Q: What does ballet mean to you – the whole thing? Is there “more” than the control of the body? More than ballet as an artwork?
A: As I never knew exactly if I wanted to become priest or dancer, I want to speak about the mental ability of ballet. Mind, spirit and body make the man a whole thing, corresponding to the three entities art, science and religion. That is how I understood ballet – the pursuit of perfection, very similar to religion … Not the fun, but enjoyment plays the major role (it is the Ode to JOY, “Joy, beautiful spark of the Gods, Daughter of Elysium”, and NOT the Ode to FUN …).
The outward impression must be attitude. More than attitude – it must express composure and spirit. Doing ballet you are training the whole body, every muscle, every joint. What is strengthened, is also stretched. If you do it according to anatomic principles as I always targeted, you cannot do anything better for your health. As grown up you realize where your physical limits are – get through, aim for physical perfection but accept that you cannot reach it and accept that´s just how it is. For children and teenagers there is the very good effect of discipline, of concentration and of good behaviour, and of course the health aspect. The flowing and harmonic movement of ballet aim for many abilities – to coordinate mind and body, becoming positively energized. “A ballet lesson is the best mental hygiene”, said a pupil in a grown up class in Starnberg (Bavaria). I was very proud when I learned that he was one of the leading German psychotherapists.
Q: Once again a question concerning grown up beginners – is there another story?
A: When I ran the ballet studio in Munich (Bavaria), once came a very likable lady, end thirties, very introverted and cripplingly shy. She asked me if there were classes for grown up beginners. She was totally different to the others, not the typical ballet lover, so I asked for the reason why she wanted to make ballet. She answered, “My husband has got a great job and has to represent. He likes very much when I am with him. I know that I cannot make an impression on others, but I want to help him and look good in an expensive dirndl dress to be his pride and joy.” We started working, she was as stiff as a poker, had a disorder in coordination and looked introverted and deplorable. But she could also be fascinating and charismatic and took the training seriously. After one year of work there was not only her beautiful soul, but she had become beautiful. She had achieved a good level as ballet student and liked ballet very much. Mind and soul had always been active, but there was a big lack of harmony in everything. After a while she also achieved the harmony. This was great! She only had big problems with the stretching even if she was very willingly. Another two years … I was doing something at the tape recorder … there was a big rumour in class. “Mister Reinisch! Mister Reinisch! Look!” I turned and couldn´t believe what I saw. Mrs. L. was there and did a perfect split! She had accomplished the training. And she stayed my pupil for many years.
To be continued …