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alt.arts.ballet FAQ 1: General Information

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Archive-name: dance/ballet-modern-faq/part1
Posting-frequency: bimonthly
Last-modified: Jul. 21, 2004

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Part 1 of seven parts

    Copyright (c) 1995-2004 by Thomas Parsons; all rights reserved.
    This FAQ MAY NOT be posted to any USENET newsgroup, on-line service,
    BBS, or Web page, without the written consent of the author.  This
    FAQ MAY NOT be distributed in part or in full for financial gain.  No
    portion of this FAQ may be included in commercial collections or
    compilations without express permission from the author.

    This FAQ is provided as is without any express or implied warranties.
    While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the infor-
    mation contained in this article, the author assumes no responsibility
    for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the
    information contained herein.


Tom Parsons
Brooklyn, New York


New this release: Revised copyright notice.




    1.1. What is this group?
    1.2. Is there a group for modern dance?
    1.3. What is the difference between alt.arts.ballet and
    1.4. Are there any other ballet/modern groups?
    1.5. How can I access this group?
    1.6. How can I post to this group?
    1.7. Are there any dance pages on the World Wide Web?
    1.8. I'm only a beginner; should I just shut up and listen?


    2.1. What is ballet?
    2.2. What is modern dance?
    2.3. What is a ballet class like?
    2.4. What is a barre?
    2.5. Why do dancers take so many classes?
    2.6. Why do dancers wear such funny shoes?
    2.7. Do women really dance on their toes?  Why?
    2.8. Why don't men dance on pointe?
    2.9. Why do dancers stand with their feet turned out?
    2.10. What is a tutu...and why do they call it that?
    2.11. What are all these "positions?"
    2.12. What is "placement?"
    2.13. Why all that French?
    2.14. If a female dancer is called a ballerina, what is a male dancer
    2.15. What is a "Prima Ballerina Assoluta"?
    2.16. What are: a choreographer, a regisseur, a repetiteur, a ballet
	   master, and an artistic director?
    2.17. What are the most popular ballets?
    2.18. Where can I find books about dance?
    2.19. Where can I find dance-related gifts?
    2.20. Where can I find dance videos?
    2.21. Where can I find dance-related clipart?
    2.22. Where can I find recorded music for ballet?


    3.1. When should I start taking ballet?
    3.2. When should I start taking modern dance?
    3.3. I'm in my early twenties; it it too late for me to start a
	    professional career in ballet?
    3.4. I'm 35 (or 45 or 55 or...) years old.  Is it ridiculous for me
	    to consider ballet classes?
    3.5. I'm thinking of returning to ballet after --- years; how should I
	    start?  Are there videos I can buy?
    3.6. I'm a man.  I feel funny about taking ballet classes.  I mean,
	    isn't little...?
    3.7. Okay, I'm starting ballet.  What equipment do I need?
    3.8. I'm a guy!  Do I *have* to wear tights?
    3.9. Where can I buy dancewear?
    3.10. How can I make a tutu?
    3.11. How do I find/choose a school or teacher?
    3.12. How can I tell if a teacher is good?
    3.13. If the teacher makes me feel good, won't I become overconfident?
    3.14. I live in ----; where can I take classes?
    3.15. I don't know a thing about ballet and I'm trying to select a
	    school for my child.  What should I look for?
    3.16. What is this "Dolly Dinkle" business, anyway?
    3.17. What about studying in a university dance department?
    3.18. Where can I find out about Summer dance programs?
    3.19. I took my first class and I couldn't understand what was going on!
    3.20. I keep getting mixed up!
    3.21. What is "B-plus"?
    3.22. What are the basic movements in dance?
    3.23. How can I learn to raise my leg over my shoulder, the way I see
	    other dancers doing?
    3.24. When can my daughter start toe dancing?
    3.25. I'm an adult beginner.  Am I too old for pointe?
    3.26. I'm 5'7" (or whatever) high.  Am I too tall for ballet?
    3.27. What is a career in dancing like?
    3.28. My daughter's gym classes are interfering with her ballet
	    training.  What can I do to make the school listen?
    3.28. How can I build a proper floor for dancing?
    3.30. How high should a ballet barre be?
    3.31. I'm job hunting.  Any tips for preparing a resume?


    4.1. Who invented ballet?
    4.2. I thought ballet was a Russian art.
    4.3. When was the first ballet?
    4.4. What is the oldest surviving ballet?
    4.5. When was the first ballet school started?
    4.6. How did ballet develop after the founding of that school?
    4.7. Who was Noverre?
    4.8. How did ballet develop in the nineteenth century?
    4.8.1. Who was Carlo Blasis?
    4.8.2. Who was August Bournonville?
    4.8.3. The primacy of the ballerina
    4.8.4. Ballet in Russia
    4.8.5. Who was Didelot?
    4.8.6. Who was Petipa?
    4.9. Dance in the 20th century
    4.9.1. Who was Diaghilev and what did he do?
    4.9.2. Who was Fokine?
    4.9.3. Who was Balanchine?
    4.9.4. The beginnings of modern dance


    5.1. Is there a way of writing down dance, the way we write down music?
    5.2. Is there software for doing choreography?
    5.3. Is there software for my dance studio?
    5.4. What is Contact Improvisation?


    6.1. Books
    6.2. Periodicals

    7.1. General
    7.2. Organizations offering help with eating disorders



1. General information

In a group as young as this one was when this FAQ was first written, we
didn't have enough data to identify "frequently-asked" questions, with a
few exceptions; hence many of the entries were answers to questions that
we might reasonably *expect* to be frequently asked, or at least wondered
about.  I chose to discuss things that I myself had wondered about; things
that, I surmised, beginners and non-dancers must wonder about (since this
group is specifically intended to include them); a few technical points
(well known to dancers but not to spectators); and a fairly extensive
history of ballet from 1489 to the close of the Diaghilev era.  Coverage
has since been expanded in response to requests and suggestions from the
group.  The FAQ ends with some questions that don't fit well into the other
categories, a list of references and periodicals, and a list of dance-
related organizations.

This FAQ is posted bimonthly (on even-numbered months) in alt.arts.ballet,
the Dancers' Archive, and also to, where most FAQs are
available through anonymous FTP.  It is also posted on my web page:
Victor Eijkhout also recommends
which also have the dancewear FAQ (see next paragraph) and Brad Appleton's
FAQ on stretching (see Question 3.20).

This FAQ and several others can also be obtained by e-mail from the
Dancers' Archive.  Email with _one_ of the
following "get" commands in the _subject_ line.  You will get from 1 to 4
emails back, depending on which FAQ you requested.  Here are the commands:

get aab-faq
get dancewear-faq
get rad-faq
get stretch-faq

The word 'get' must be specified as shown above, otherwise the email server
won't know what you want to do.  The word 'faq' can be capitalized, but
the other words (rad, stretch, dancewear, and aab) cannot. 'faq' cannot be
mixed-case.  For this FAQ, request aab-faq; for the dancewear FAQ (next
paragraph), request dancewear-faq.  The other two: rad-faq is the FAQ for and stretch-faq is for Brad Appleton's FAQ on stretching
(see Question 3.20.)

Amy Reusch has assembled a FAQ containing advice for aspiring dancers who
wonder whether they should include college in their plans.  It can be found
in the ballet-modern directory of the Dancers' Archive under the name,


I wish to thank Eliot Aronstern, Lise Brenner, Victor Eijkhout, and Lance
Westergard for reading the first draft and providing valuable comments and
suggestions.  Thanks also to Robert Atwood, Tom Baird, Randy Barron, Marion
Bastien, Eileen Bauer, Michael Bjerknes, Melinda Buckwalter, Laurel F.
Brady, Bonnie Brooks, CarlosC14, the Collier Family (, Mark
Coniglio, Alan Corneretto, Nancy Dalva,, Callum Downie,
William Fitzgerald, Jean Fitzpatrick, Claudia Folts, Eyvonne Gratz, Robinne
Gray, Lisa M. Hahn, Alice T. Hall, Claudia Jeschke, Steve Keeley, Frances
Kemmish, Kathy Kerr, Keith Knox,, Sandi Kurtz, Joel
Levine, Matthew Lewis, Vanessa Marino, Debby McConnell,,
John Moran,, Bob D.  Peterson, Roger Plaut, PriMoDnc
<>, Lori Pryor, Amy Reusch, Rocio C. Barraza Rivacoba,
Jessica Schein, Shannon (, Tim Scholl, Sheila
(, Robert Greskovic, Estelle Souche, CHO Tomoko, Tim
Victor, Victoria (, Jack Walker, Kimberly Wallace, Karen
Ward, Jim Williams, Leigh Witchel, Trog Woolley, Mark Zetler, and many
other contributors to this group whose postings and suggestions (and
corrections) are gradually finding their way into this FAQ.

1.1. What is this group?

	The purpose of alt.arts.ballet is to provide a forum for people
with an interest in ballet and/or the more modern outgrowths of classical

	All questions, comments, information and discussion pertaining
to ballet and/or modern dance are welcome, and ALL members of the ballet/
modern dance community (e.g. dancers, choreographers, fans, students, etc.)
are encouraged to participate.

1.2. Is there a group for modern dance?

	This is it.  Don't be misled by our name; modern-dance people post
here frequently and are welcome here.

1.3. What is the difference between alt.arts.ballet and

	Our group branched off from  Eliot Aronstern
founded alt.arts.ballet, in May, 1994, to provide an on-line locale for
discussion of any and all topics related to ballet and modern dance as a
performing art.  The primary focus in is on discussion of
social and competitive partner dancing, although there remains some degree
of overlap between these two groups.

1.4. Are there any other ballet/modern groups?

	No; this is it.  But there is a ballet chat group on the New York
Times board, accessible though America OnLine.  To access it,

	1)  On the AOL "Main Menu", go to "Entertainment"
	2)  On the right side of the "aol.entertainment" menu, there is
		"the index", scroll down to "New York Times @times" file
		and click on.
	3)   At the "welcome to NY times" menu, click on "Message Boards"
		at the bottom.
	4)  A the "@times message boards" menu, click on "list categories"
		at lower left.
	5)  Scroll down till you see "Music & Dance", and click on it.
	6)  Scroll down and you will find the following categories:
		"Ballet Students"
		"Gone Dancing"
		"Dance Styles, Dance Careers"
		"The Ballet"
		"Singers, Dancers, Musicians"
(This information supplied by

There is also a mailing list, called the Dance Ballet Mailing List.  (The
following information is supplied by Rocio C. Barraza Rivacoba.)  Its
description is as follows:

    Dance Ballet is a general discussion group about classical dance and
    ballet, made up of professional dancers, directors, students,
    instructors, choreographers, dance artists & photographers, studio
    owners and many others.

To subscribe, go to
and fill out the questionnaire.  It's not very demanding (essentially, all
you must do is be interested in dance).

1.5. How can I access this group?

	Direct access to the group is available via news readers at most

	If you are unable to access alt.arts.ballet, please make a request
(to your local net news administrator) to have this group picked up on your
local site, and/or contact Eliot ( directly by e-mail for

	For a mailing-list subscription, e-mail to
from your account; make the body of the message
	subscribe ballet-modern
If you ever want to terminate your subscription, e-mail to the same address
with the body
	unsubscribe ballet-modern
After subscribing, you post messages by sending them to

	Early postings to this group used to be archived in Dancers'
Archive (maintained by Eileen Bauer,, but because of a
lack of disc space, nothing has been archived since February, 1997, and
the files, which run back to the inception of the group, are nearly all
compressed with the gnu zip data-compression utility.  The compressed
files have an extension ".gz" in their names.  To extract these, you must
download them and run the decompression program gunzip on them.  To access
Dancers' Archive, do an anonymous FTP to, use the gopher to
access Dancers' Archive, or, on the Web, use
or use

Two gopher routes to the Archive:  (1) gopher and
wander down the nonprofit menus until you get to Dancers' Archive.  (2)
gopher, select New York Art Line, then Music, Performance
and Dance, and then the Archive.  Some Web pages also include links to the

	Eileen now also offers a daily digest of alt.arts.ballet.  To
subscribe to it, email with with either the
subject or the body containing the line:
	subscribe ballet-modern-digest
You unsubscribe by sending the message,
	unsubscribe ballet-modern-digest
Subscribers will receive one post per day, probably averaging ~50k.  (The
digest is automatically purged of spams, by the way.)  If you are already a
subscriber to the ballet-modern mailing list, this is a separate service
and you will NOT be automatically unsubscribed from the regular list.

1.6. How can I post to this group?

	You can post articles to this group with your newsreader.

	If your provider won't support access to the alt. hierarchy, you
can also post here by e-mail via one of the following addresses:

1.7. Are there any dance pages on the World Wide Web?

	Yes.  Web pages are generally a mixed bag; some pages are just
lists of links to other pages; some are still under construction; and some
are full of information and pictures.  Moreover, Web sites sometimes just
disappear without a trace.  The following entries are pointers to lists of

Dance Index Resources:

   Alt.Arts.Ballet Directory Listings


   Dancers Archive Gopher (where alt.arts.ballet is archived)

   There is a generous selection of dance links (as well as links to almost
   any educational resource you could imagine) on StudyWeb:

   For information about dance and ballet in Mexico, you can visit the
   following links:
    For the Mexican Society of Choreographers:
    Dance e-group (multilingual, mostly Spanish):
    News forum:

1.8. I'm only a beginner; should I just shut up and listen?

	Victor Eijkhout, in the FAQ for, asks this question
and answers it as follows: "No.  Tell stories about your experiences, or
post questions and listen to the--no doubt conflicting--answers you'll
get."  (But read this FAQ first.)

	If you're new to the Net, it's a good idea to look around at
various newsgroups and get a feel for the way things are done.  There are
virtually no rules, but there *are* customs.  On the news.answers group you
will find a number of useful documents for familiarizing yourself with the
Net.  I particularly recommend:-
    A Primer on How to Work With the Usenet Commmunity
    Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Usenet
    Hints on writing style for Usenet
    Rules for posting to Usenet
(I said there were virtually no rules; that last document would be better
named, "Guidelines for posting....")

Continued in Part 2....

--             |  It's easier to apologize afterwards than
                          |   getting something allowed in the first place. |             --Clifford Stoll

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