Ballet Word of the Day
Gargouillade: Water sprout; an advanced jump from one foot to the other, and can be done en dehors or en dedan.
Example: Right foot front 5th position, brush the front leg quickly to the side and jump up, off the other leg; while in the air, first execute a ronds de jambes en l’air en dehors with the right leg as the right leg executes a ronds de jambes en l’air and en dedans with the left leg. Then close the left leg in 5th position front.
The “Ballet” Body
For a long time the ballet body type that was favored was short, low arched, and much more plump than the ballerinas you see today. One such dancer that went against the traditional body type at the time was Anna Pavlova who was very thin, high arched, and long limbed. Being a tall dancer was not favored because companies didn’t want any corps girl being taller than the principal. Many saw her thin body as “sickly” looking and didn’t believe she could succeed as a dancer. Because of her high arches she also had much difficulty en pointe. At that time pointe shoes didn’t traditionally have the hard wooden shank for support and any dancer using such was considered “cheating”. And dancers were not usually extremely flexible because it was considered obscene to lift your leg above 90 degrees. But because of Anna Pavlovas deep love for ballet, because of her amazing performances and artistry, she shook up the ballet world. Over time Pavlova’s body would become the traditional body type for today’s ballerinas.
It’s interesting to hear people discuss the ballet body ballerinas MUST possess in order to succeed when they seem unaware of the truth. Today’s world of ballet demands more and more explosive energy to captivate an audience attention. And although we spend countless hours trying to use smaller deep and intrinsic muscles rather than larger superficial ones, the larger ones will inevitably play a role. Female dancers WILL get more muscular. I believe that will become the new “ballet” body. One such dancer that is more muscular than the “traditional” ballet dancer is Misty Copeland.
I find her body to be beautiful and functional. I think functional is the key word. Consider for a moment if body mechanics (rather than body type), technique, and artistry are all companies would care about. Perhaps there would be less injuries and less mental disease within the ballet community.
Male Dancers Starting Late
I see a lot of posts about guys worrying how 16 is too late to starting training to be a male ballet dancer and this is simply not the case. That is an old, archaic myth. If you’re going the modern or contemporary route, you DEFINITELY have time. The truth is that it does take very serious commitment and daily classes to become a professional male dancer, but it is very possible. It is said that it takes 10 years of ballet classes (and the help of decent teachers) to create a ballet dancer. If you work very hard, take two classes a day, have good teachers, and have a good body you may be able to cut down the time to as little as 6 years. On average it will take longer. That means you might be 24 when you join your first professional ballet company. And if you think about it that’s about the time some people graduate from college and get a job. If you’re not okay with that then quit. You cannot become pro in two years. Not even people born with the perfect ballet bodies can gain the combination of strength, speed, coordination, and artistry in two years. Companies, especially in the United States, will hire older dancers. 24 is by no means too old for males. So if you have the passion and believe in your talent, then go for it. But realize it may take 6-10 years to reach your goal. There are no shortcuts in ballet.
Below are examples of dancers that started late
I started when I was almost 19 years old for ballet. I did jazz and other forms of dance at the age of 16. I’m 21. I’ll let you know when i join my first company
Problems of a Dancer
A whole toenail just fell off my pinky toe. I haven’t even taken class en pointe in a while.
The grossest part about my nail falling off? The fact that it simply just fell off. There was no blood or anything. It naturally just fell off my pinky toe as if I had lupus.