Ballet – Some of my Answers on Quora

What is the most difficult thing to do in ballet?

For beginners, I think it is the basic posture. It takes some years of practise to achieve it. This means a good extention of the whole body as well as the legs, turnout from the hips, realaxed arms and shoulders etc. And to understand that all the movement starts from the centre. A good basic posture helps with all the other difficulties. I mean all.

For more answers, see

Are yoga postures used as the foundation for ballet dancing or any other dance disciplines?

I am not sure if I understood this question right?

Yoga and ballet have different roots, in that sense they have nothing in common. But on the other hand, as the human anatomy is the same everywhere, they have a lot in common, as do all dance and fitness traditions.

I think that professional dancers as well as adult beginners could learn a lot from both yoga (not only stretching, but breathing exercises, meditation, relaxation etc) and the chinese traditions too – qigong, taijji etc. In qigong, there is also a great variety of breathing exercises, meditation etc, but the best thing perhaps is, that it teaches the basic posture in a relaxed way. If you go to Youtube, you will find hundreds of different slow motion walks, for example. Bagua is something too – it is perhaps the most ancient routine that goes to the roots of human evolution.

Ballet evolved from west-European folk dances, which then where adapted and modified in the European courts. Louis XIV, Le roi soleil, was especially an enthusiastic dancer. (It would be nice if they did some ballet nowadays, too, I mean the EU leaders.)

Yoga was developed in India. It was practiced even in Indus civilisation, which was a peaceful and rather egalitarian ancient civilisation. Yoga tradition really is something that thrives to health, and not so much to show off how the rich people behave and move. (I have to say this, even if I really love ballet and never get tired of watching the great dancers who can combine the technique and expression. For example Sylvie Guillem, a favorite of mine.)

Of course, there are Indian dance traditions – perhaps somebody else knows more about their connections to yoga.

Nowadays it is possible to learn from all different traditions to the benefit of health, physical self-knowledge and artistic expression. We live in exciting times!

How can you learn ballet at home?

You can learn ballet at home, at least at a beginners level. But then you need to use your head.

The ballet teacher speaks a lot. And he or she corrects your mistakes. When practising alone at home, you need to follow verbal instructions, preferably from a book. Then you must have a mirror. It is also very helpful to take videos of yourself when practising.

After this, watching videos for ex on Youtube is good, but as the only method of learning it can be a disaster. On Youtube you must also be critical and preferably search for videos made by real professionals, because there are a lot of enthusiastic students who perform ballet exercises not so correctly. It is very important to learn the correct basic posture from the beginning.

I recommend my book Ballet for Everybody – it is written for people who ask this same question. The barre work and some center work is explained in detail with detailed drawings. The most common mistakes are also explained. You will find more info here:

An other book for the same purpose is Ballet for Dummies. It contains more general information about ballet history etc, and the verbal instructions are good, but the illustrations are not detailed enough. For those who take classes it can be helpful. But I would not recommend it as a first guide for a beginner who wants to try ballet at home.

Perhaps it would be best to have both books – it costs a fraction of what real classes would, anyway.

Good luck to you!


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