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Ballet and Sport


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Over on the "Doing Dance" forum tomuchtallent has given us a link to the Arsenal/ENB advertisement: http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/654-arsenal-and-the-enb/page__pid__8082#entry8082

 

Northern Ballet recently featured with Ryan Hall on Superleague TV:

 

Over the years, I've seen bits in the press about football teams attending ballet classes to improve their flexibility and mobility.

 

Do people think initiatives like this may draw more people into watching ballet? I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts.

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I am not sure it would draw many more into watching ballet. It may do into taking part in ballet, but the emphasis is on the athletic rather than the artistic.

 

For example, Liam Tancock is a world record holding swimmer who uses ballet every week and is very up front about doing so. But the fact that Liam does ballet to improve his athleticism I would think is not that big a pull into watching a ballet itself.

 

Swimmers, footballer and others looking to improve at what is quite an elite level may take part, but I think to get more watching ballet takes educational initiatives such as those seen in many companies - working with primary and secondary schools to get children enjoying watching, as well as potentially participating in ballet.

 

I wonder if there is a place for such community initiatives to include parents of the children as well? After all, for the younger watchers, it is the parents who will be paying.

 

'My first sleeping beauty' is a super example of how to get children watching. But again, I think the barrier will be the parents. The challenge is to get them to the ticket buying stage. I wonder if versions of my first Sleeping Beauty will be able to be performed in schools?

 

For example, just listen to the children's reaction as they watch the Nutcracker PDD being performed in a south London School.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1_hq8PXC1Y

 

maybe working with the parents of these children will help introduce new people to ballet.

 

Finally, the aim of the advert is to sell cars. Maybe Citroen would like to sponsor the ENB as well? so along with the tickets to the Arsenal game, the winner of the competition gets tickets to the ENB?

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I've just discovered that the ENB are running a Sporting Dance set of events in colloboration with London Broncos rugby club.

http://www.ballet.org.uk/editorial.php?ref=big-dance-sporting

 

ENB seem to be doing a lot of community work. Apart from its First Sleeping Beauty, they were also involved in a project at Tate Modern and there's their programme Dance for Parkinson's that seems to have a quite transforming effect on people with Parkinson's disease. All of these might get more people paying to see ballet in the theatre.

 

I think there's a danger in emphasising the sporting nature of ballet. While it's good to show people that a ballet dancer has to be a supreme athlete, do people want to see the effort that goes into dancing on stage? Ballet is an art form that uses the body as its instrument; the blood and sweat are the red badge of courage for a rugby player, not a ballet dancer. The ballet dancer has to keep that badge well hidden. There's already a danger that ballet is becoming too sport-like, tending towards gymnastics, and soon, if it hasn't happened already, this is what is going to be expected of all ballet. Is the audience meant to applaud just those bits of the ballet where the dancer gets her leg up the highest, or does the greatest number of fouettes or performs the highest leaps?

 

There are a number of sports which like to add ballet to their training regimes, as Stirrups36 mentioned: gymnastics, figure skating, high-board diving and I read recently that freestlyle skiers are encouraged to take ballet too. All these are sports with an artistic element though, and the ballet is to help with both the body conditioning and the artistry of their own sports. I'm not sure that the fact that ballet is used in a training regime will encourage people to buy tickets to watch ballet itself. I have experience of the Junior Talent ID programme for diving, which goes scouting for likely talent in primary schools and elsewhere. Interestingly, the scouts did not care whether children could even swim; the children that often got selected for this scheme were ballet dancers already.

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Ballet is recommended for many sports such as football (American style). Some of the reasons are the ballet aids in being able to change directions quickly such as when running down a field. It gives the athlete an inner control. I have been in class with these athletes and had the opportunity to teach such classes. If it doesn't induce anyone to buy a ticket to a performance it does induce respect for the men who dance.

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I think the benefits of ballet to sport were apparent with my son, who even though he never went to any training sessions, was asked to play football and run for his primary school team - his speed, agility and core strength obviously helped. It also helped with some of the respect issues with his friends.

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I know I am an old curmudgeon but I do not want the audience that surrounds me to be trained to scream and whoop at every unusal or repeated step or spectacular lift as though a goal has been scored in a hard fought premier league soccer match - what has happened to the british ballet audience that enhanced the enjoyment and suspense of a magical performance by allowing the resonance of the last note to die before cheering and applauding? as was remarked upon when the Bolshoi first visited in 1956 - for me that doubles the magic of what I have experienced and I dread this new (? American) trend becoming de rigueur - sorry!

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I dislike it, too.

 

I think that part of an introduction to theater arts is learning how to be a good audience - and that includes behavior.

 

(The Appalachians and the Urals are not interchangeable. One uses a banjo and the other a balalaika. . :) )

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