The Australian Ballet

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The Benefits of Ballet

What does a regular ballet class give you? Muscle-tone is just the start of a whole list of benefits you’ll find at the barre. Some may surprise you!

Improved muscle strength and cardio-vascular fitness
The ’ballet body’ is coveted for a reason. To maintain the skimming-the-heavens, taut verticality of classical dance, the postural muscles that support the spine must come into play, and the abdominal muscles too (hello six-pack!) Port de bras tones the arms, and all those quick beats, big jumps and the sustained holds of adage tone the legs (calf rises, which our Studios teachers incorporate into their barre, also do a wonderful job of this).

In ballet parlance, fast-moving choreography is called ‘puffy’. The jumps of the petit and grande allegro sections of class will give your heart and lungs a good puffy workout.

Improved balance
As we age, our ability to balance declines. In the later phases of our life, this may lead to an increased risk of falls. People who practise balance throughout their lives will have improved mobility and stability: nailing that arabesque on demi-pointe could help save your life! Interestingly, research has shown that dance can successfully improve walking speed and improve mood and happiness in people with Parkinson’s disease.

Improved mobility
Ballet is made up of circles and arcs, traced by your limbs as they move through the air. Ballet class takes your body through big, expansive ranges of movement, keeping your joints supple and your muscles strong. There’s a popular perception that ballet is damaging for the joints, but our world-leading research into hip health, conducted with our Research Partner La Trobe University, indicates that dancers’ hips show no adverse effects from their training; in fact, it appears that ballet may actually protect the joints.

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Cristiano Martino. Photography Lynette Wills

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Ako Kondo. Photography Lynette Wills

Mental agility
If you’ve ever seen professional dancers take class, you may have marvelled at their ability to see a complex chain of steps demonstrated by the ballet mistress or master, instantly absorb it and flawlessly execute it. Ballet gets your brain humming with different combinations of steps (called 'enchainments') each week – excellent for the health of your cerebral matter. Think of it as a highly physical form of cryptic crosswords.

Mental health
Dancing has always brought people together to socialise and celebrate. Coupled with a healthy level of physical activity, this is a brilliant way to improve your mental health. Bring on all those healthy neurotransmitters!

Dance is the art of telling stories without the need for words, so it’s a fantastic way to bring together groups of people who may not be able to communicate in the same language. So much so that dance has been successfully used as a way to bring together young families in culturally diverse neighbourhoods in the UK, helping new parents socialise and create friendships.

Artistic fulfilment
Pumping out the reps in the gym or pounding the pavements in your jogging shorts might get your pulse rate up, but you don’t get to transform into a swan or a snowflake as you do it. Our extraordinary pianists supply you with an inspiring soundtrack – inhabit the music and make the steps your own. Now you’re really dancing! Ballet class: it feeds your soul while it tones your glutes.

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Sharni Spencer. Photography Kate Longley

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Benedicte Bemet. Photography Kate Longley

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Callum Linnane. Photography Kate Longley