I've explained this in a few posts before, so I will give the shorter version of the story today. I thought I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer until my freshman year of college. I spent about 20 hours a week in the studio in high school. I also trained some in jazz and modern, but it wasn't very much in comparison to how much time I spent on the classical ballet technique. I loved ballet more than anything, but I'm also a very realistic person. I knew there were some things I couldn't change no matter how much work I put into it, like that I could never get my knees fully straight, or my legs turned out enough. Essentially, I was aware that I just wasn't talented enough to have that much of a dance career.
I thought I would spend my college years training (a lot of dancers go into the professional world right out of high school), double major in business, probably dance in a small company for a few years, and then use my second degree for a corporate job. Long story short, I realized that wasn't the best plan a few months into my freshman year. And a few months later, I got a stress fracture in my spine. So, I started to move away from the passion I had enjoyed for so much of my life. I dropped to a dance minor, so I was still in ballet classes for the next three semesters of college. I haven't danced much since then, but I worked on the administrative side of the studio I danced in growing up, for seven months between college and starting my full time job. Although it didn't go according to plan, I wouldn't trade my experience with ballet for anything. The list of things it is has taught me that has helped me outside of the studio is endless!
So, here a few little facts you may not know about ballet, and I'm also going to correct a few things you may think you know about ballet.
1. Ballet started in Italy, not in France
The first ballet school was established in France by King Louis XIV, which is why the language of ballet is French. But, the earliest roots are actually from Italy.
2. Not every dancer is a "ballerina"
A prima ballerina is a title for some of the best female dancers, not that many women are lucky enough to gain that title during their career. Actually, here is a list of all of them going all the way back to 1799. Everyone else is simply a "dancer" (female) or "danseur" (male).
3. They're not "slippers" or "toe shoes"
The shoes that allow dancers to stand on the tips of their toes are called pointe shoes. Each pair of shoes usually cost somewhere between $60-$100. Some professional dancers wear through several pairs of these shoes per day, so a lot of companies have a shoe allowance included in the salaries for their dancers.
4. Ballet has only been in America since the 1930's
The first ballet school, The School of American Ballet (the school of the New York City Ballet) was established by George Balanchine, a Russian dancer, teacher, and choreographer in 1934.
5. Ballet dancers are artists and athletes
According to this study, a group of dancers were more resistant to fatigue than a group of athletes. And a group of dancers scored higher on fitness tests than a group of swimmers (including some Olympians), in this study.
Happy World Ballet Day!
Thanks for reading!