Thoughts on Hyper-mobility and Extreme Flexibility in Ballet

There has been a lot of discussion in our industry about Hyper-mobility/hyper-flexibility in ballet: Great? Good? Bad? Indifferent? For me, it comes down to what we are trying to do, and why we are doing it. These only are my OPINIONS… They aren’t right or wrong…they are opinions.

For me, ballet is an ART FORM. We study, train and work relentlessly to develop our bodies into an instrument that will serve the choreographer’s ARTISTIC
vision. In ballet, just as in athletics, as we continue to train over the years, dancers (and athletes) develop the skills and abilities to do MORE. MORE pirouettes, HIGHER extensions, SPECTACULAR leaps…and every year a dancer shows up who can do just a little bit more than what came before. If a choreographer’s vision includes these extreme hyper-mobile positions; if the choreographer is using these positions to say something, to communicate a feeling, to set a mood, or to make a dramatic point…then these hyper-mobile/flexible positions are essential. In fact, when used correctly, in an intelligent way, they can be incredibly exciting. However, 19th century and early 20th century choreographers, for the most part, did not have dancers who could achieve these positions, so they didn’t choreograph for them. Imposing these positions onto choreography that wasn’t set on a body that could achieve these positions, in my OPINION, interferes with the choreographer’s intentions. What we end up with is a break in the choreographic vision; as if the dancer stops and says: “Look what I can do”. It becomes a display of technical prowess. And, in a tutu, in the middle of Swan Lake, it simply looks ridiculous.

So…if a contemporary ballet choreographer is using these hyper-mobile positions for a reason-I’m all for it. And we need to train dancers to be able to do it, because during their careers they will encounter choreographers who demand it. But imposing these positions on choreography that doesn’t call for them…is just, in my OPINION, bad taste.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Hyper-mobility and Extreme Flexibility in Ballet

  1. Agree, the hyper-flexibility seems like a dangerous precedent for dancers to pursue. It scares me for the future of those young tender backs and hips! How much is enough, when it goes from a beautiful line to a grotesque position. There is no artistry in that,

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