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Ballet and gym/acro


Hambleton
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Looking at the current thread about ballet training combined with modern/tap training, I have been wondering for a long time about whether my DD and DS would benefit from gym/acro skills, even though they are going down a classical ballet route? Do vocational schools offer these lessons to girls and boys I wonder?My children have never been taught to do a 'Fame' or star jump for example, yet such moves are often seen from male dancers in dance shows of all genres. ENB I believe had male dancers 'tumbling' in their classical production of Romeo and Juliet. Generally being 'acrobatic', especially for a male, seems to add something to the skill-set. I am aware that traditionally gym and ballet do not go hand in hand, but when it comes to looking for a job, would it be a good thing if they had acro skills? It is preying on my mind, so any answers gratefully received!

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I think that if this kind of skill is sought it should be taught more as a "acro for ballet dancers" rather than as acro. The muscles are used very differently - turnout, position of the back - hands, etc.

 

Those acro movements we are seeing more and more of on the classical stage are still done within the ballet structure. It has a very different look and outcome.

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I have often sung the praises of gymnastics and acrobatic training and I think it has been misunderstood in the past. It gives much more core strength than ballet or modern (especially if the modern is syllabus based - there are abdominal exercises but the time spent on them does not create sufficient demand to increase strength), and gym/acro also trains explosive power and flexibility better that dance classes alone.

 

Without wanting to go down the route of 'tricks versus artistry' that we so often venture down, I support the additional training and the increased skill set offered, not to mention the increase in fitness (strength, power and flexibility) that the rigours of dance training and performance demands.

 

As for anyone concerned about muscle shape etc - muscle bulk won't build up too much if the training is mostly movement-based (ie not holding static positions for ages, not lifting weights). I know of a 14 year old girl who has done acrobatic training and can jump, flip and tumble wonderfully, and who has just been accepted into the Australian Ballet School (full time).

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Putting aside any possible changes in muscle shaping etc., - the body training for a career in the ballet learns to produce a certain look which becomes automatic.

 

A ballerina dancing Swan Lake is not thinking "I have to point my toe" or "I must step squarely on the platform of my shoe" or "I must keep turned out" or "my back must be engaged." After all those years of training, that's automatic. That leaves her free to think about the moment - the role she is dancing, the image and message she wants to relay, engaging with her partner, engaging with the corps de ballet, the music, the stage dynamics.

 

Training in other disciplines can be very worthwhile - I do not argue against it - but it must be done to enhance the ballet - which must remain dominant - if that is the ultimate direction the dancer wishes to go.

 

One can do the same step in ballet, in modern, in acro - like a fouetté turn - and I have seen them done by gymnasts, modern dancers as well as ballet dancers. Same step - but the look is different, the aim is different - the message is different.

 

If you see a gymnast doing this turn during a floor exercise it is quite different in its message as compared to Odile doing them in Swan Lake.

 

Thus, I believe that when these other disciplines are undertaken they should be done with the over riding proscription that they are done as a ballet dancer would do them.

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Training in other disciplines can be very worthwhile - I do not argue against it - but it must be done to enhance the ballet - which must remain dominant - if that is the ultimate direction the dancer wishes to go.

 

 

I think that the reason why Hambleton was enquiring about gymnastic/acro training was entirely to do with enhancing their DD & DS's ballet training....

 

 

Thus, I believe that when these other disciplines are undertaken they should be done with the over riding proscription that they are done as a ballet dancer would do them.

 

I disagree here - firstly, a professional ballet dancer is able to move in many different ways and express many different characters and most will be incredibly versatile for example a current professional will be required execute a movement in different ways depending on the requests/direction of the choreographer or repetiteur. Therefore I'm not convinced that there is any 'one way' that a ballet dancer would do any movement.

 

Secondly, it is much better for the health of both body and mind for anyone (but in this case for ballet dancers) not to focus on one thing 100% of the time. Ballet dancers should, for example, be discouraged from walking with turned out legs and feet, and from standing in turnout when not in the studio or on stage. It won't do ballet students or dancers any harm to think about something a bit different, and use a few different muscles, for a small portion of their time.

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No one would advocate a total immersion 100% of the time at anything - except, I do recommend that one should keep breathing - but even then - not when underwater. :)

 

I don't believe I ever said "that there is any 'one way' that a ballet dancer would do any movement."

 

However, the aim - the intent - the look - the delivery - the technique - the message - when delivered by a ballet dancer is different than when delivered by a modern dancer. A modern dancer can use the ballet structure and vocabulary and the ballet dancer can use the structure and vocabulary of a modern dancer. But they are still two different disciplines - two different art forms - and two different body types.

 

If they were all homogenous then there would be no need for modern classes and ballet classes.

 

When I was taking a daily ballet class (or more), the class had many modern dancers and vice versa - but there was no doubt when watching any particular dancer move which genre was their primary focus. And, I believe it remains so.

 

One has only to attend a modern dance performance and/or a ballet performance - to see a difference in impetus, delivery, intent, structure - and yes, body type.

 

It is true that ballet dancers today are incredibly versatile - but, I think they always have been. If one goes back through the programs and choreography of the original Ballet Russe under Diagelev - with so many avant guarde artists involved - it was a celebration of versatility and thinking -- and dancing - outside the box.

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Thanks Anjuli and DrDance for your considered and knowledgeable replies. I'm still not quite sure what I think about gym and ballet. Do any members have a child at vocational ballet school where gym/acro is on the syllabus I wonder?

Hambleton

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My son used to do gymnastics (ish) at WL but he was hopeless at it - he's just not that kind of mover! But I wish they'd helped him more with it rather than just make him feel useless.

I I agree Julie,our dss were never that kind of movers! Learning how to cartwheel was in itself a major achievement for ds!
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I done lots of gymnastics when I young and taught a little so I have helped my dd to do basic gymnastics.I was worried as she has a very flexible back so I didn't want her to take regular classes.she has worked very hard on strengthening her back and it causes no problems with her ballet posture.In her ballet class there are a few rhythmic gymnasts and you can spot them straight away and they are very young.It's always great to be able to tumble and you don't need a crazy amount of hours a week training to achieve this.If your taking the musical theatre or contemporary route then it's worth while but older students studying ballet I dont think you would need any gymnastic at all.

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As far as I am aware, Hammond do not offer gymnastics etc but they do a lot of felxability and pilates training which would make any dancer (classical ballet or otherwise) more able to to do these sort of moves that may be required from any choreographer. I would not consider my dd an acrobat but sheis certainly very flexible.

 

T

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