Ballet, with its grace, excellence and beauty, has captivated audiences for centuries. Behind the stage, ballet training involves rigorous discipline, technique and a strong foundation. Ballet systems, which provide structured approaches to training and education, play an important role in its training. In this article, we will briefly explore the historical development of ballet systems, their importance, benefits and ultimately whether one option is better than another.
The origins of ballet go back to the late 15th century in the Italian aristocratic courts, which were known for their lavish shows and performances that combined music, dance and theatre. Italian dance masters, such as Domenico da Piacenza and Cesare Negri, documented early dance forms and codified techniques, helping to lay the foundation for ballet.
However, it was at the French royal court of King Louis XIV in the 17th century that ballet truly flourished and became institutionalised. In 1661 the Académie Royale de Danse was founded, which later merged with the Académie Royale de Musique to form the Paris Opera Ballet. This created the first official ballet academy, which laid the foundations for its technical vocabulary.
Over time, influential figures such as Pierre Beauchamp and Jean-Georges Noverre contributed to the establishment of ballet systems, shaping the foundations of this art form. Their dedication and expertise laid the foundations for the structured training methodologies we see today.
Ballet systems are based on principles that include technique, posture, alignment and movement vocabulary. These systems provide a framework for training, allowing dancers to progress through graduated levels while ensuring a comprehensive and systematic approach. They prioritize technical proficiency, providing dancers with a solid foundation of technique and specifically designed exercises to build artistic expression. By focusing on proper alignment, turnout and execution of movements, ballet systems promote strength, flexibility and precision. This strong technical foundation serves as a springboard for dancers to excel in their art.
Systems such as the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) program, the Vaganova Method, the Cecchetti Method, and the Balanchine Technique offer distinct approaches, emphasizing specific aspects of ballet training.
One of the main advantages of ballet systems lies in their consistency and standardisation across different educational institutions. By adhering to a defined curriculum and syllabus, dancers can move seamlessly between schools or even countries, ensuring a consistent level of training and facilitating a common language of movement.
Through a system’s classes, a balance between technical precision and artistic freedom is also ensured, allowing dancers to develop their unique style while honoring the essence of classical ballet. Balancing technical excellence with expressive interpretation is a fine line that requires careful training and guidance.
It is known to many: Ballet requires discipline. Ballet systems instill these qualities by creating a structured environment where students learn the value of dedication, perseverance and consistency. All of them essential life skills.
Some ballet systems, for example the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) and others, enjoy international recognition and accreditation. These systems provide a standardized approach to ballet training, providing students with the opportunity to pursue certifications and qualifications that are valued in the global ballet community. The credibility and prestige associated with these systems can enhance career prospects for aspiring dancers.
When it comes to choosing a ballet system, it is important to recognize that the specific system itself may not be as critical as we think. What really matters is the dedication, consistency and quality of training that dancers receive.
While attending a specialized ballet academy that follows a particular system may provide a more intensive and comprehensive training environment where dancers can fully immerse themselves in the techniques, principles and artistic vision of the system, this does not necessarily mean that dancers outside of such academies are at a disadvantage as long as they have joined a system. However, it is vitally important that ballet schools recognize the fact that they are not dealing with students who practice every day and for many hours, but with students who are just starting out and will have two or three times a week of ballet practice for many years to come. Ballet teachers should take this into account and take action and to do so, knowledge of psychology, pedagogy and anatomy is essential.
Regular and consistent training, regardless of the specific ballet system, is vital to the development of technical proficiency, strength and artistry. Through regular practice and guidance from experienced instructors, dancers can make progress and reach their full potential. It is no coincidence, moreover, that the National Opera (National Lyric Stage) has students who have trained in various ballet systems.
Ultimately, the choice of ballet system should not be a limiting factor or cause for concern. It is the love of dance, dedication to practice and access to quality instruction that is truly vital. Each child’s journey in ballet is unique and it is only through consistent effort, passion and a supportive learning environment that they can thrive and achieve their personal goals in this beautiful art form.