A ballet dancer [danseuse (female) danseur (male)] is a dancer who practices the art of classical ballet based on traditional technique and vocabulary. Many years of extensive training (starting as early as age 2) are required before a ballet dancer has a chance to join a professional ballet company, and there is an established hierarchy ranking system within a company as well as strict gender roles. Ballet training also takes a toll on a dancer’s body, making ballet dancers prone to serious injury after years of continuous physical strain.
The strength and stamina required of ballet dancers are not always obvious to a spectator as they make the physical demands of jumps, turns and lifts on pointe appear to be effortless during a performance, and there’s seldom a mention of a dancer’s personal sacrifice and total commitment. In these short videos, ballet dancers tell their stories and provide a glimpse of the goings-on backstage and behind-the-scenes.
En pointe (‘on the tips of their toes’) is classical ballet technique performed wearing special pointe shoes that enable a dancer to support all body weight on a fully extended vertical foot. Consequently, the construction and wearing of pointe shoes involves a very complicated process unique to each ballet dancer.
The tutu is a costume dress worn in a ballet performance, made of fabrics such as tarlatan, muslin, silk, tulle, gauze and nylon. There are two basic types of modern tutus as well as several derivative styles: the Romantic tutu is soft and bell-shaped with the skirt reaching down between a dancer’s knee and ankle; the Classical tutu is short, stiff and projects horizontally from the dancer’s waist and hip.
Watch: The Dance, an On2In2™ video collection of dance performances and inspirational stories
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Feature photo is courtesy of Flickr user, Pilar Castro, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0