By Kate Feinberg Robins
As an adult ballet dancer, I am continually working to find that balance between correct technique and the joy of dancing. I’m always worried about protecting my lower back. Like many dancers, I spent years training to bend in all different directions, without always doing it correctly. As I got older, the flexibility stuck, but the strength to hold my posture in alignment did not.
Then there was pregnancy with its joint-loosening hormones, all the extra weight my body had never carried before, and my pelvic floor and ab muscles moving into new positions. Nearly two years after childbirth, it’s still a constant struggle to keep my knees, ankles, feet, and pelvis all safely warmed up and in safely aligned positions.
But the secret of ballet is that correct technique is what allows you to find a place of calm strength where you can confidently center yourself, feel the music, and let the joy of dancing move you.
Ballet technique is incredibly complicated. If studying ballet is new to you, or if you've never trained at a professional studio, this might come as a surprise. If you have been training for a while, you're probably painfully aware of how hard it is to simultaneously do the million and one things that make the most basic of steps look both correct and easy.
On his website A Ballet Education (aballeteducation.com), former professional dancer and ballet teacher David JoongWon King has written a series of blog posts with detailed notes and drawings explaining how to perform ballet steps correctly. He covers basics like second position and tendu devant, as well as more complex steps like pirouettes and attitude derrière.
For beginning students, these "Notes" on ballet technique will feel overwhelming and abstract. I encourage you to take a quick look anyway, for these reasons:
When we look at all A Ballet Education’s drawings of perfectly proportioned people performing ballet steps with perfect technique, it’s easy to lose sight of the joy of dancing. But hidden within this complexity are basic principles of alignment that can keep you dancing safely and confidently through all kinds of challenges.
Sometimes to rekindle that joy, we need to pause, re-center ourselves physically, become one with the music, and just dance.