Both rigorous and delicate, ballet can seem inaccessible, or even a bit scary. However, this sport is accessible to all and provides many benefits, both physical and psychological. Let's discover together the many benefits of ballet.
Accessible to All, No More Ideals
Ballet classes are accessible starting at age 4, even more so because "ballet is the basis of all dances," states Laetitia Colin Vialaneix, dance instructor and DECATHLON DANCE ambassador.
“Of course, we become less flexible with age, but everyone can make clear progress as they continue this athletic and artistic activity.” No more excuses not to start this art and follow in the footsteps of your favorite ballet dancers such as Benjamin Millepied, Sylvie Guillem or Misty Copeland.
Gain Coordination and Concentration
From the earliest age, beginning ballet provides many benefits, particularly when it comes to motor skills. In fact, “thanks to introductory ballet classes, the youngest children discover certain landmarks, learn about their body, and how to move through space. Plus, ballet helps them to gain concentration and work on their memory”, continues Laëtitia.
The exercises at the barre or on the floor, offered in ballet classes, work on coordination in order to later be able to control the variations in energy between very strong leg movements and lightness in the arms.
Work on Your Posture and Dance Lightly
“Unlike modern jazz and contemporary dance, which are more oriented to the ground, ballet is more airy”, notes Charlène Terrier, DECATHLON DANCE Ambassador. In fact, style and grace are the key words during ballet classes for strengthening your posture, gaining lightness, and perfecting your head position.
It's not a myth: while dance instructors tell boys to puff out their chests, girls need to raise the chin and lower the shoulders to emphasize their heads.
This work on elevating the body draws on the deep abdominal and back muscles to build a toned body and sculpted figure. Adagios, pirouettes, Grand Allegro, it's all there for improving your fitness.
Other than strengthening and working on all the muscle groups, ballet provides true muscle and joint flexibility. It's no secret, flexibility work is an essential part of ballet in order to achieve a balance between flexibility and strength in each muscle group. Splits, pancakes, Y or I, all flexibility positions are worked in order to gain range in the more dynamic movements such as grands jetés or grands battements.
Gain Confidence and Let Go
Beyond the physical work and body movements, doing ballet helps build confidence and let go throughout your dance classes. We'll admit that you won't feel totally at ease after just two ballet classes... but your drive and passion will push you towards this sense of letting go and freedom of movement that we can still attribute to ballet. Be patient and stay passionate, the psychological benefits will come.
Dance Classes: Barre Exercises, then on the Floor
A ballet class generally lasts between an hour and an hour and a half. It starts with a warm-up: you'll work on barre exercises. Barre work is used for learning and perfecting the movements that you'll later do on the floor, this time without support! This warm-up generally lasts half an hour, to prepare your body for more muscular work and to repeat and perfect the movements.
Work in the middle of the dance studio repeats the steps done at the barre, adding more movements and moving through space. The intensity of the exercises builds, starting with dégagés, adagios, and pirouettes, and then ending with small jumps to demonstrate all our energy during crosses with large jumps such as grands jetés.
Dance Classes: From Demi-pointes to Pointes
During the first years of ballet, dances are done in demi-pointe shoes. After a few years, your ballet instructor may suggest beginning pointe work, the step that all ballet dancers want to take. Pointe work uses your muscles more, which allows you to undertake a more intensive strength work for your ankles, feet, and core.
What Outfit for Ballet?
Ballet is highly codified and requires special equipment. In most dance schools, the instructor will ask that you wear a ballet leotard of a specific colour or a colour of your choice, a pair of tights (pink for the academic side, or black for the neo-classical side) and a pair of demi-pointe shoes. You can then complete your outfit with a skirt or a wrap top to perfect your warm-up.