Fun Fact: Ballet Class Isn’t What it Used to Be…Thank Goodness!

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. I need an ice pack just thinking about this…

A ballet barre from the 1820s:

“48 pliés followed by 128 grand battement, 96 petit battement glissé, 128 ronds de jambes sur terre and 128 en l’air, and ending finally with 128 petit battement sur le cou-de-pied. One inevitable consequence of this extreme training was a sharp rise in injuries.”

– Jennifer Homans, Apollo’s Angels, 2010, p. 129-130

Oh, and all of this was repeated in center. Yikes. Do not try at home.

Extreme Ballet Training Image Clara's Coffee Break
Created with Wikimedia Commons Public Domain Image – Not a Painting of an 1820s Ballet Class, in Case You’re Wondering 😉

Jumping Like a Toad?

Image Adapted From Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Image
Image Adapted From Wikimedia Commons Creative Commons Image

It wasn’t always considered bad technique to perform ballet jumps with bent knees! Maria Taglioni, the Romantic Era ballet icon, actually thought it looked better that way:

“But (unlike today’s dancers) she jumped with bent knees […] She disparaged dancers who straightened their knees too stiffly in the air, springing up “like toads”. The idea was to make the jump appear effortless and soft, rounded and feminine—never stiff or strained with effort.”

Apollo’s Angels, Jennifer Homans, p. 140