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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Lawyers and scientists in ballet

Guest Anders

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Guest Anders

Referring to Mr Robin's remark on another thread on the abundance of lawyers and scientists on Ballet Talk, I agree that the physical release as opposed to mental exertion at work may be one reason for the apparent over-representation of lawyers and scientists in exercise. But it doesn't explain why ballet? Here's a theory:


Lawyers and scientists are in their work accustomed to applying strictly defined rules, and the movements of our professional minds are so to speak restricted to certain clearly delineated areas. It is then no surprise, that once we decide we need exercise, we look for the form of exercise which has the most rigorous and elaborate set of rules and discipline. We just don't feel comfortable without a code to crack. Something about the methodology of learning ballet.


Darn, since I'm not writing about law I feel I'm not really getting my full meaning across (outside my boundary). Can I dance this post instead?

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To me, in a way, ballet is beauty the same way as mathematics is beauty. The abstract, strict, basic, formal, made to something completely above the mundane through excercise of rigorous training and genious creativity.


I cannot very well put it into words, either.

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Glad this made it onto its own thread, but still haven't got time to think about it properly! Ballet does seems to represent a very unusual crossover between the worlds of art and science, though, which is kinda interesting. Perhaps ballet can even be considered more of a science than an art...

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Or, to turn it the other way round... in a way, on its highest levels, mathematics is more art than it is science. The same holds with computer science, and programming.

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Guest beckster

My mum and dad both go sailing at weekends. They apply totally different principles to it. My mum just wants to get out there and have a go, whereas my dad has relgiously applied himself to learning the name of every rope and cleat. Last time I was home we were talking about the way people approach things, and it really does seem that some people like to learn the rules and some people just want to go for it. I guess ballet suits both types of people - what is grande allegro for if not to just let yourself go. And there are people like me, who don't just learn the step but also learn the ballet word, the english word, and want to know how and why each step is what it is. So maybe ballet has enough rules for the people who like rules and enough expression for people who don't! I'd guess that a lot of scientists and lawyers would fall into the former category, but there are probably loads of adults who fall into the latter as well!

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I probably fall into the latter category. I used to be a scientist (Maths, Physics and Chemistry A-Levels!!!) Now I don't do anything where there is a right or wrong answer. Perhaps I do ballet because paradoxically, there is always a right way of doing something, but there are a lot of different ways of getting it right.


Does that make sense?


I do like 'the rules' you have to follow in ballet. It's a peculiar kind of discipline which affects me in other areas of my life. It's all about striving for perfection because it's the right thing to do. But it isn't a stressful thing, which you might imagine it to be. Perhaps it is because we are 'serious recreational dancers' rather than professionals. Ballet is our life, but our livelihoods don't depend on it.


Was that just a ramble or have I made any sense at all?


:confused: ;)

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I would be interested in hearing from Estelle on Mathematics and ballet.


A few quotes about mathematics and beauty:


"Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty -- a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show. The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than Man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry." -- BERTRAND RUSSELL, Study of Mathematics


< http://www.guardian.co.uk/saturday_review/...,639232,00.html >: "The concept of beauty was especially important to Einstein. According to his son Hans, "He had a character more like that of an artist than of a scientist as we usually think of them. For instance, the highest praise for a good theory was not that it was correct or exact, but that it was beautiful." He once went so far as to say that "the only physical theories that we are willing to accept are the beautiful ones", taking it for granted that a good theory must agree with experiment."


"Toward the end of his [Dirac's] talk he addressed our graduate students and advised them to be concerned only with the beauty of their equations, not with what the equations mean." -- Steven Weinberg, _Dreams of a Final Theory_. Weinberg also discusses "beautiful theories" in the book.


< http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Q...ions/Dirac.html > Some very interesting quotations about mathematics, physics and beauty; highly recommended.




I am not at all surprised by the number of scientists and mathematicians interested in ballet, but I am a bit taken aback by all the lawyers.

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I started ballet at the age of 5 when I had no idea that I wanted ot be a scientist. I also took ice skating as well and carried on doing both of them until I was 11, at which point I dropped the ice skating and continued with ballet. it wasn't until I was 12/13 that I realised I wanted to be a scientist, but by the then ballet was already a part of my life.

I took up science because (boy this is going to sound pretentious) I found art subjects such as Art, English and Humanities very easy, (my science grades were dreadful at school C's compared to A's for art subjects) but I wanted more of a challenge. I also reasoned that if I took science I could always go back into art, whereas if I took art, I couldn't easily go back into science. So I took the hard option and sometimes wished I hadn't. But now I get the best of both worlds. Being good at art helps immensely in my presentation and in oral presentations.


Also, with regards to why scientists/lawyers end up in ballet, I guess that the majority of the time it depends on how you were brought up by your parents. Whether they encouraged exposure to the arts and science at an early age or if your school encouraged it. From working with quite a few schools, the main 3 career paths were undoubtedly Law, Medicine/Science and Engineering (in the UK). Unless you were exceptionally talented ballet/dance/drama wise in which case you then went to a performing arts school or a ballet school.

When I speak to any child of career choosing age, most would opt for either of those 3 areas.

50 +years ago, this was probably not the case with regards to the ladies. But of course now more women are entering these fields..we still lack a lot in the physics/chemistry areas but its getting better.

I think also you would find that there are lots of lawyers, scientists, physicians and engineers who play musical instruments, ballroom dance and fly planes. Perhaps not all at the same time ;).



Then -dare i bring it up- there is the money issue. Being a professional doesn't necessarily mean you get paid loads of money, but you do get paid more than say a shop assistant would (although being there's not much difference if you are a student). Hence, there would in general be more of professionals in ballet classes,than non-professionals.

Of course, these are only my opinions, they do not mean that it is so, and yes there are loads of exceptions..and no I do not care what profession some one is and I do not define a person by what they do for a living, only by how they act towards me and others.


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Guest stpltly

Well, I'm glad I'm not alone! I am a nutritionist (I will take the exam to become a Registered Dietitian in the next couple months, so until then I'm a nutritionist ;) ). You should see the looks I get when I tell people that my professional interests are in critical/intensive care AND educating ballet dancers on nutrition. I need the challenge of working with the critically ill, but my love for the art of ballet extends into wanting to help others perfect their art by having healthy bodies. :)

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Guest cygnet2

Well all I can say is that this discussion is very interesting! I obviously missed the start of it, but I am not at all surprised that alot of adult ballet students are lawyers / scientists etc. Basically intelligent and educated people, who presumably like a challenge! As a professional musician (classical), I can say that music is both mathematical (e.g. the music of J.S.Bach) but is also most certainly an art form at the same time. So why not ballet too? When I take class, I am stimulated by this juxtaposition of the technical and artistic. And of course the musical side is very straightforward for me! There are lots of scientific people who play music for pleasure and often the most intelligent, say a doctor, will go off in his or her spare time and play one of the allegedly most difficult instruments like the french horn very well indeed!


Just another thought - quite a few years ago now I taught an adult my instrument privately for a while. He was a brain surgeon who worryingly told me that his job was more art than science!!!! So maybe arts and science are not so very far apart...

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Guest podiumstar

Fascinating topic! So many things to consider. One thing that hasn't been mentioned though: we are discussing the number of science & law professionals represented on this forum and I think that perhaps access to computers and the Internet and savvy with the technology should be taken into consideration. A large part of my professional background has been in systems training and I am aware that there are still huge numbers of people struggling with basic computer skills in the working world. Most recently I have been working with pharmaceutical sales representatives - a very professional, ambitious national team (about 180 reps). I noticed that those who considered the "people" and relationship-building side of their role to be where their strengths lay, often (but not always) considered themselves technically inept with PCs and were not interested in learning to use the technolgy. So, if any of these - often degreed in science - people are doing recreational ballet, they won't be posting on this forum as they are not really sure what a search engine is and they certainly don't know how to bookmark or save a page as a favourite!!! The people that work in our warehousing division also have limited PC skills apart from the managers; they can't locate HR forms on our intranet, for example. Again, if they are taking ballet, we won't hear about it here!!

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Guest serenade

Hi everyone!


Just another science person who is fascinated by this thread. The science person in me loves disecting the patterns in combinations, analyzing the movements, finding the most efficient ways to move, etc. These thoughts have given me the ability to try a step different ways and find new ways to explain them when I am teaching. The artist in me loves moving to music and expressing my feeling through motion.


I have the tendency to focus on my technique so much that I get very tense in class and forget to actually dance. I recall a couple teachers even saying so! I have set a new challenge for myself move to the music and not focus on every little "rule" I know I'm supposed to be following. Believe me, it's not easy. I'm sure everyone understands how our brain can get in the way of our dancing!


But for those of us who cannot resist the "science" part of dancing, I thought I might suggest a couple of books that have helped me...


The first is called INSIDE BALLET TECHNIQUE by Valerie Grieg. To quote from the back of the book..."IBT introduces the reader to the natural anatomical laws governing human movement and body mechanics, and relates them directly to the dancer's acquisition of techinique in the daily ballet class."


The other is called THE PHYSICS OF DANCE by Kenneth Laws. This one was written by a physicist with professional dance background. It may be out of print, but if you can find it, it's worth reading. (XENA- there's a great section on arabesque turns in this one!)


Both of these books are very detailed but worth the read!

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  • 4 weeks later...

An interesting theory - especially as I'm studying Law! As I got older and danced more and more seriously, I pulled away from the rigours of classical ballet and moved into contemporary, with dashes of classical dance in the mix. Maybe it was to free myself from the constraints of exams and responsibility that were also in my life at that time or maybe I do have that liberated approach to my Law studies as well...you'd have to ask my tutors!

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Guest BBNButterscotch

I have to agree that the rigid structure of ballet makes it more appealing to me than other forms of dance. I like knowing that there is a proper way to do things, and working to do them just so... then again, I am biological psychology major (yes I changed back...) so I do have a somewhat scientific mind.

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