The Physics of Balet

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When you think of ballet dancing and ballet dancers you think of grace and beauty. While you watch a dancer dance you never think of the physics and mathematics behind their every move. Physics is described as a thing that is all about measurement, and that if you know the units of measurement that physics uses and how they work you will understand everything else you’ll learn about (Dennis and Moring 1). The textbook definition of physics is “the study of matter and energy and their relationships” (Zitzewitz 1). Ballet cannot be defined as one specific thing. Ballet is a complicated combination of movements. “Most dance enthusiasts…consider dance to be a purely aesthetic performing art, involving human body movement performed by music.” (Laws 1).

Physics is behind every movement a ballet dancer makes. Intricate mathematical equations explain how every move can be made. Physics deals with acceleration, gravity, force, mass, momentum, inertia, velocity, speed, torque, and axis of rotation (Physics of Dance 222). All of these things about physics are applied to ballet through balance, pirouettes, turns made in the air, and even the size of the dancer.

Balance means “that the body is in stationary equilibrium with no tendency to topple due to the effect of gravity.” (Art of Dance 20). But balance is affected by gravity. In order for balance to occur the net force needs to be zero as well as the torque force. In ballet gravity pulls down the dancer and the floor pushes up its own equal force to maintain balance (Gollin). “…An object is [balanced] if its center of [gravity] lies above its base” (Zitzewitz 825). A dancer needs to find his or her center of gravity to achieve balance. Finding your center of gravity while on your toes and while doing multiple body movements is very difficult which is why many dancers loose their balance. “You are [balanced] when you stand flat on your feet. When you stand on tiptoes, however, your center of [gravity] moves forward...
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