This post shares some information that is very close to my heart as a dancer and a dance teacher. To me, these are the Beatitudes of ballet, the fundamental  success principles that will take ANYONE from where they are as a dancer to where they want to be.

They ALL have to do with the BRAIN.

These five points, which I call Mr. Jay’s 5 points because I was taught them by the extraordinary Jay Kim, do not require a perfect ballet body, multiple turns, long legs, or banana feet. They only require the grey matter between your ears. Here they are:

  1. Know the steps in the correct order.
  2. Know the counts for each step
  3. Know the musical accent
  4. Know the coordination of moving body parts, including eyes.
  5. Express artistry

Go ahead and stop here; print these off and hang them in your class room, bed room, or keep them with you in your dance bag. These are all you need to become a great dancer.

If you’d like more discussion and elaboration, feel free to keep reading.

  1. Know the steps: What are you doing? Plie? Tendu? Grand pirouette? In what order? Any dancer at any age can master this, but it is also easy to zone out and rely on your class mates to “learn” the combinations for you. You are the only one who can truly learn.
  2. Know the counts: How many counts for the plie? Do you have a full 8 counts for a promenade or just 4? If you know the grand jete is next but you are a count behind the group you could lose your spacing in the corps or put your partner in danger. Dancers who dance in sync with the group and the music are the most likely to be trusted with smaller group and solo roles.
  3. Know the musical accent. Dance with the music, not just to it. This is one step closer toward point 5, artistry. If the music is sharp, or the choreographer asks for sharp movements, dismiss the “moving through water” metaphor often used to teach fondu combinations. For the most part you should be able to hear the music and match the moment, but especially if you are helping create a new work, make sure you are clear on how the choreographer wants his/her movement interpreted.
  4. Know the coordination: Coordination means two or more things happening at the same time. Think about fouetté, where the leg whips out at the same time as the arms arriving in second, then everything returns to passe pirouette position together, all while the head spot keeps perfect time. The better all of these elements are coordinated, the more successful and effortless this very difficult step will be. But even in simpler movements, your dancing will be more natural and interesting if you coordinate your eyes and hands. Lifting the chin slightly in allonge, controlling fondu so both leg straighten at the same time, and  lowering from releve equally on two feet are all examples of coordination you can start mastering in class today.
  5. Artistry: In my opinion, this is the trickiest one, probably because most days I myself am not quite ready to tackle it. I still have a long way to go in my own technique with the first 4 points. I also think it is not something that can be taught. But it can be learned.  How? First, and always, remember why you dance. The reasons may change, but the day you don’t have a reason you need to rethink your why. Emotional motivation , inner drive, desire to grow as a person, these are all good reasons you can work on expressing in even the simplest movements. Next, watch great dancers.  We are so lucky that at any time we can watch any great dancer in almost any style for almost no cost. Choose the ones who excite you and study them.

These points are all accessible, no matter your body shape weight, or ability. They are almost harder than multiple pirouettes because you MUST use your brain. But that also means taking advantage of them is open to everyone, no matter how little you have danced or how behind you feel in your training.

Thank you for reading! Please comment below with your thoughts on these points or other topics that help make a dancer successful.

Read about the amazing Mr. Jay Kim here;

Now for some updates! Skip these if you already follow us on social media.

Cheval is doing a Facebook and Instagram Give Away! Follow, comment and tag, winners randomly selected and announced May 8th. You can join the give away on both accounts for double the chance to win a beautiful Amethyst Jewel Skirt or Men’s Apollo Dance top.


Cheval Dancewear is also giving away a $300 Pointe Shoe Scholarship to dancers attending the 2018 Ballet West Academy Summer intensive. You can apply here:

Cheval Pointe Shoe Scholarship Application

Please help pass the word along if you know dancers headed to Salt Lake for the summer!

All the best everyone, and happy dancing!

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