Ballet is known across the world as being one of the most graceful and delicate styles of dancing in the world, but there’s so much more to this art form that you’d think. With a history spanning back almost 500 years, there are a number of facts that very few people know about ballet. Whether you’re interested in taking ballet lessons or you just want to amaze your friends with some new facts, you’ll find something you didn’t know about ballet before!
- Ballet dancers have one of the hardest training regimes in the world
Many aspiring ballet dancers will take more than 20 hours’ of ballet classes a week for up to 10 years in order to become a professional dancer. As well as their ballet classes, they’ll learn how to partner, take contemporary and character dance classes and variations- performing short extracts of well-known ballets. Ballet offers a mixture of aerobic and anaerobic exercise which works out every part of your body and will build up muscles which you wouldn’t really use otherwise.
- Pointe shoes are a rite of passage
Going ‘en pointe’ is one of the biggest milestones a ballet dancer can achieve. Pointe shoes and the graceful silhouette they create as a ballet dancer rises on their toes is the shape that inspires many young children to start ballet. However, going en pointe can cause a lot of harm if not done correctly or attempted by a young child. Your bones are simply too malleable before the age of around 11 to go en pointe, and many ballet instructors will decide to wait even longer.
To go en point, your technique must be very strong, which typically takes at least two years of training multiple times a week before it can even be considered.
- Some pointe shoes only last an hour
Whilst there are a number of elaborate breaking-in methods for pointe shoes, they last a very short time for professional dancers. Just one season can see a profession go through more than 120 pointe shoes, which is extremely expensive for professional dance companies, and some principal dancers may need several pairs for just one performance, especially if they’re in the leading roles of ballets like Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake.
- Pianists accompany every daily ballet class
Often overlooked, a live pianist accompanies every lesson, every day in a ballet company, playing an essential role in performances and rehearsals, as well as everyday classes. Pianists replaced violinists at the end of the 19th century and have played a vital role i developing dancers’ musicality ever since.
They need to have the skill to play numerous pieces of music in a variety of tempos, in order to accompany every part of the class and they need to be completely fluent in ballet terminology to ensure they start the correct part of the music in accordance with the wishes of the teacher.
- Tutus are made by hand
When you think of a ballerina, it’s impossible not to picture a tutu, and it’s essential for a performance. A single high quality tutu is handmade and is a major expense for professional companies. Luckily (and unlike pointe shoes!), a high quality tutu will last up to 30 years, with several dancers wearing them throughout its lifetime.
Many ballet dancers will write their names inside the tutu, so future wearers will know who used it before them. Ten layers of tulle and a metal hoop support the top layer, which in a classical tutu protrudes 13-15 inches out from the hip and it takes about 120 hours to hand-make a single classical tutu.
If your child dreams of nothing more than being a ballerina, why not give the team at Marina Saldanha Dance Academy a call and find out more about our ballet lessons? Simply dial 0791 919 0001 today.