It is the childhood dream of many women: To dance once as a ballerina in the Nutcracker. In a white tutu, the ballet skirt made of fine tulle. But many also know: it is hard work to dance so gracefully, and that requires a perfectly trained body. You want that on top of everything else? Okay.
The good news is that the dream doesn’t have to remain a dream, but can become reality at 20, 30 or 40. The rather bad news: ballet is hard work and an intensive workout. Reason enough to take a closer look at the dance workout.
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What is ballet?
Most of them have probably heard of ballet before. Whether as a classical performance in large halls or from childhood days as sports lessons. The word “ballet” comes from the Italian language. The word “balletto” simply means dance.
By ballet we understand today mostly a stage dance, which is performed accompanied by classical music before an audience. Due to its strict positions, postures and figures, ballet clearly distinguishes itself from contemporary dances.
Ballet involves the use of approximately every muscle in the body. © Nomad_Soul / Shutterstock.com
Which muscles are used in ballet?
In ballet, just about every muscle in your body is used. Because classical dance stands for elegance and lightness – but everything that looks light is 100 percent body control and absolute control of all parts of the body. In other words: muscle work is required here! From the tips of the feet to the fingertips, everything is stretched, stretched, strengthened and made mobile. Especially the calves, thighs, bottom and abdominal muscles are made really fit.
What else is trained in ballet?
In addition to the muscles, stamina is also required, because the rapidly changing postures get your circulation going and often really get you out of breath. Another plus: ballet classes also train your coordination, because fingers, hands, arms, legs, feet – everything has to be controlled and brought into position individually.
The mind is also strained: if you want to learn ballet, you have to remember the individual positions and postures, memorize a choreography and look relaxed. Not so easy at all! Those who are a little more experienced, however, will soon notice that ballet is not only good for the body, but also for the soul. Because when you dance, you quickly forget about time and everything around you.
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How many calories do you burn in ballet?
Ballet is a real strength workout that can really make you sweat. Thanks to the muscle mass that is built up, the body burns more and more calories after a while. During a 90-minute ballet lesson you will burn 500 calories. And have fun, learn how to move gracefully and elegantly – it doesn’t get any better than this.
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Is ballet healthy for the body?
If you learn ballet step by step and give your body enough time to adapt, ballet is a good, healthy workout for you. As is often the case here: listen to your body, accept your limits and above all, have fun.
You often hear about skinny, starving ballerinas who torture themselves every day in ballet schools with bleeding toes and competition. This may occasionally be the case in the professional ballet scene, but has no place in the hobby sector. The passion and joy of dancing should always be in the foreground.
What positions are there in ballet?
It is precisely these positions that make ballet so distinctive and untypical. We explain the 6 foot positions of the ballet:
- Position: In the so-called first position, the feet stand in a line next to each other and the heels touch each other. The legs are therefore closed.
- Position: The second position is similar to the first, the feet are also in line, the heels point to each other but do not touch. The legs are opened hip-wide.
- Position: In the third position, the feet stand in front of each other, the heel of the front foot touches the longitudinal arch of the rear foot.
The longitudinal arch is the part of the inner foot that is approximately in the middle and curves slightly inwards.
- Position: The fourth position is basically the same as the third, with the difference that the heel of the front foot does not touch the longitudinal arch of the rear foot, but is approximately one foot length between the two.
- Position: In the fifth position, the two feet stand in front of each other.
The heel of the back foot touches the ball of the little toe of the front foot.
- Position: The sixth and last position is the simplest position: The feet are parallel and the toes point forward. The feet touch each other, which means the legs are closed.
Ballet Glossary: These are the most important terms
In addition to the foot positions, there are of course other important terms that you should perhaps know before your first ballet lesson. We have collected the most important ballet buzzwords for you:
- Barre: Barre simply translates as “barre” and refers to the part of the ballet class that is performed at the barre. The barre serves the students as a balance aid.
- Changement: Changement refers to steps or jumps that are executed with a change of foot position.
- Chassé: You’ve probably seen a Chassé before: It’s a sideways walking movement that’s easily jumped. It is also popularly called a lateral gallop.
- Demi-plié: With the Demi-Plié the feet are in one of the foot positions, half a knee bend is performed, the heels must not lift off the ground.
- Pas de deux: Pas de deux is the French term for a danced duet.
- Pirouette: A pirouette is a turn on one leg.
- Plié: With the Plié, as with the Demi-Plié, the feet are in one of the foot positions, a full knee bend is performed, the heels must not lift off the ground.
- Relevé: If the teacher says “Relevé!”, this means that the dancers should walk on their toes. Literally translated, it means “to raise”.
- Temps: Temps are the counting times.
- Tendu: When tendu is required, one leg is extended forward, to the side or backward.
- Tutu: The tutu is the ballet skirt made of tulle.
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When should you start ballet?
This is where we have to put an end to a rumor. Learning ballet is not only possible as a child. Perhaps that is true when it comes to the path to becoming a professional ballerina. But on a hobby level, anything is possible.
No matter if you have danced as a child or teenager or dance lessons are totally new territory for you: ballet is now offered in many studios for beginners of all ages.
How can I learn ballet?
The best thing is to find a studio that specifically addresses its courses to newcomers. There, in a relaxed, informal atmosphere, dancing is learned step by step. Important: Fun is the main focus here. For sports, and that is ballet, you should be happy to go.
Ballet classes are held in dance studios, fitness studios or sometimes at the adult education centre. There you learn the different foot positions, postures and jumps from qualified trainers. Usually a choreography is also rehearsed.
Can I do ballet at home?
If you like to practice ballet at home, you should definitely have enough space in your apartment. Ideally, the positions and postures should be practised in a large room in front of a mirror. A ballet bar is also helpful.
If you enjoy your first ballet lessons so much that you can’t get enough at home, you can buy a mobile mirror (to fold up) and a mobile ballet bar and practice the sequences.
What accessories are needed for ballet?
If you have registered for a ballet course, you should make sure that you wear tight clothes. This supports your body awareness and helps the teacher to identify incorrect postures more quickly.
In most cases you do not wear sports shoes during ballet, but special ballet shoes that resemble sneakers. They facilitate a graceful foot position. Professional ballet shoes are also flat on the toes, making it easier for the dancers to dance on the tips. But this is absolutely no must for beginners.
During your ballet class you should also bring a small towel and enough water to drink. If anything else is required, the dance studio will surely inform you before the first class.
Ballet: Does it always have to be classical music?
As a rule, ballet is always danced to classical music. Modern ballet workouts such as Barre are somewhat freer and more contemporary and are usually danced to modern pop music.
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Be a ballerina one day: These are the best ballet schools
Almost every major city has a ballet or dance studio where you can have your first ballet experience. We have compiled a list of addresses where you can learn ballet:
- Hamburg: OnStage, Studio TanzKunst
- Berlin: Atelier de la danse, Ballet School Silvia Hadrich
- Munich: Esther Ballet School, Munich Ballet School
- Dresden: Sempermobilis, Ballet Studio Espiral
- Freiburg: Carniola Ballet School, Freiburg Ballet
Ballet is a beautiful sport, which makes you fit all around with a lot of fun without excessive ambition. Want to get in the mood? Then just try it out! With our information you are already very well prepared as a newcomer!