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Dancing is just discovery, discovery, discovery – learning beyond the ballet studio

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

The summer holidays can feel very long, especially without any ballet classes. If you are missing your normal dancing sessions, why not aim to spend some time discovering something new about the art form you love?

Martha Graham said: “Dancing is just discovery, discovery, discovery” and I agree!

Whether you are working to improve your own dancing by getting advice, ideas and encouragement from other teachers and students; seeing professional works at the theatre; or reading up on fascinating facts about dancing and the body – the learning process never really ends.

A complete dance education definitely requires more than a narrow focus on perfecting technique. After all, as Martha Graham also said: "Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion". Indeed, being curious about, and devoted to, all things dance will improve our understanding of, and affection for, dance.

So, Ballet Papier fans, we ought to challenge ourselves to learn more about every aspect of dance!

You could delve into dance history; examine terminology; learn about anatomy; investigate professional dancers, choreographers, musicians and works of note; or pursue personal research interests.

Using your time outside of the studio to further your subject knowledge in an alternative manner may be the best thing you can do to nurture your love of dancing.

Exploring the history of dance can really open your eyes to how far dancers, choreographers and audiences have come. Not to mention excite and inspire you for all the future transformations that dance has yet to undergo!

Dance may be a form of communication which conveys what words cannot but we do use words to classify, select, discuss and review movement. Hence, knowing the terminology is essential – and finding out what all those ballet words mean can also be good fun.

Whether moving to music in the ballet studio or simply being active in everyday life, we all appreciate our bodies for what they enable us to do.

Understanding how your body works when you are dancing will be useful for your own dancing. It will give you the knowledge needed to make sure you are dancing safely, staying healthy and able to minimise the risk of injury – and recover from injuries faster. It also means that you will have even more appreciation for prima ballerinas and other professional dancers who make every movement look easy.

Watching performances is surely the most enjoyable aspect of furthering your dance education outside the studio! Spend some time watching videos of different companies online and see if you can get to your local theatre or cinema whenever there are dance shows on.

The most important thing to remember is that learning should be personal. Find out what matters to you and how you can best use your newfound knowledge.

You might like to write about your discoveries, draw pictures to help you remember information, or respond creatively in some other way (perhaps a danced "reply" or tribute to a dance work in an established choreographer's style?).

If you make an effort to learn something new about an aspect of dance, you will be surprised at how much this extra insight can fuel your passion, focus your mind and even inspire you to work smarter when you are dancing yourself!

As I am a writer and a dance educator, I have created an assortment of dance resources (available under ‘Dance Pedagogy’ on I hope these may prove useful as tools for learning and also encourage Ballet Papier fans to get researching themselves.

Please do let Team Ballet Papier know how you like to learn about dance beyond the studio and share your discoveries with us!

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