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Ballet Dancing – The Ideal Physique
Are you a ballet dancer, thinking about taking ballet dancing to the next level?
First, let me say that I truly believe that whatever you put your mind to, and become completely focussed on that goal, you can achieve...
This article is just highlighting some of the centuries-old beliefs as to what constitutes an ideal physique for a ballet dancer...
It is well recognized that a ballet dancer MUST possess a physique that can be trained to the finest degree of coordination, combined with complete flexibility, endurance, and great strength from head to toes. In spite of this all important fact, some students train till well on into their teens before being defeated by some physical characteristic which undoubtedly existed at ten years old, but overlooked or ignored by their trainers at that time...
So what is the ideal physique, you ask?
Well, most experts agree that your body’s proportions are critical to having an ideal physique. Apart from aesthetic considerations, a well proportioned body will weather the stresses and strains of the exciting work required of it with greater ease than one in which there is some disparity in the relative length for instance, of limbs to torso, of width to length of the body, or of the relative size of shoulders to hips and so on...
Unlike the musician, the ballet dancer cannot tune their instrument by lengthening or shortening their strings, increasing or decreasing the tension until the exact pitch is achieved. In the world of ballet dancing, your body is your instrument, infinitely complicated and it becomes your servant only after many years of desperately hard training...
At best it becomes an instrument of great beauty, but it will fall short of this if it is endowed with that extra inch here or too short a length there to fall into that perfection of line and form that the art demands. In the well-informed, well-proportioned physique there is less likelihood of muscles thickening in unwanted places, and less proneness to the minor and sometimes major mishaps caused by the effort to overcome obstacles which are inherent in the build of the body...
The neck line is important, rather more on aesthetic grounds than from anatomical point of view. To conform to the ideal physique the neck should not be too square, and above all not too short; the head should not be disproportionately large nor too small...
The ideal ballet physique embodies a perfect balance between the upper and lower halves of the body. A good guide for the best proportions may be taken from ancient Greece where the length from the crown of the head to the pubic arch or fork is equal to that from the fork to the ground. Following the same pattern, the length from the fork to the lower border of the knee cap should be equal to that from the lower border of the knee cap to the ground...
According to the classical tradition, the shoulders of the man are broader than the hips, in the woman they are somewhat narrower. Here we diverge somewhat, for it has been found by experience that the ideal ballet figure is the better for some slight extra width across the shoulders, whether male or female...
Limbs are next on the list. Pretty arms and hands are naturally an asset; extra arm length or lack of it is not a really a problem, but for the lower limbs the standard of beauty is set high. The ideal leg will of course be straight and shapely, showing little or not muscular development when standing, with smooth line from the back view, and knees which do not protrude too much from the front...
There will be a straight line down the center of the thigh, through the center of the knee, down the front of the leg to about the middle of the foot. The foot will be flexible, showing at least a potential arch. With toes of medium length only and preferably with the first two or three approximating the same length...
Finally the perfect candidate will have an upright carriage and well-poised head.
Hopefully this gives you a little insight into some age-old views on the physique of ballet dancers and the art of ballet dancing.
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