The Art of Classical Ballet and Writing Compared – A Musing

I don’t know if anyone else has had, or is still busy with, an artsy profession other than writing, but I’m sure you can come up with some interesting comparisons and similarities just as I have.

Keeping fit for me requires hard work, but doing a ballet class does it like nothing else. It reaches every muscle – major and intrinsic – and keeps my mind and body strong and fit as the years march on.

Writing, and doing it consistently, works the same way – although, unfortunately, when it comes to the waistline it isn’t so great!! He-he! Writing requires as much commitment and dedication, knowledge and understanding of the craft as does ballet because if you can’t do it reasonably well then you’re going to run into problems.

Painting of ballet dancers by Edgar Degas, 1872.

Painting of ballet dancers by Edgar Degas, 1872. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ballet requires you to deeply and truly understand your body and the technique required to prevent injury – immediate and long-term – and so be in total command of it. It requires absolute focus and incredible awareness of yourself, and you have to be very musical and expressive, as well. At least once you’ve moved out of the examination (amateur) status and into the professional arena you don’t have to worry about failing that much anymore – unless, of course, you get onto the stage and, because of your lack of commitment and hard work and your lack of the technical knowledge needed to successfully perform at the required level, you end up falling flat on your face (quite literally!) and causing damage to your body and your reputation. In a sense, being a professional dancer takes more work psychologically than being a student still in the learning process, a learning process that takes a lot of time and is pretty slow going, quite necessary to prepare an aspiring dancer to achieve his or her dreams. Students (amateurs) are quickly forgiven for their mistakes in technique, but professional ballet dancers are expected to be brilliant, ethereal, strong, and beautiful – in other words, as close to perfect as possible!

With writing we also don’t stop learning no matter how high up in the ‘rankings’ we go. We move on from being amateurs and advance into the professional arena, therefore our writing abilities have to match our status. It is expected that we no longer write like amateurs/students the moment we call ourselves ‘published authors’. Our craft always has room for improvement – just much less so the better we get at it, just like a professional dancer – requiring absolute dedication and commitment and, most important, A TOTAL LACK OF EGO! As a professional dancer you learn quickly that you need to be arrogant onstage in order to perform at your best, to be enigmatic and charming, to draw the audience in by showing off your brilliance, and fully engage them emotionally in your performance (sounds exactly like writing, doesn’t it?) – but then be completely humble offstage.

By all means, believe in your writing abilities and think highly of yourself when you sit in front of your computer and create your masterpiece, showing off your brilliance to the world, but always be willing to listen and learn and accept constructive criticism from others because your goal is to get better and better at your craft. Even the ‘superstars’ of the literary world must know (hopefully) that they can always learn something new, that there is always someone who has a better, deeper understanding than them in a particular area. As writers we must be careful that we never reach the place in our lives where we think we know everything . . . because we never do! The superstars of the dance world are very aware (almost painfully) of their own shortcomings, believe me, and are always trying to improve their technique to remain the best at their craft. Because there is always someone better than them out there and they know it!

“Pursue knowledge as though it is your life-blood, then you will know greatness!” – my personal belief.

Just like dancers, us writers need to be consistently nurturing and improving our craft and increasing our knowledge and exercising our minds, because if we don’t have the knowledge to combine with our incredible, unlimited imaginations, how will we ever be great? You can’t have one without the other, I keep telling my ballet students; you cannot separate knowledge from artistry. You simply cannot achieve the success you want if you don’t have both, whether a dancer or a writer.

I was a successful professional dancer for over twenty years so I know what I’m talking about when it comes to being a performer. As I’ve entered the vast universe of writers and see everyday how many are so good at what they do, I’ve come to realise that I will never stop learning and growing and improving, and that by listening and reading others’ works I can only improve my own writing. So let me take this opportunity to say two things: First, thank you to those who have so far inspired me and opened my eyes to the art of writing and for showing me exactly what it requires to become really good, if not great, at it; and, second, I am thrilled that I began on a good note, with amazing teachers, advisers and supporters from the very start of my writing career whose excellence have made my schooling in the craft of writing such a pleasure.

To everyone who reads this blog, thank you for inspiring and teaching me! Even if it wasn’t directly just believe that something about you as a person or in your work has impacted me. Please, don’t stop being you and don’t stop teaching others. And, please, whatever you do, don’t stop learning!

Happy writing/performing/creating!

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About SwordBearer

I am a fantasy and science fiction author. I have published three epic fantasy novels in a tetralogy with Xlibris Publishing, and a sci-fi short story, The Door. All are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other major online retailers. The Door is also available on Smashwords. I love reading everything from King to Koontz, Cussler to Brooks and Feist, to name but a few. Before writing became my life I was a professional ballet, jazz/contemporary dancer in South Africa. Writing and storytelling have always been passions since childhood, and I want to share them with the world!!

Posted on May 25, 2012, in Believe in Your Writing Abilities, Passion versus Knowledge, You are a Creator! Believe it! and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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