A Summer of Sport VI: Ballet

Another lovely guest post from Peta at http://minrva.blogspot.co.uk/:

I have never studied, practiced or performed ballet, but I do so enjoy watching it!

In fact, I am writing this while on my way home from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where I relished the exquisite elegance of the famous Bolshoi, performing Jewels. Tonight, however, was not my first Russian-ballet experience; that was some years ago in Russia at one of those ‘tourist shows’ – The Nutcracker, in April… As my mum would say, they were “not much chop” (utterly rubbish).

After being completely enthralled in a truly breath-taking performance (Diamonds, in part, was a succession of solo performances showing off the most amazing, and I imagine, incredibly difficult sequences), one can be left feeling awe inspired, and then perhaps a little dismayed (I am more a terre than chassé). But fear not, ever the silver lining sort of Mama, I am thinking about what it takes to be a Bolshoi ballerina, what lessons can I learn from this, and what lessons can ballet teach my Miss and Master? Here are just a couple of things I have learnt…

Discipline. Ballet, to me, is as much about strict discipline as it is about splendorous dancing. But before exercises at the barre and breaking out the tutu, one must learn the (many) ballet terms and positions. Being instilled with the discipline to master the theory before moving on to the practice is an admirable character trait that would do anyone well in life.

Fortitude. Great physical strength will only get you so far – there are many good ballet dancers. It takes more than this to rise to the ranks of principal ballet dancers. Anyone following the news will know that the Bolshoi have been, in recent times, plagued by scandal. But after reading a number of articles, both as scandals broke and more recently, I get a feeling of the underlying, immense confidence and inner strength of these Bolshoi dancers. It is more than the stereotypical patriotism for mother Russia – these dancers exhibit fortitude in their every move.

Determination. I think of this as having the determination to reach the end goal, (or perhaps a stubbornness to accept anything less). Even the highest ranked dancers are required at morning practice with the ballet troupe. Determination to keep attending, keep dancing, keep practicing is a must. Dance, fall down, stand up. Dance, err, correct. Dance, fall down, stand up. Dance, err, correct. Need I say more?

Coordination. Whether or not you appreciate (or even like) ballet, I challenge anyone to view a professional performance and fail to be in awe of the poise with which ballerinas carry themselves about the stage, exhibiting nonchalant awareness of their fellow performers and seemingly conducting the orchestra with every move. Imagine the resulting harmony if every person in every household and business regularly performed with such effortless coordination?

Ballet schools?

Unlike previous summer of sport blogs, I haven’t a clue about what might make a good ballet school and so there are no links today, (although please feel free to pass on any personal recommendations via comments.)

If you have never been to the ballet before, I urge you to go and watch a performance of The Nutcracker this Christmas. With all the bright colours and fun music children will love it (age guide is 5 years or older).

I hope ballet teaches my Miss and Master that some achievements are not ‘quick wins’ that are so amply available these days, but with discipline, fortitude, determination and coordination, anything is possible.

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