Commentary

Why?

11:38:00 AM

The word "ballet" brings me such a mass of complicated emotions and thoughts that at first, I am overwhelmed at describing it... For how does one describe such an art?

On a superficial level, ballet is long hours of grueling rehearsals. Excruciating pain. Overwhelming frustration. Death while living. Blisters, corns, and bunions galore. What fun...

While that may all be true, I honestly think that nowadays, people focus on the effort and pain in ballet too much. Ballet is often seen as a wimpy hobby for toddlers, which frustrates me beyond comprehension... but all of a sudden people are combating this with a laborious image of ballet  ballet becomes a painful work, not a passion or art. Complaining, ranting, etc. about the difficulty of ballet is of course, understandable (we're all guilty, after all) but in my humblest opinion, it is NOT okay to forget about the beauty of ballet. Not just the physical beauty of movement, but the emotional and spiritual part of it as well. Is it really necessary to practically fill your life with constant reminders of how difficult ballet is?

NEWS FLASH: Ballet was not made just to torture the dancer, although the requirements do seem to serve that purpose (seriously, who can actually do a proper gargoillade?). It is a delightful art form for both the audience and the dancer, and it needs to remain that way.

So, you ask, what exactly is delightful about all this physical, emotional, mental pain? Why do ballerinas even exist? (Oh goodness, this is going to get philosophical.)

I always hear the most cliché explanations to answer, "Why do you dance?" "I dance to express myself," or "Dance is my way of speaking," etc. etc. There is truth to those responses, though. And hence I launch into my attempt at explaining why ballet is beautiful, even though words can never even begin to capture that beauty:

Let's start with movement itself. Freedom at its finest. Feeling yourself move is the best reminder of your existence - that you are alive, that you occupy space, that you have the ability to influence people and objects around you. (Sometimes I sit in wonder at the fact that I have a life... that this world exists...) Because honestly, the greatest blessing in life is the opportunity to live itself. To just have a chance. Movement in ballet is refined to almost incomprehensible beauty; bringing the human body to perfect unity, combined with timing, accents, musicality, emotion... of course, grueling work, but joy beyond words for you and all those who watch you. 

Joy Indeed. (Pictured: The gorgeous Hee Seo and Roberto Bolle) © Kent G. Becker / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0


Conveying emotions through movement is truly one of the greatest accomplishments one can achieve. Crying without tears, laughing without sound, being able to just display pure joy, anger, sadness, fear, etc. in a single jump, step, motion of the hand... so dreamy. 

Then, there is the artistic beauty of ballet. Having the opportunity to become another person, to feel their pain, joy, confusion, naiveté while blending your own existence with theirs. You actually get to think about who you are, what defines you, who life has shaped you into and bring it all onto stage for others to enjoy. And let's be honest: you can't do that with words, at least not fully. Thus, "Dance is my way of speaking." 

The journey of finding yourself, pulling through undeserved hardships, and endless learning is what I have fallen hopelessly in love with. (And chocolate. Don't forget that.) But it is crucial to remember that the end is not technical perfection. In fact, there is no end. 

All that technique and mental work is simply a preparation for what ballet was made for, and it breaks my heart when I see countless people dancers and audiences forgetting that in the midst of all the tricks. The truth is, most people would rather see me kick my leg to my ear and do 1000000 pirouettes than see me do a variation from the heart.

I disagree so, so, so, so, very much. For one can touch the eyes of an audience when doing a death-defying trick, but one can touch the hearts of an audience by a simple glance from the deepest stirring inside your soul, in which everything is exposed, saying nothing with the mouth and yet everything with the body.

The ballet world we live in today is constantly focused on the astounding physical achievements (promenades en pointe, 1400000 pirouettes, etc.) and less and less on the human part of ballet. It scares the living crap out of me to think that a world where the true beauty of ballet is forgotten could exist, perhaps sometime soon.

What do you think? What is beautiful about ballet/dance to you? I'd love to hear :)


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