You know you trained Balanchine if…


Have you ever gone to an audition, and you are sizing up the competition before the class begins? It doesn’t even have to be an audition, it can just be an open class. As you look around, you start to size dancers up by “look”. Instantly, you can spot those dancers. Balanchine trained dancers. Even before barre starts, even before the first piano chord is played and you take your first plié, you can tell… You can spot Balanchine boys pretty easily: the white socks and white ballet shoes on black tights with a white shirt. You can usually spot Balanchine girls by their high buns, or the Balanchine bun (it is like a hybrid bun/ french twist). Once the music starts, then you can really tell who trained Balanchine, here are some of the “giveaways”…  and if you trained Balanchine, you might get a giggle…

So, you know you trained Balanchine if… 


1. Your hands are remotely “claw” shaped. This could be the modified CPYB hand, or the hands that come from Ballet Austin (kind of a more contemporary relaxed version). You know you came from SAB if you are really all about the “claw” and broken wrist. Yup, just by the hands you can tell.

2. Your tendus are over crossed and you automatically assume the accent is in or down.

3. You don’t use elaborate port de bras during barre combinations.  During port de bras and cambré you roll through your spine instead of a straight back.

4. Your developpés happen in one count, or less, but this idea can be applied to grand pliés, or anything for that matter.

5. When coming out of a relevé you emphasize the pressing of  the heels down.

So, that was just barre… Center (Centre)

You know you trained Balanchine if…


1. The obvious… Pirouette off of a straight back leg, and for fun you try to turn from a ridiculously large, deep, exaggerated fourth.

2. You are awesome at petite allegro.

3. In assemblé you bring the supporting leg to the working leg, and in jetés your coupe happens instantly- and you might bend a little for show…

4. In your saut de chat.. your back leg is probably higher than your front. During grand allegro you probably travel the furthest…

5. You over cross everything… including port de bras.

6. You know you came from SAB if you have Suki Schorer’s voice in your head saying, “no, AND one.”


(And as a side comment: Balanchine dancers are my favorite to watch, and I think the Balanchine Aesthetic… since that is what it is now being called instead of technique… is gorgeous. Insert European remarks here…)



9 responses to “You know you trained Balanchine if…”

  1. love this. makes it all so simple and clear. i trained in that style and then through working with forsythe for so long was able to approach it with more ease and less stress on the body. as well as pushing things really far. when you say ridiculously large. ( why is it ridiculous) there is a wonderful line in suzanne far ells autobiography . where she said Balanchine said to her. make the forth bigger , and bigger and bigger till she said. I was almost in a split. and i went up and did three pirouettes and they were not the most beautiful but was then that she realized her and Mr B would EXPERIMENT with what ballet could do. AND IT ALL TOOK OFF FROM THERE. i am sad to see that new york city ballet has stayed stuck though in not developing anything new.

  2. I don’t know a whole lot about the Balanchine Aesthetic, though I’m trying to figure it out. Balanchine dancers get trained to dance faster, right? There is something to say about that. But the claw hands, what is the excuse for the claw hands?

  3. My teacher, Catherine Tully (4dancers) has the lovely hands and when done right, do NOT look claw like and are very beautiful!