Ballet: Artistry or 10 pirouettes?

6:48:00 PM

You see it everywhere: Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and almost every form of social media there is. This time, it's not people posting pictures of adorable kittens; it's people posting pictures of their meat-hook feet, insane hyperextension, and banana-shaped over-splits. We all gawk, obsess, and occasionally sob at the craziness of these people's abilities, but what I have come to realize is that we all are forgetting a crucial quality to ballet that makes it, well, ballet.

When I first realized this, I was watching Paris Opera Ballet dancers on Youtube (see the video here). It was a mere 10 seconds of watching these dancers and I realized that for the most part, they did NOT have crazy-banana feet, hyperextension, and whatnot, and yet it was still beautiful in every sense. Of course, they still had superb technique, bodies, and whatnot, but it wasn't like the almost disgustingly arched feet that's rampant on social media today. Nonetheless, I was extremely moved by them within only a few moments of watching them.

My point(e)? (Okay, that's an overused pun... I'm sorry.)They were absolutely gorgeous not because of their insanely shaped feet, hyperextension, and flexibility, but because of their ARTISTRY. Every miniscule detail was simply dazzling beyond words. Of course, they had wonderful technique, but that was not the key factor that made them so terrific. They danced wonderfully, which I would personally prefer over them doing 10000 pirouettes.

Now, in no way I am saying that technique does not matter. However, let me ask you this: In ballet, do you really need 50000000000000 pirouettes? Do you really need 200 degree over-splits?

If you're someone who can do 10 pirouettes or have crazy, gorgeous feet, THAT IS WONDERFUL FOR YOU! All I am saying is to the people who cannot do these things: don't be discouraged! Work hard, strive for the physical requirements, but don't lose sight of the actual artistry of dancing itself. Ballet is not about the most turns, the best extensions, all those crazy gymnast-like tricks, but about telling a story.

For everything, there is a point where something becomes too much. As a personal opinion, I honestly do NOT think that ballerinas must have 500000000000000000 pirouettes or 200 degree over-splits. We need to execute pirouettes well, be flexible, have a reasonable amount of hyperextension and feet flexibility, and in general, have close to flawless technique, but we cannot forget about artistry, which is perhaps one of the only qualities that separates ballet from something like gymnastics.

Even the spectacular Anna Pavlova did not have insanely arched feet and yet she is still considered legendary. One may blame this on the perhaps lower technique standards of the 19th/20th centuries, but audiences still loved her dancing.
(Image via DanceDirect)

What do you think? Are dancers too focused on quantity nowadays? Leave your comments below; I'd be more than happy to see them :)

(This is all my own opinion; please don't feel offended by anything I say, and if you do, please tell me politely.)


  1. I agree! Ballet is beautiful because of the artistry and passion behind the technical ability. It is the very reason I love ballet!


You Might Also Like

Google+ Badge