The Athleticism of Ballet

In ballet, what's the term used to describe a spin on one foot?

And the answer is: pirouette.

Illustration of the physical movements of the pirouette
The physical movements of a pirouette (Shutterstock)

A pirouette is a type of dance turn on one foot. In ballet, the dancer turns a full 360 degrees and often several times in a row. Pirouettes are also found in jazz and modern dance, as well as in gymnastics.

Often cloaked in the grace and poise of their performance, athleticism is a necessary backbone of any successful ballerina. Though ballet is more often considered an art than a sport requiring rigorous training, most often the regiment closely resembles one another. Dancers routinely participate in technique classes during the day, followed by rehearsals in the afternoons and evenings. In addition to form, ballet dancers' artistic and creative ability to communicate the story of a piece is an equally essential aspect of their roles.

Ballet is often so rigorous in its undertaking that many ballerinas' careers are cut short by injury after less than 20 years. Though physical therapy and other preventative measures can help keep dancer's body aligned and safe in rehearsal, oftentimes it takes a single misstep to keep a ballerina offstage.

Fun fact!

Being "en pointe," a position of ballet that requires ballerinas to balance on the tips of their toes atop wooden-tipped pointe shoes, often means that ballerinas' toes take up to 3 times their body weight! The sheer stress usually means that professional ballerinas go through three to five pairs of pointe shoes a week.

Check out the video below to experience the routine of a professional ballerina.


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