Classical Walking

Ballet Term Definition

A classical walk or walking classically describes the way a ballet dancer may walk in a ballet.  Walking that is done “classically” is often done to show nobility or to look regal.  A classical walk is always, or should, be done by a ballerina and her partner in principal roles as they move around stage.  However, especially in a classical ballet, every role on stage is expected to walk in a classical manner(unless you are in a character role).

What does a Classical Walk look like

When a dancer walks classically, they are walking by rolling through their foot starting with the toe, into the ball of the foot, then finally the heel.  This movement with the foot is done very smoothly.  Also, the dancer must keep their legs and feet turned out the whole time.  So as they place their foot in front stretched and pointed, it looks like they are in a tendu.  As they roll through the foot, the heel slides forward almost like a fourth position. As the heel reaches the floor, the weight is moved forward onto the front foot, allowing the back leg to bend slightly.  As smooth as someone would walk normally, the back leg is brought forward with a small développé and placed smoothly into a tendu.  Again, the walking should look seamless.

Keep in mind, while walking classically does mean the dancer must maintain their turnout, its not necessary to have “perfect, 180 degree” turnout.  Trying to 180 degree turnout as you walk is very difficult and would look quite odd on a majority of dancers.

Given the difficulty of some advanced steps in classical ballet, it is easy to think that simply walking would be a basic and easy thing to do.  The truth is quite the opposite.  A lot of time needs to be dedicated to walking correctly to actually look good doing it. The same goes for running in classical ballet.  Imagine this: you’ve been walking or running your whole life without much thought.  Now, you suddenly have to do it using an unnatural technique and every moment of that walk is being watched carefully by a coach, choreographer or teacher.

 

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