Mustangs Involved in Unusual Sports: Ballet, a Completely Valid Sport in Itself

Kaoru Murai, Staff Writer

The activity of ballet is both a physically and mentally demanding art form. Ballet dancers can spend anywhere from 2~4 hours at a time dancing, constantly utilizing their muscles to keep themselves aloft on the tips of their toes, and making highly technical movements without showing a hint of difficulty.

Ballet is not the traditional sport, involving no regular games, teams, or matches. Nor is it like competitive dance, where there are competitions at various stages, including at the national level. However, even without the formalities of official competition, the dancers always are competitive within themselves. They are constantly striving to better their abilities, and engaging in competition of skill with their peers. Ballet dancers are both athletes and artists at the same time.

“I hear people saying all the time that dance isn’t a sport,” Freshman Hannah Geerlings states. “But they’re wrong! Ballet is definitely a sport because we literally spend half our lives at the studio.”

Geerlings is an enthusiastic dancer, focusing primarily on ballet. Every week, she goes to Ballet Arts School of Dance in Kalamazoo for highly intense ballet classes. The dancers at the school spend at least an hour going through a series rigorous warm ups called barre exercises. Then, the next hour and half of class is spent by going through varieties of complicated dance combinations, which dancers are required to learn in just a few minutes before performing, or practicing in special shoes called pointe shoes which allow them to go completely up on their toes.

“When you’re doing ballet, you have to think about several things simultaneously,” Junior Sarah Stroh, also an avid dancer at Ballet Arts Studio explains. “You have to think about placement, moving the body in an unnatural way, learn all the combinations, be strong enough to keep yourself up on your toes, all the while being graceful.” She feels that coordination is essential in order to successfully dance. Due to those points, Stroh strongly agrees with Geerlings that ballet is indeed a sport, though it is an art form as well.

Sarah Stroh, dancing in Ballet Arts Ensemble's Swan Lake
Sarah Stroh, dancing in Ballet Arts Ensemble’s 2016 production of Swan Lake

Both dancers are members of the Ballet Arts Ensemble, a non profit youth ballet company that is situated in Kalamazoo. It is a highly competitive company, only admitting dancers through auditions held every spring. The Ensemble is very well known for their full length Nutcracker ballet performances that are held once every two years in collaboration with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.

Currently, they are both rehearsing rigorously for their fall production, Hansel and Gretel, which is scheduled to be held on Nov. 12 and 13 at Chenery Auditorium.

“We spend a lot of time doing this, and sacrifice so much to continue getting better at what we love to do.” Geerlings reinforces. “So if you get the chance, you should totally come see us at Hansel and Gretel in November.”

 

To hear more about unusual sports our Mustangs play, stay tuned for the second issue of the Central Stampede, coming out in December!