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quotations about ballet

Ballet is like dreaming on your feet.

I think most dancers would agree that the art of ballet chooses the dancer, not the other way around.

KEVIN MCKENZIE, forward, Ballet Dancers in Career Transition

In ballet a complicated story is impossible to tell…. we can’t dance synonyms.

GEORGE BALANCHINE, Life magazine, Jun. 11, 1965

The ballet is a purely female thing; it is a woman, a garden of beautiful flowers, and man is the gardener.

GEORGE BALANCHINE, Life magazine, Jun. 11, 1965

Dance design is not simply one element; it is that without which ballet cannot exist. As aria is to opera, words to poetry, color to painting, so sequence in steps -- their syntax, idiom, vocabulary -- are the stuff of stage dancing.

LINCOLN KIRSTEIN, forward, Four Centuries of Ballet

The real American type can never be a ballet dancer. The legs are too long, the body too supple and the spirit too free for this school of affected grace and toe walking.


Learning ballet is wonderful for children even if they never become dancers. It is wonderful because it teaches discipline, grace, and manners.

ANNA PASKEVSKA, Ballet: An Eight-Year Course

What's so wonderful about ballet is that it's mind-driven physicality. It's almost a Greek ideal of body, mind, and form.

EDWARD VILLELLA, Nancy Upper's Ballet Dancer's in Career Transition

Ballet dancers are a self-chosen elite. To survive and surmount years of disciplinary preparation and seasons of even more arduous performance requires rigid determination and almost mindless self-abnegation. One other factor is difficult to predetermine: without a certain admixture of hysteria -- sometimes masking as self-obsession, sometimes even counterfeiting incipient madness -- performers, at once acrobats, artists, and animals, make little public impression.

LINCOLN KIRSTEIN, Four Centuries of Ballet

Real men don't lift weights, they lift women.


Ballet quote

Heaven help the American-born boy with a talent for ballet.

CAMILLE PAGLIA, attributed, Choices in Relationships

I don't understand anything about the ballet; all I know is that during the intervals the ballerinas stink like horses.

ANTON CHEKHOV, attributed, An Irreverent and Thoroughly Incomplete Social History of Almost Everything

Life without ballet would be Pointeless.

@iSpeakBallet, Twitter post, Jul. 31, 2012

Ballet is pure and demands that you serve something larger than yourself, whether it be beauty or art, or a combination of both. It requires discipline, taking care of yourself, taking care of your own body first. Then it allows you to give of that beauty, the beauty that you acquire by sculpting your own body all your life.


To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other.

JACK HANDY, attributed, The 2,320 Funniest Quotes

Once a ballet is set, it's written in stone; the steps become a sacred text to be varied only by the inflections of interpretation. Productions or performers straying further are, in most cases, considered irresponsible or self-indulgent.

TOBI TOBIAS, New York Magazine, Feb. 8, 1993

Ballet is purifying, every movement physically honed and essential, with no superfluity or excess.

JENNIFER HOMANS, Apollo's Angels

Ballet is ultimately a logical technique; it favors the shortest, most efficient route from one position into another. This factor gives an aesthetic clarity to all motions.

ANNA PASKEVSKA, Ballet Beyond Tradition

I love ballet for its constancy. New governments rise up; new people appear on the scene; new facts arise; whole ways of life change; science and art follow these occurrences anxiously, adding to or sometimes changing their very compositions--only the ballet knows and hears nothing.... Ballet is fundamentally conservative, conservative to the point of self-oblivion.


Although most informed balletomanes would place artistry above technique, artistry without a strong technique is a flaccid, bloodless thing indeed, whereas technique without much artistry can still dazzle us in the manner of the circus or sports arena translated to a higher plane. Though the perfect blend of the two elements is the consummation devoutly to be wished, the real enemy of good ballet is not the slight preponderance of one or the other but the prevalence of pantomime--the turning of dance into second-rate theater.

JOHN SIMON, New York Magazine, Aug. 27, 1979

Life without ballet would be Pointeless.

You go to the ballet and you see girls dancing on their tiptoes. Why don't they just get taller girls?

GREG RAY, attributed, Great Funny Quotes

Ballet is a universe of the imagination, a place of magic and enchantment, beauty and romance. Its many worlds vibrate with graceful dancers, glorious music, and sumptuous costumes.


All ballet is dance, but not all dance is ballet.


Dancers infrequently experience their art as sexual: even when their limbs are wrapped around each other or they are joined in impassioned embrace, ballet is too unreal and contrived—pure artifice—and requires too much work and technical concentration to permit arousal.

JENNIFER HOMANS, Apollo's Angels

A dancer must defy many things, gravity is only one of them.

@iSpeakBallet, Twitter post, Jan. 24, 2013

Ballet is all about bodies, bodies in motion, about line and curve and bulge, about arms and legs and backsides, as much as it is about princes and swans. There's no escaping it, although many hotly insist that to talk of ballet as physical and erotic is to demean the art. What shows through their indignation are signs of the age-old dilemma of integration: is sexuality something one keeps carefully apart from the other activities one engages in like eating, bathing, thinking, dancing, or even appreciating dance; or should it be integrated naturally into the fabric of human experience?


If ballet is not inherently sexual, it is often highly sensual and erotic: the human body publicly revealed. If there is a tension here between physicality and spirit, earth and heaven, it is easily resolved: even at its most risqué, ballet remains an idealized art.

JENNIFER HOMANS, Apollo's Angels

Ballet is the repetitive training of the body for the purpose of executing steps in traditional fashion. It is tied to and bound by the past. It is a disciplined beauty consciously preserved in the image of the old days in societies that were class-conscious and appreciative of elitist physical expertise.


Contrary to vulgar legend the lives of great ballerinas are not entirely given up to a few minutes of graceful movement every night followed by champagne drunk out of their toeshoes till dawn, in the company of financiers ... no, most of their time is spent in filthy rehearsal halls, inhaling dust, or else in class, daily, year in year out, practicing, practicing even after they are already prima ballerinas.

GORE VIDAL, Death in the Fifth Position


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