I feel very strongly about the importance of character class, and believe it is an integral part of a dancer’s training and development. Thankfully it is still widely practiced and diligently studied at all major dance institutions in Australia and worldwide.  I have particularly fond memories of my own character training at the Australian Ballet School with Christine Howard, who still heads the character/folkloric department today!

“Many times in a classical ballet performance, some movements seem not to belong to classical ballet, those are Character movements.” Yelena Sherstnieva (Vaganova Ballet Academy)

There are many examples of character dances within full length ballets, not to mention adaptations of character dances for ballet which include the national dances of Hungary, Russia, Poland, Italy and Spain; csárdás, mazurka, tarantella, flamenco, etc.

Some of the obvious benefits of character dance training are the variety of different musical rhythms and syncopations, flexibility and strength, stamina development, the use of the torso and strong use of épaulement.

In my professional career, I was able to utilise my character training in many full length ballets including;

  • Paquita
  • Don Quixote
  • Swan Lake
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • The Merry Widow
  • Raymonda
  • Coppélia, and
  • La Sylphide

Diversification is the key to all dancers, particularly since attaining employment is quite challenging. Character class is a fun way to improve your classical technique by extending your repertoire of movement through a range of dynamics.

Written by;  Vicki Attard

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