Have you ever walked on a broken bone, a sprained ankle or even just a sore foot? It’s not fun — we know that for sure. We definitely wouldn’t choose to do so on a regular basis. But, guess what? Injuries are just another part of the job description for ballet dancers. They dance through excruciating pain regularly.
Many of the mats in our Josephine and Brianna collections feature ballet dancers, and we didn’t do that just because they’re gorgeous. If you haven’t noticed already, ballerinas are pretty freaking amazing. These individuals are some of the most talented and physically adept athletes around, but they’re often under-appreciated because they aren’t as rough as football players or traditional sports athletes.
Ballet isn’t just classical music and fancy shoes. There are many styles of ballet, and at least six different methods around the world. Each type focuses on a different technical aspect of ballet. After closer inspection, you’ll also see trademarks for each form.
All around, ballet is a precise art form that is not only graceful and elegant but physically draining as well. It’s essential for a ballerina to be confident in his or her strength and flexibility, and have an acute awareness of balance at all times. The way ballet dancers move their bodies is frankly strange. They turn out their hips and point their toes in ways that no regular human being would. These dancers test the laws of physics with their bodies. And to consistently perform these movements for hours on end, ballet dancers need to have incredible flexibility. They’re moving through dozens of splits, pirouettes, and leaps over and over. To perform these feats daily, a ballerina must be extremely aware of their body’s strength and flexibility.
Ballet dancers are constantly being pushed to their physical extremes and testing the limits of the human body. Few dancers reach the professional level due to the high level of physical and artistic ability required of them. And actually, “compared to the 61 common sports, only professional football (American) is more physically demanding than ballet.” (Cleveland Clinic)
So not only is ballet physically demanding, it is insanely time-consuming as well. Over the course of a typical dance season, a professional dancer spends forty-three to forty-six hours dancing every week. This time includes 9 hours of class, 26 hours of rehearsal, and 8–12hours of performance. Talk about exhausting!
On top of the intense physical demands and time commitment, ballerinas are expected to keep a lean body to reduce the risk of injury while dancing. As athletes, these individuals also focus heavily on their nutrition. They eat only a small amount of dairy, and their diets contain much less sodium and refined carbohydrates than the average American. Instead, fruits, vegetables, and vitamins become the priority.
Ballet dancers, like all other athletes, are prone to injuries. If one of us got hurt, we’d go to the doctor’s office where they’d tell us to “take it easy” and keep off our injured body part. But, a ballerina is just expected to dance through the pain. It doesn’t matter how bad it hurts the performance is a dancer’s priority.
The only time that a ballerina can use a brace is during practice. When it comes time to perform, they have to take it off because it doesn’t fit the aesthetic of the ballet. An unsightly ankle-brace on a ballerina will distract the audience from the show, whereas the crowd at a sporting event wouldn’t give the same brace on a basketball or football player a second thought. To people who’ve never danced a day in their lives, this sounds awful and so painful! But, for professional dancers, they can’t afford to miss a performance, regardless of their discomfort. When a ballerina can’t perform, someone else takes their place. One injury could ruin a dancer’s opportunity to move up in the industry. The show must go on, as they say.
The more you look at the art and athleticism of ballet, the more you see just how badass these people are. In case you aren’t 100% convinced that ballet dancers are some of the most impressive athletes/artists in the world, here are a few more snippets of info to enlighten you:
- Romanian Police Officers took ballet classes to help them get better at managing traffic with more grace.
- A male dancer lifts approximately 1–1.5 tons worth of ballerinas during performances.
- Every time a dancer jumps on pointe, he or she carries 3× their body weight on the tip of the big toe.
- A professional ballerina on average goes through 2–3 pairs of pointe shoes weekly.
- In general, the amount of energy it takes to perform a professional ballet is equivalent to playing two full football games or running 18 miles.
So the next time you question the strength or skill of a ballet dancer, you might want to think twice because they’re probably one of the impressive athletes you’ll ever meet. And if you’re just as crazy about ballet dancers as we are, consider checking out a few of our ballerina-inspired yoga mats over in the Josephine and Brianna collections!