Behind the curtain of the professional ballet

The practice, focus and discipline it takes to rise to the top of the ballet world

Behind the curtain of the professional ballet
written by Hailey Fraser
January 20, 2017 5:03 pm

Name: Hailey Fraser

Instagram Handle: @haileyfraser

Occupation/Major in school: BA in International Development Studies with a minor in Law & SocietyMy name is Hailey Fraser and I am a second year student at Dalhousie from Inverness, NS. Growing up I was always surrounded by creativity, which is why I am so into photography today. In the future, I would like to travel and continue my education at the graduate level.

The main idea behind my photo essay was to show readers what it really takes to be a professional ballet dancer. When we think of ballet we think of pink tutus, graceful movements, and exceptional emotion portrayed in performance. I wanted to showcase ballet in a different light and capture the hard work that it takes to become the best. Not unlike an Olympic athlete, it takes many years of practice, focus, discipline, determination, endurance, and strength to rise to the top. The photos I took were meant to be raw and real in order to depict how a ballet class actually works. I wanted to make sure that people understood that ballet is not just a hobby, it is both an art form and a serious profession.

 

Stephanie Audet (Canada) of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.

For many little boys and girls, watching a ballerina perform on stage is a dream come true. The costumes are extravagant, the lighting is radiant, and the dancing is both passionate and elegant. Everything about ballet is conveyed so perfectly on stage. However, ballet isn’t all fancy costumes. Ballet is much more than that. Behind all the makeup and the tutus is a tough, meticulous, technical, and physically demanding profession and art form.

 

Eldiyar Daniyar (Kyrgyz Republic) of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.

Most professional dancers know from a very young age that they want to make a career out of it; and in order to do that, they need to work incredibly hard and commit to hours and hours of warm ups, barre exercises, centre work, and rehearsal. Professional ballet dancers are both creative artists and trained athletes, and they dedicate almost every day to dance.

 

Erica Moisei (Maldova) of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.

 

Stephanie Audet (Canada) of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.

So what happens behind the closed doors of a ballet studio? Dancers begin their day bright and early in the morning, wearing layers and layers of clothing to keep their bodies warm. They stretch and contort their bodies into different positions in order to both prevent injury and to warm up their bodies.

 

Stephanie Audet (Canada) of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.

 

Sergiy Diyanov (Ukraine) of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.

 

From left to right: Sergiy Diyanov (Ukraine), Stephanie Audet (Canada), and Eldiyar Daniyarov (Kyrgyz
Republic) of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.

A good dancer has excellent technique, and in order to achieve this, they do barre exercises. The ballet barre is home for many dancers. The barre begins slowly, increasing in intensity as the exercises continue. A typical ballet barre usually begins with plies and ends with grand battements. Each individual movement and exercise is important in maintaining and building the basic technical movements a dancer does.

 

Stephanie Audet (Canada) of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.

 

Eldiyar Daniyarov (Kyrgyz Republic) of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.

The barre is strengthening and physically exhausting for the body. It is also a place of determination, discipline, and focus. Each and every time a dancer arrives at the barre, a dancer is improving, striving, and pushing their minds and bodies to become even better than before.

 

From left to right: Sergiy Diyanov (Ukraine), Olga Petiteau (France), and Eldiyar Daniyarov (Kyrgyz Republic) of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.

Ballet class continues with center work. Center work varies from class to class and can include pirouette combinations and jumps. After ballet class, the dancers rehearse for the next masterpiece to grace the stage – perhaps classics like the Nutcracker and Swan Lake, or a newly choreographed piece. Whichever it may be, what goes on inside the walls of a ballet studio is what prepares them for the perfection performed on stage.

 

Erica Moisei (Maldova) of the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada.