Monday, January 14, 2013

Figure Skating Versus Ballet

When I returned from visiting my great grandma in Canada for the last time, I was four years old.  During that year I began to take numerous activities:  Kindermusic, ballet, tap/jazz, figure skating, and Irish dancing.  I loved taking all of these enrichment classes, but eventually I had to quit some activities because of how busy I was becoming.  One of the activities I quit was Irish dancing, but I kept on taking figure skating and ballet.  When I was eight, I had to choose between keeping ballet, or figure skating.  It is extremely hard to do both of these activities, once it starts to get serious and competitive.  Both ballet and figure skating take up the majority of your time, and require a lot of energy and devotion.  It was pretty impossible for me to continue both.  I ended up choosing to keep ballet.  That was a big mistake.  And that is what I am going to talk about in this post - the differences between ballet and figure skating.

Traditionally, ballet requires a tall, willowy, and graceful body structure.  I'm not saying there can be no good ballet dancers who don't fit this description, but I am saying it helps a lot if you do fit this description.  It is also true that this body type is more suited for ballet.  I am not the tall skinny type.  I am just below average height and slightly stockier than what a typical ballerina should be.  I also have slightly thicker ankles than what would be considered good for ballet.  If your ankles are thin or delicate, ice skating is probably not for you.  In other words, I am far more adapted for figure skating than for ballet.  I was also far more natural at figure skating.  It seemed to click for me.  I enjoyed practicing and I practiced nearly every day.  I loved to skate.  I enjoy dancing as well, but I'm not quite as suited for it.  It's not as natural for me as skiing or ice skating is.  I suppose winter sports are more my sort of thing.  I think I will always regret quitting figure skating when I was eight.  I know that if I had continued it, I would have been pretty good (I realize I'm sounding very boastful right now, but I don't want to have fake modesty either.  If I think I would have been a great figure skater I might as well say it. :P).  Ballet, on the other hand, was much more complicated for me.  I began to improve my dancing skills more and more, but for some reason, when I reached the fifth level of ballet, I began to go backwards instead of forwards in terms of progress.  That was when I remember it began to get pretty competitive.  I think I couldn't handle the psychological intensity that came with the competition, especially since I can be a very self-conscious person.  Figure Skating is also a competitive activity, but I felt more confident with figure skating than I felt with ballet.  So after ten years of ballet and two and a half years of pointe shoe classes, I quit ballet as well.  In some ways I miss ballet.  I miss dancing; I like to dance.  But in other ways, I'm glad I'm not doing it any more.  I tried out skiing during the Holiday break two years ago, when I went to Quebec.  I got the hang of it in four days, and it was really fun.  I love the feeling of freedom when I'm skiing quickly down a steep slope.  I plan on skiing again next year in Quebec.  I feel that in a way, skiing has replaced ballet for me.

However, just because I didn't have the best experience with ballet at times, doesn't mean I don't still love it.  I love classical ballet.  I think it's a beautiful dance form that, to quote myself, possesses the talent of story telling.  Here is the Odile solo from Swan Lake, a classical ballet I often went to see when I was little.

Below is a figure skating duet.  As you can see, ballet and figure skating could be seen as similar in some ways, but are very different in many other ways.  They have different movements and a pretty different style altogether.  Some movements may seem similar at first, but they are executed very differently.  For example, ice skaters do not turn out or keep their position the same way a dancer would.  Although, it is of course obvious figure skating would differ from dance, since it is a performance art form that takes place on ice rather than on a stage or the wooden floor of a dance studio. 

I really like this duet.  I think they're excellent skaters.  Their movements are very well executed and very graceful.

I really like this duet, as well.  I think I may like it even more than the previous one.

I prefer the Russian style of figure skating to other styles, because they often cross-train in ballet and think of ice skating as an art form rather than just a sport.


  1. I have a friend who did figure skating. She was very very short and more of the stocky figure. When was little I did ballet and gymnastics. But when we moved, we moved to a place where it was more expensive and there were other things. I really miss not having been able to do more.

    Dance is something that I think everyone should take one class on some kind of dance.

    1. Figure skaters often have the kind of figure and body structure your friend has. Gymnasts also tend to have that kind of body structure. I think doing that kind of sport has that influence on the person's body. When I did ice skating I became very strong in my arms and legs, and I also slowly became even more stocky than I already naturally was, but when I quit and continued ballet I became slightly less stocky and more ballerina-like (although there is a limit to how much a sport can influence a person's body).

      That's cool that you did ballet and gymnastics when you were little!! :) I considered taking gymnastics but I never ended up doing it. It's true that different places offer different opportunities. Where my mom grew up there weren't really any ballet or figure skating classes around, but she could take piano.

      I definitely agree with you that people should take some sort of dance. Dance helps the dancer to keep in shape. Ballet is especially beneficial, since it can make someone light on their feet and graceful in every day life.

  2. I am choreography a ballet dance, using hip-hop music to portray ballet in a different light (more fun, up-beat etc) as opposed to the stereotypical way in which it is usually perceived but i am struggling to come up with a title.

    ballet classes in orange county

    1. Experimental dance is always interesting. I would like to see a ballet dance with hip hop music. It is a cool and creative change. :) What is the theme of the dance you are choreographing?