What does it take to become a ballet dancer?
Is it hard work, natural abilities, or talent and the teacher with the right method? Although some ballet teachers believe hard work, natural abilities, and talent are the major factors, I believe that the teacher with the right method is the key to a student's success.
From the time I was a ballet student, I tried to understand why some dancers, while studying within very same school using the very same method, were able to perform ballet steps with ease and elegance but others could not.
Although those who were very successful in ballet often had the desired physical attributes, this was not always the case. While some dancers seemed to be built with the capacity to reach a high level of technical advancement, they did not. Yet others, without such natural attributes, were going above and beyond their “physically perfect” peers. Some dancers had constant problems with injuries, while some performed their whole careers without such issue.
For decades, while performing and teaching ballet, I have had the opportunity to observe professionals in variety ballet training methodologies. What I’ve seen are a multitude of approaches and opinions in any given school of ballet training, and a complete lack of any consistency.
When I’ve asked my colleagues, ballet teachers, why we give the instructions or corrections the way we do, the usual response is, “Because that is how it has always been done.” No rhyme or reason is given, just a response that tradition is the reason enough.
This answer did not answer the question of why physically gifted dancers failed to realize their potential while less physically “perfect” dancers excelled. I decided to search for a method of ballet training that would find the answer and build on it to help all dancers achieve a high level of technical skill.
This search led me to develop a new approach to ballet training, which I describe in this book. This method will be beneficial to all levels of dancers who are eager to gain the most from their training, and to all ballet teachers who want to deepen their understanding of how to increase their efficiency in teaching ballet to their students.
My method is derived from my knowledge and experience as a student of the Moscow State Academy of Classical Ballet (Bolshoi Ballet) and my professional career as a ballet dancer and teacher in Russia and USA.
My method can be used as an additional tool for all of the renowned ballet methods and schools: French, Italian, Russian (The Vaganova Method), Danish (Bournonville), The Royal Academy of Dance (England), and the Balanchine style (USA). It is not in the conflict with any of those existing schools or their philosophies. In fact it is quite the opposite: it could unite them.
Furthermore, the concept of my method has other applications as well. It can be beneficial to athletes in training, used as an adjunct to physical therapy in general, as well as physical therapy specific to ballet dancers with chronic injuries.