Type of Resources

Dissertation/Thesis

Date Created

12-2020

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to explore how recent advancements in technology and medical science have or have not pushed ballet pedagogy to evolve. Also examined were the principles of classical ballet that continue to be included despite current knowledge that these practices are outdated and may be unsafe. The 180-degree turn-out, dancing en pointe, and the grand plié were the specific areas of interest for this study. The following essential questions guided the research: Q1 What impact have advancements in anatomy and physiology had on ballet and ballet training? Q2 What are the origins of ballet principles such as 180-degree turn-out? Q3 What strategies have been most successful in training ballet dancers with non-ideal anatomy? Q4 Why have ballet educators resisted change to the ballet aesthetic and traditional forms of instruction? The research instruments used were an electronic survey of thirty questions, and followup interviews guided by sixteen open-ended questions. The participants of this study were former and current ballet teachers who were asked to share their experiences, beliefs, and practices both as ballet students, and as ballet educators. The limitations to the study included the small participant sample size, the online educator survey, and the participant demographics. There were thirteen participants in the study. Though the researcher intended for the primary research instrument to be unbiased, the online educator survey was not tested for validity or reliability. Due to the small participant sample size, many of the participants taught in overlapping years and shared common backgrounds which created a lack of diversity in their demographics. The outcome of this research suggested that ballet teachers are now more cognizant of their students’ mental health and well-being, and have begun the elimination of certain training exercises and stretches that are now considered outdated and potentially harmful, based on newer understandings drawn from research in the fields of science, medicine, and technology. This study implied the principles of classical ballet, including the 180-degree turn-out, dancing en pointe, the grand plié, and the adherence to strict ballet class etiquette, are still actively practiced and expected of all ballet dancers. Anecdotal evidence from participants suggested that ballet pedagogy has not evolved at the same rate as changes in the other artforms, nor does it reflect the increasingly socially-aware society in which it resides. It appeared adaptations to content or teaching methods, in an effort to accommodate differences amongst students, was done on an individual, case-by-case basis, and was not necessarily adopted into ballet pedagogy for the benefit of all students.

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