I just read a post today about graceful dancers and it got me thinking on this interesting topic. I believe people are born with grace; however, it is how the grace is developed, which makes a true ballerina. There are many dancers that are born with grace, but they do not know how to use their quality to their advantage and fullest. The best ballerinas are the ones that make dancing look effortless with their grace.
This post also mentioned how companies like ABT and The Royal Ballet have dancers that are “so careful”. After being able to watch both The Royal and ABT live, I agree with this statement. This carefulness all starts in the school. Many talented kids come from all over the world striving to be in that one company. They feel the only way they can have that chance is to fit the mold, be that certain companies’ “type” of dancer. These dancers lose their individuality trying to please their teachers and fit in with the other kids. Now-a-days these big name schools give report cards critiquing students’ technique-never is there a category for grace. They may feel like they are different and often times become self-critical of their talent. Some even lose their joy for dance by becoming so obsessed with being a certain type. It is not humanely possible for people to be the same, especially dance the same. In an art like ballet, dancers get it in their heads that they have to fit a specific mold in order to be accepted. Through this process, they lose unique qualities that they may have been specifically gifted with.
When I watch old videos of past ballerinas, the first quality I notice is their passion and grace. There is one dancer in particular who I saw the other day that epitomized that passion and grace so perfectly. I have never seen a dancer come close to her grace. Every detail, every movement, is filled with grace from her soul. She never had just one style, actually, she had experience with many different styles, from training in London, to dancing in Denmark and Berlin, and getting coached my French and Russian teachers, she was very well-rounded.
Another dancer whom I admire is Alina Cojocaru. She is grace in its full form. After several years mesmerizing audiences at the Royal Opera House, she moved theaters to The Royal Albert Hall to dance with The English National Ballet. In 2011, Monica Mason told Alina Cojocaru, the definition of a perfect aurora, that “her style was no longer “Royal Ballet style” and she did not want her as Aurora in the autumn run of The Sleeping Beauty”. The article in The Telegraph also tells us that Alina even doubts her own talent, “Look,” she says, “if my director calls me and says, ‘I don’t want you as Aurora because your interpretation doesn’t suit my production’, how could I respond to that? All I could say was, ‘What is wrong? Could you have come to tell me so I can work on it?’ But the decision had been made already for me not to dance.”
This rejection is not because Alina lacks talent, but because she does not suit the mold anymore. What is the mold? I find it funny how so many talented and graceful dancers leave their companies that they grew up with and trained at: Sylvie Guillem-Paris Opera, Diana Vishneva-Kirov,Alessandra Ferri-The Royal Ballet. Is it because they wanted to challenge their talent? Is it because their grace was shining beyond the mold?
Melissa Hamilton, one of the most graceful dancers I have ever seen, got rejected from The Royal Ballet School. She is now dancing many major roles as a first soloist with The Royal Ballet. Why is it that she did not get into their school then? Was her grace mistaken for weakness?
I know ballet is evolving, but let’s not lose the grace in it. What do you think makes a dancer graceful? To me grace comes from the way they use their feet, sing the music, and the way they carry themselves with elegance. Learning a style will not give a dancer grace, it is only used as a way to transcend a dancers grace. Ultimately, ballet is ballet.