Letter: British ballet: talent is there

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is a rather sweeping generalisation to dismiss the current standards of classical ballet training completely without some greater examination of the issues and problems ('Ballet director attacks teaching', 6 June).

Over the past few years there has been a dramatic increase in the technical demands placed on dancers as there is a greater emphasis on the athleticism, dynamism and physicality of classical ballet. Artistic directors' and choreographers' expectations have increased, and there is an increasingly strong competitive element. However, classical ballet is not purely about athleticism: as an art form, artistry itself is clearly a prerequisite.

The blend between athleticism and artistry is the key to success. Inevitably, an element of personal taste colours any judgement of quality; very few, if any, dancers are unanimously liked by critics and audiences. The inexplicable and the unexpected are all ingredients in a living art form. Impressive physical jerks eventually becomes tedious.

These comments do not absolve training establishments of criticism. The gap between schools/colleges and professional dance companies is widening, and every effort should be made to close it, and to enable young people to make the transition as complete performers. We need the peaks and troughs, we need the good years and bad years. Thankfully, talent cannot be bottled, and there is no magic formula by which it can be created or developed.

Yours faithfully,



The Birmingham Royal Ballet


6 June

(Photograph omitted)