion of a step. Once these positions have been mastered, the dancer can go on to pilés, pirouettes, changements, and sautés.
3. The right shoes
Like any activity, success is ballet is greatly facilitated if the dancer has the proper outfit and footwear. But although the grand tutus and extravagantly laced shoes associated with professional ballet performances can seem intimidation, in fact in order to begin, young ballerinas only need a basic leotard and simple dancing slippers.
This is the footwear that all dancers begin with, with some graduating to pointe shoes after several years of proper training. Pointe shoes allow dancers to appear even lighter and more delectate, as they perform raised high up on their tiptoes.
4. Getting started
The fact is that ballet is a wonderful activity at any age for strengthening the body, increasing flexibility, emotional expression and even meeting new friends. Of course, if you’re starting later in life, it will be a very different experience than starting young, but it can certainly be fun and enjoyable either way.
It is never too late (or too early) to begin and the first step is making sure that you are physically able to take on a new activity. When starting a new regime, it is always a good idea to check in with a doctor to make sure you are not undertaking any unnecessary health risks. At this point, you can begin determining what your goals are for your new practice.
For some, these might include getting a bit of additional physical activity into the week while spending time with friends, whereas others might aspire to one day take to the stage as a professional ballerina. Regardless, ballet is one of the only sports that allows you to benefit from terrific exercise while also practicing an art form. There is always more to learn, and skills can be continually refined and enhanced, meaning ballet truly can be an adventure that continues unfolding over the course of an entire lifespan.