Performances and rehearsals are another normal part of ballet (Speck & Cisneros, 2003). Performances are able to exist because of the many hours put into rehearsal. With each performance there are also the subjects of ranking among the dancers (Clarke & Crisp, 1976; McDonagh, 1978; Speck & Cisneros, 2003).

Each role given to a dancer is an important one. For without each dancer, the production will not exist. The roles can vary according to country, but predominantly, the roles from the highest to lowest ranking include principal, soloist and the corps de ballet (McDonagh, 1978; Speck & Cisneros, 2003). The highest ranking given, higher even than that of principal, is given to the lead role. This is the role of prima ballerina absoluta. This role is rarely given to the dancer, who is the head female role. The principal dancer is more commonly the named lead role, particularly in the United States. This is the role of the main character/s of the production. The soloist is second to the principal in that they play second lead roles and are often fully capable of playing lead roles. The corps de ballet is the most common role given to a dancer. This is the group that is not a lead role and plays more of the characters in a ballet that are in the background (Speck & Cisneros, 2003). Although these are not the stars of the show, the practice they embark in is still rigorous and presents a unique challenge in that the dancers must dance in unison (Clarke & Crisp, 1976; McDonagh, 1978).


In addition to the parts of the dancers, there is rehearsal. Rehearsal involves being cast as a principal, soloist or corps de ballet position. Once the positions are in place, the rehearsals or practices begin. The rehearsals involve being taught the choreography of the ballet, which are created by the choreographer (McDonagh, 1978). The dancer practices these combinations repeatedly and in sections, much the same as practicing in class. The main difference lies in that the choreographer is the one directing the combinations. Choreographers will often think of the combinations with an idea in mind, but will change parts of it during rehearsal until they are satisfied of the final outcome (Clarke & Crisp, 1976).

Ballet masters or mistresses are also there for questions from dancers about the choreography. Ballet masters or mistresses can often be more knowledgeable of how many steps are involved in the combination versus the choreographer. This is because they are seen as positions for repeating choreographer, not creating it. Taking instructions and practicing these combinations can be tedious. However, with the large amount of hours put into rehearsals, this is what makes an outstanding performance (Clarke & Crisp, 1976; Minden, 2005).

There are rehearsals off stage and the cast is prepared, there are also rehearsals onstage. The purposes of the rehearsals on stage are to ensure the dancers’ safety and allow the directors, choreographers and dancers to get used to the stage in preparation for the performance. This also allows dancers and choreographers to work out and clarify any problems. What also takes place is a dress rehearsal. All the dancers dress in full costume in order to make further corrections and get further acquainted with the stage. This also allows the dancers to get a feel for what is will be like once the performance begins. This also helps them get used to the idea of an audience being present (Minden, 2005; Speck & Cisneros, 2003).

The biggest difference between a dress rehearsal and a performance are the audience and the inability to stop in the middle of the performance to make corrections or ask questions. Once the performance begins, there is no turning back (Minden, 2005).


In conclusion, the roles of the dancer in a production are the rarely given prima ballerina absoluta, principal, soloist and corps de ballet (Speck & Cisneros, 2003). The rehearsals involve the dancers partaking in practicing combinations, which are created by the choreographer (Clarke & Crisp, 1976). Although when a production that has existing choreography is put on, the choreography is taught as it originally was in past productions. The choreographer or ballet master or mistress simply repeats the existing choreography to the dancers (Minden, 2005).

Finally, during rehearsals there are preparations off the stage and onstage. Off the stage rehearsals are more likely practiced in the classroom with the purpose of memorizing the choreography. Rehearsals onstage are made so that dancers can get used to the feel of the stage and other faculty can prepare for ensuring the dancers safety as well as working out any last minute problems. The last rehearsal is the dress rehearsal in which all of dancers of the production are in full costume (Minden, 2005).

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