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Geeky Ballerina

artistry + technique

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Elements of Artistry

At Geeky Ballerina we believe that a comprehensive ballet education is more than just mastering technique and classical vocabulary. Our elements of artistry are nine key concepts to integrate into your teaching to help students discover their own unique artistic expression. Students who have the opportunity to explore these elements throughout their training enhance their dance performance skills and find more confidence on the stage. Our newsletter and social media are the best ways to learn about new developments in integrating these elements into your classroom.

doodle of a ballet dancer

illustration by Sophie Weidmann

The Elements of Artistry that we emphasize include:

  • Breath

    • Breath can help or hinder dance. It isn't that there are rules for effectively using breath--in fact, the opposite is true. There are only ideas to experiment with. The dancer needs time in class to explore what breathing principles do and do not work for them. When a dancer knows how to use breath to support their work, the work becomes less forced and the dancer is more free to explore their potential.

  • Somatic Awareness

    • Somatic awareness is a person's internal awareness of their body and its movement and is key for dancers. This internal awareness helps dancers discern how their body can best perform a movement. Each dancer must learn for themselves how their body can use technique to facilitate expression and movement.

  • Body Carriage

    • ​​Body carriage (including posture) as a tool to enhance artistry and expression can be daunting for a dancer. So much of their body movement is decided by a choreographer, and dancers--especially in the corps de ballet--don't always get an opportunity to offer their opinion during the creation and rehearsal process. But postural communication can be very subtle and a dancer who becomes fluent in this language can add nuance to their performance while still remaining perfectly true to the choreographer's work. 

  • Line

    • A dancer's line is the combination of an immaculately placed position (primarily developed through years dedicated to establishing technique) and the anticipation of further movement. Developing the ability to convince the audience that there is something more coming, even in moments of stillness, requires each dancer to bravely experiment with their limits in the classroom and boldly be present on stage. 

  • Eye-line

    • Where the eyes go, the body follows. This is why if a dancer spots the floor, they will usually fall forward out of their turn. But the potential held in the eyes is so much more than a way to keep from falling down. Eye-line can be used to enhance and extend body lines, direct the audience's attention to an action, and create emotional connections between dancers on stage. Dancers who learn to use their eye-line to enhance their work are often described as "magnetic" or "having something special."

  • Carving Through Three-Dimensional Space

    • ​Bodies are three-dimensional, and so is the space they move through. When a dancer's training incorporates an exploration of their whole body and all the space they work within, they are better able to integrate their body image with their physical technique. Dancers who feel comfortable dancing with their whole body are far more compelling performers to watch because they bring a sense of realness and vulnerability that connects with viewers on a deep level.

  • Dynamics

    • Dynamics is the quality of a movement that creates the technicolor possibilities that make ballet such a rich language for communication. Dynamics should be varied in the classroom on a regular basis so that dance artists have a broad experience to draw from as they prepare for the stage. 

  • Musicality

    • ​​Musicality is the relationship the dancer shows between the music (whether it's a score, soundscape, or silence) and their movement. Dancers must understand concepts including rhythm, meter, timbre, and syncopation as well as having highly-developed listening skill

  • Acting

    • Acting is the art of using movement (including choreography, gesture, and body carriage) to communicate a character or emotion to an audience. Dancers use acting in classical story ballet as well as in many plotless contemporary works. Dancers with accomplished acting skills can seamlessly integrate their characterization into group work as well as shin in the spotlight as soloists.

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