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Release in the Ballet Class

Release in the Ballet class

by Dina Shmueli


Ballet technique is a tool to develop capability and knowledge for anyone who wants to dance. Nowadays it is not connected directly to classical dancing on stage, and dose not demand a certain style or a specific esthetic line. Being interested, as a pro Ballet teacher, in what is going on in the world of Ballet teaching, I visit every once in a while, Ballet classes in some private studios, institutes and children dance schools. 



Most people who take Ballet class once a week or more are not professional Ballet dancers who perform classical repertoire. Those people, who love to dance, and like to improve their dance ability, believe that Ballet class would do it. Some of them take Ballet class as a weekly treat or kind of a physical workout.


Young children that take Ballet classes regularly, are doing it for varies reasons. Some want to be dancers as they see on T.V. Most of them will not be Ballet dancers, because they are not built for it. But they can benefit a great deal from it, if they are taught properly, according to their physical and mental capacity.



Unfortunately the technique that is being taught in most places I visited, regard to the technique that was demanded at the beginning of the 20th century. Children and their parents, and so are adults, love to feel that romantic esthetic in their practice. It is wonderful to feel long, tall and slim, dancing to classical music as if you were a princess or a prince.


It is all very well, but what about breathing? Most Ballet teachers would tell you to hold your stomach in, to pull up your chest and body, to try and hold in everything in order to keep your balance, to force your turnout. Many Ballet teachers would demand everyone to straighten their knees until it is locked.


Many corrections and demands of Ballet teachers involve their own ambition as dancers, and a big ego. Many times they don’t know enough anatomic facts, and teach what they were taught without rethinking about it. Those who dance in their classes usually don’t think there is another way. They believe their Ballet teacher, because she or he usually looks so beautiful and confident in what they do.


If we agree that Ballet is about dancing, dancing is about moving, movement is about kinesthetic feeling and ability, then why stick to some old ideas that don’t suit our time and approach to life?


There is a lot to be said about the differences between the beginning of the 20th century and now, in terms of Ballet practice. The fact that democratic regime enable all people to take Ballet classes, should make us, Ballet teachers, find unconventional ways to approach all students and pupils.


The alternative

There are several techniques and methods for healing injuries that we can rely on as tools to prevent injuries. There is Alexander technique and Feldekreiz method that teaches us a lot about the function of the body and mind together, in order to create efficiency of the movement.


The release technique is based on the same ideas that I suggest for Ballet practice. So far the release technique discusses only modern and contemporary dance. What about classical Ballet? How is it different? Where dose it say that Ballet should be stiff and frozen and painful?


Everyone agree that Ballet is a difficult technique to conquer. If so, why not use some good old methods to help us? If we will correct our pupils to relax the back of their necks, and think of direction of the varies parts of the body, as in Alexander technique, all movements will be better placed and mobile easily.


If we tell our pupils to talk to their bones instead of their muscles, and to free their joints, as Feldenkreiz suggested, their muscles will do the job anyway, and their energy will be saved to dance better and longer.


If we offer our pupils to use imagery in order to free the movement from being stuck in physical problems. To imagine the tips of their body leading them into space and through space, to use images that take one away from the limit of their skin, then dancing will become more expressive and influential. The actual of dance will become Art for all dancing people.    


People who dance, professionals and nonprofessionals, children and adults, will benefit and enjoy using their body efficiently and artistically. It will allow them to improve their dancing skills in a pleasant way. It will contribute to their self-esteem and make them understand their body-mind.


The most gifted ones, who will choose to be professionals, will be able to prevent injuries, and will have a better approach to Ballet dancing as a tool for the Art of Ballet and dance. Everyone else will enjoy the Ballet class as physical-artistic treat, instead of a punishment they have to go through in order to be fit.  









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