The Mathematics Behind Ballet

When someone mentions the word “ballet,” we often think: creativity, an art form, or a form of dancing. However, I have learned that while ballet heavily uses the right side of the brain (creativity), you still need to use the left side (analytical) just as much.

While you aren’t solving crazy math equations or proving a theorem in your head, a good amount of mathematics is required for ballet. It is a delicate balance between counting the music and seeing which counting style is key for the song you are dancing to. You ask yourself, “Do I need an eight-count or a four-count, or should I do half counts?” while also remembering complicated steps that consist of a certain number of specific movements that are all combined to create an encapsulating piece of art. 

Geometry is found in every movement. Ballet is all about the technique with a foundation of geometric shapes (for example, doing rond de jambe at the ballet bar, where you create semicircles with your leg). And that geometric foundation can be seen most clearly when watching the corps de ballet dance. Dancing in the corps de ballet is all about precision and uniformity. Your angles and lines must be the same as the 10 to 20 other dancers on stage with you to reach perfect uniformity, impressing the audience even with the simplest movements. 

Three ballet dancers in costume posing backstage

Ballet has taught me more than how to think creatively. Ballet has taught me determination, responsibility, accountability, and teamwork.

Performing a whole ballet includes more than just solos; the backbone of the ballet is the corps de ballet. The corps de ballet depends on everyone dancing in sync and relying on one another, which requires teamwork and accountability from every dancer to be able to pull off a beautiful work of art. This has helped me immensely when being on different teams at the Institute. Being a reliable teammate and taking accountability for the portion of the work that I commit to helps not only my team but also helps me learn and grow. 

So, while ballet is an art, there is more than meets the eye when creating and blending the beautiful art form into a masterpiece. Math can be found everywhere, even on the stage. 

Columnist: Amelia Davenport