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Wilhelm Burmann article


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The Sunday, May 30 Arts and Leisure section of the New York Times had an interesting article about Wilhelm Burmann titled “The drill sergeant of dance, what brings ballet stars to Wilhelm Burmann? Why, brutal, crushing criticism.” Fodder for 100 discussions about the teaching and learning of ballet, but I decided to pick on just one small piece of the story.


In talking about his own development, he says, “ ‘I had no time for any kind of stuff that people teach today, like lying on the floor,’ he said, referring to floor barre technique, in which students work various muscle groups while stretched flat on their backs. ‘I would never have made it! It’s called training. It’s not stroking, it’s not yoga. If you take a ballet class, take a ballet class. Don’t go into therapy.’”


Personally, I like that quote not for what it says literally (I do a little Pilates, floor barre and yoga), but for its general gist. It is a basic principle of all physical development and when applied to ballet it means that essentially you get better at ballet by doing a lot of ballet. I know that sounds so uninteresting and trite, but it really is the only secret there is to development.

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