This week I went to the ballet with my mum. It’s something I did when I was younger and was the one hobby over the years, other than surfing, that i was passionate about. I was also pretty good; my dance teacher even told me that I was good enough to audition for the UK Royal Ballet School. Sadly, I gave it up…probably because I didn’t consider it cool enough when I reached my teens. Despite giving it up, I still love to watch live performances and am in awe of the combined grace and strength that these dancers have.
Whilst watching the performance, it struck me how ballet is a lot like surfing:
- Both demand balance, flexibility, strength and agility
- Professional ballerinas and surfers are athletes and demand a lot from their bodies
- There are different styles in both activities – in surfing (longboarding, shortboarding, bodysurfing), in ballet (classical, contemporary and neoclassical)
- Surfing and ballet are performances and both have a stage
- Surfing has been described as like dancing on a wave
- Some of the surfing manoeuvres have been compared to ballet – a grand jete vs an aerial
- Both require rhythm – rhythm of the wave (in surfing) and the rhythm of music (in ballet)
- Both require precision footwork, particularly longboarding when cross-stepping, hanging five and hanging ten
I wondered how others had considered the similarities and whilst checking stuff out for this post, I came across a really cool video called ‘Water Dancer’ featuring five-time ASP world champion surfer Stephanie Gilmore. Steph talks to Principal Ballerina Tiler Peck about the similarities between ballet and surfing, and how ballet relates to her passion for surfing. If you have got 5 minutes and are interested, check it out!
Over the past few months, I have been thinking about which way to go with my surfing – shortboarding or longboarding. I loved the idea of shortboarding and coming down in board size but I had so much fun on that 9ft longboard during my last surf. I love the style, grace and agility of longboarding which reminds me so much of ballet – the thought of being able to cross step and hang five and ten is amazing, and I think fits in more naturally with my ability, personality and style.
I wonder how much better I would be at surfing now if I had kept up with the ballet? I would certainly have more flexibility and strength which could spell a decent pop-up. I have heard of yoga for surfers but what about ballet for surfers? Maybe its time to dig out my New York City Ballet DVD! Firstly though, I need to get this shoulder sorted out!