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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Quotes: Dancer's words that inspired

Guest Paquita

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Guest Paquita

Hi, It's me again and i was wondering what quotes have inspired you to keep on going ? They can be from dancers are anyone else.From interviews, books, if anyone has Tributes I'd like to heard about some quotes or poems from it wink.gif and things. To start here are some of my favorites:

~"It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday, is the hope of today, and the reality of tomorrow."

~''many other women have kicked higher, balanced longer, or turned faster. These are poor substitutes for passion." Agnes De Mille.

~"Dance every performance as if it were your last." Erik Bruhn.

~"I don't want people who want to dance, I want people who have to dance." Balanchine.

~"To succeed you need something to hold on to, to motivate you, to inspire you."

~"A dancer has to reach through the difficult to achieve the beautiful."

and "A great dancer must strive for a perfection which is always out of reach."

The Children of Theatre Street ( video).

~"Ballet of motion. Refined and defined by long standing tradition, constrained by the laws of position and gravity, it is the art of making the impossible action seem possible." from LIFE magazine.

~"My art feeds me...the more you're invloved in something, the more you fall in love with it, the harder it is to let go because nothing compares with the passion." Evelyn Hart.

~"I realize that most of the dancers I admire:....don't have perfect bodies either; it's by their extraordinary talent and passion that they transcend those thousands of perfectly shaped dancers who somehow can never sieze your attention on stage."


"I've learned that a number of choreographers get their best results by challenging dancers to give something they didn't even know they had."

Karen Kain in "Movement Never Lies."


~ALL dance, and most particularly ballet, depends upon illusion for its

magic. Behind the ease, glamour and bravura that we see on stage are years

of muscular training, the expertise of theatrical stage craft, the

choreographer's creation of a dance from elements as elusive as steps,

bodies, space and time. Ballet, the most corporeal of arts, is built upon

the human body's ability to surpass its Earthly limitations."


~"...I believe the most important attribute for the making of a dancer is the desire to become one. The obvious necessities of physique become less important if the heart, intelligence and musicality are present." Celia Franca I think.


~"No artist is ahead of time. He is time; it's just that others are behind the times" .-Martha Graham


~"life isn't about what happens to you,

it's about what you make happen."


~"The Dancer believes that his art has something to say which cannot be

expressed in words or in any other way than by dancing... there are times

when the simple dignity of movement can fulfill the function of a volume of

words. There are movements which impinge upon the nerves with a strength

that is incomparable, for movement has power to stir the senses and

emotions, unique in itself. This is the dancer's justification for being,

and his reason for searching further for deeper aspects of his art."


I look forwards to hearing some of your own.


[This message has been edited by Paquita (edited April 19, 1999).]

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Victoria Leigh

Pacquita, these are all wonderful and I thank you for taking the time to post them! I particularly like the Karen Kain quote, "I've learned that a number of choreographers get their best results by challenging dancers to give something they didn't even know they had". I had this experience in working with Tudor, and I learned more from him that made a difference in my career (and in my teaching career later) in a few rehearsals than from almost anyone else ever!

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Great thread, Paquita -- and great quotes. I'll leave this one for dancers to answer.



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I only have two quotes, and I admit, on cold mornings I have to repete them to myself a few times:

1. "Werk, werk, WERK!" (russian accent over the word work just getting progressivly louder) A former teacher (native US) Barbara Driscol used to say this when we got slugish in class, it always works to motivate me.

2. "I just NEED my moring class, as you need your morning coffee." I don't know who said it, but it is sooooo true.


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From a lighting designer's perspective:


"The art of lighting the stage consists of putting light where you want it and taking it away from where you don't want it," -- Max Reinhardt.


"The reason great art endures is because it's not edible," -- David Hays.


"Dancers live in light the way fish live in water," -- Jean Rosenthal


"It is better to have pizza you don't want than to want pizza you don't have," -- Jeffrey E. Salzberg

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  • 4 years later...

this is an old thread- sorry to drag it back up, but i was wondering if anyone knew the wording to a quote that basically says, "if i miss a day of class i can tell, if i miss two days my friends can tell, and if i miss a week anyone can tell." Sorry this is kind of a random question, but does anyone remember the way it's supposed to go? thanks!

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I was taught that it went "If you miss one class, you know it; if you miss two classes, your teacher knows it, and if you miss three classes, the audience knows it." I don't know who said it tho, although I think my teacher attributed it to Makarova.

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I first heard it said by Melissa Hayden; when I met her I asked her about it, and she said she cribbed it from Danilova. Then I met Danilova and asked her about it, she said she heard it from Kschessinskaya. Tillie was out of my reach, so that's about as far as it went.

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My teacher heard it from Volkova, who said she had heard it from Kschessinskaya.

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My new ballet teacher almost always wears this t-shirt with the words:


'Work like you dont need the money

Love like you've never been hurt

Dance like no-one is watching'


printed on it. I really like to rread that while I dance; it sort of says 'yes' to life, if you see what i mean -very positive.

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I can't believe I didn't think of this one sooner:


"Talent is work."

--Galina Ulanova


One of my favorites.

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Some of my favorites:

" Technique-bodily control-must be mastered only because the body must not stand in the way of the soul's expression."

-- La Meri


" The dancer will never cut her rehearsals, but clamour for more, and when she is not dancing, she watches others, in acute discomfort, for she will make every movement inwardly and suffer with every fault."

-- Arnold Haskell


" Slippery stages were the terror of my life."

-- Gene Kelly


The last one is just so true for all dancers.

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Victoria Leigh

Said to me by one of my teachers before I left to start dancing professionally:


"Learn everything. Be ready!" He meant to learn every place in the ballets that I could, and every role, and be ready to go on. I did that. It worked :)

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  • 3 months later...


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