Ballet is the most classic of all the western dance forms. It originated in Russia and is today used for many theatre shows all over the world. It has become so popular that now people have even come up with their own Ballet versions. Be it Jazz Ballet, Contemporary Ballet and even Bollywood Ballet which Abhishek Bachchan and Sonu Sood along with Shah Rukh Khan attempted in Farah Khan’s hit film Happy New year, Ballet has its own new ways very similar to salsa and its many versions.
If you are one of those ballet freaks who has watched Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Swan Lake’ more times than you can count, and listen to Tchaikovsky on your off days from work and rehearsals, then I can surely tell you that Ballet can be a performance form of exercise.
Have you ever wondered what kept Audrey Hepburn graceful and lithe through all those stressed filled years of her life? She maintains that it’s her training at a ballet conservatory that taught her elegance and helped keep her figure picture perfect.
Ballet, as a form of dance is beauty personified, but is now a popular form of exercise and workout too. Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t all pretty pink tutus and pointe shoes. It requires the strength and agility of a professional football player. It isn’t hard then, to imagine the amount of training the body gets when you do ballet.
Ballet requires the movement of most muscles in your body, giving you a full blown workout. Most people practicing ballet shed fat and have well toned muscles. This is because of the tough yet graceful movements one must aspire to do. It’s an excellent way to maintain the flexibility and tone the back and the abdominal muscles. This reduces the risk of back pain in the later years. It’s based on the premise of strength and grace, the focus it requires acts as a perfect distressing tactic.
At a ballet class, one is taught a series of simple exercises on a handrail called a ‘Barre’, which encourages better, straighter posture and strengthens the back muscles. Once that is taught, one must master the pirouettes and plies that, with practice, can create a well-defined waistline. Mat exercises include excruciating stomach crunches and push-ups. These definitely do not let up on your heart rate, which will definitely beat like a hammer inside you.
Ballet is set to beautiful background music, and requires a well spaced out studio with a lot of natural sunlight and reflecting mirrors. Practicing in such an atmosphere does wonders to the mind, leaving you calm and composed.
Most of the old school western dance forms have taken inspiration and followed techniques from Ballet. Contemporary is one such dance form that is completely inspired by ballet, this dance hit the Indian television scene when dance maestro Terrence Lewis introduced it on Dance India Dance and since then it has become a rage but, many do not realize that for a good contemporary number a strong ballet background is very important.
My dear friend Ava Barucha who is well known in India for her skills and techniques in ballet says ‘Ballet is one form that gives a dancers body a complete workshop, it’s a way to achieve all that you ever dreamt off, ballet makes a dancer mentally, physically and even emotionally strong.’ Ava adds ‘the key to attain advantage from ballet and its different exercises is to perform them regularly and most importantly do them sincerely, because it is this sincerity that affects the body the most.’
So if we dancers follow the advice given by Ava then I am sure by the end of it, we all will have a supermodel’s body and would have learnt some fancy footwork too.
(Sandip Soparrkar is a well known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with National Achievement and National Excellence Award by the Govt of India. He can be contacted on email@example.com)