When you start learning ballet, it may seem that there’s such a lot on the technique side and not so much on the dancing, music and the fun stuff. But there are good reasons for that. So let’s look at why good ballet technique is so important.
Why technique matters
Technique is essential to good ballet but there is an even more core reason why it is such a big focus – good technique reduces the chance of being injured. Not only does it help you with the moves that make up the dance, it ensures that your body is in the right place to do this without hurting yourself. This is known as alignment and is a key part of any kind of dancing.
Take the feet and knees, the most important parts of dancing. Feet are normally used to propel us around with relatively balanced weight on them. But when you dance, you can move weight to the feet in unusual ways that, if done incorrectly, can easily cause injury. The same with the knees – those tendons, ligaments and muscles are strong but usually used in a certain way. Technique re-learns them to do things the dancer wants for their ballet moves without causing injuries which can happen when the weight is placed improperly.
Because this alignment is so important to ballet, there is a codified system of moves that have their own terminology. For example, there is port de bras – the movement of the arms. Learning ballet is about learning these techniques, these terms and understanding why they are so important.
What is also interesting is that much of the terminology used in ballet is also used in many other types of dance. Even hip-hop teachers will use the ballet term for bending (plie) when instructing their dancers. Most of the terms are in French but they have become a common language for dance around the world. And this means if you learn ballet technique and decide to move to a different area of dance or even a different country, those terms and concepts will still be familiar.
Strength and flexibility
Good ballet technique is about learning to dance while avoiding injury, but it also has a number of extra benefits that it brings. If you look at professional dancers, they are some of the most elite athletes you will find anywhere. Their strength, balance, control and flexibility is without par.
This strength and flexibility comes from training and working on their technique. The technique also ensures that they build the right kind of strength starting from the feet and ankles, then the hamstrings, core and rotation. Other techniques help with control and balance so that you can execute moves easily.
Technique at the heart
Technique is at the heart of all types of dancing and with good ballet technique you can not only master ballet but also learn a range of other types of dance with the strong foundation you put in place from your ballet classes.