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The professional ballet dancer has typically been trained since early childhood, in which the training has been strenuous and repetitive (Clarke & Crisp, 1976). In order to be a professional ballet dancer, one must have proper placement, execution of movements and combinations and an ability to interpret both the ballet teacher’s and choreographer’s instructions (Minden, 2005; Paskevska, 1990). A ballet dancer uses their body as an instrument that presents movements and combinations with great flexibility and natural grace (Minden, 2005; Neale, 1980; Speck & Cisneros, 2003).

In order to get to that natural grace, the dancer has trained, at minimum, for eight to ten years. After the training to reach the professional level has been met, there is still training throughout the entirety of their career. Even though a dancer is considered a professional, they still must continue to train their bodies through daily class (Clarke & Crisp, 1976; Neale, 1980). These daily classes are much the same as those classes taken during a dancer’s childhood.

The purpose of taking daily classes are to warm up the body and examine proper body placement. Classes also provide opportunities to improve proper placement of the arms and head (Minden, 2005; Paskevska, 1990; Paskevska, 1992).

A dancer’s schedule is intense. If a dancer works for a well-known professional company, there is little time for vacation. In addition to the regular season, a ballet company also has a touring season, in which they tour throughout the country and often, out of the country (Neale, 1980). This leaves only a short window for a dancer to take time to rest (Clarke & Crisp, 1976; Neale, 1980). Even when not on tour or in the regular season, a dancer will still participate in daily class to keep their body prepared for the upcoming season (Speck & Cisneros, 2003).

When it comes to the dancerís character, the same rule applies as with the teacher. A professional dancer is graceful, understanding and patient. They recognize their bodyís abilities and interpret the teacher and choreographerís needs (Minden, 2005; Neale, 1980). A ballet dancer also is professional in that she shows respect to her fellow dancers, teachers, ballet master or mistress as well as choreographer and artistic director (Clarke & Crisp, 1976; Kassing & Jay, 1998; Minden, 2005).

To show respect and professionalism, there are basic rules to follow. First, the dancer comes to class, rehearsals and performances on time, possibly even early to do personal warm-ups and stretching on the body (Minden, 2005). Secondly, the dancer is patient and respectful of those around them (Paskevska, 1990). If other dancers require more time and attention from the teacher or being directed, a dancer needs to be patient and respectful (Minden, 2005). If a teacher also seems to be instructing difficult steps, the best thing a dancer can do is be patient and have a good attitude (Kassing & Jay, 1998; Minden, 2005).

The third rule of professionalism and respect as a dancer is to pay attention to instructions given. It is the dancerís responsibility to remember their part. Finally, a dancer needs to stay until class, rehearsals or performances are over. Leaving class early causes disruption to other dancers and faculty. As a side note, if the dancer must leave early, the faculty or teacher needs to be told beforehand so that they are aware and more understanding. If the dancer has no choice but to leave early, they need to leave with the least amount of disruption possible (Kassing & Jay, 1998; Minden, 2005).

 

With as much training as the dancer has had, their knowledge and education of ballet are often passed onto future generations. This is when a dancer transitions into becoming a ballet teacher or other faculty member. A ballet dancer typically does not have the normal career span because of the strains it places on the body as well as susceptibility of obtaining permanent injuries, which prevent them from continuing in their dance career (Neale, 1980). These reasons often lead a dancer to becoming a ballet teacher. As such, a ballet dancer, especially when nearing the end of their dance career, needs to pay special attention to how their teachers teach them. Not all dancers are great teachers, but if a dancer desires to become a teacher, observation and education is key (Kassing & Jay, 1998; Minden, 2005).

 

Overall, a professional ballet dancer loves what she does. And adhering to ballet etiquette is just part of the job, but also should not be taken lightly. Ballet etiquette includes abiding by the rules of the classroom, rehearsals and performances, respecting those around them and appreciating the art that is ballet (Kassing & Jay, 1998; Minden, 2005). Dancers find joy in their abilities to move their bodies with grace and beauty. It is with the discipline, commitment and passion for ballet that makes a professional dancer (Minden, 2005; Neale, 1980).