Ballet Dance Quotes

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We've gathered a small collection of our all-time favorite Ballet dance quotes for you.

And, what's interesting is that, although we know that these quotes are specifically about Ballet, mainly because of who said them, quite a few of them don't actually mention the word Ballet. 

It's just really obvious what they are about when you read them. 

That's probably because Ballet has such lore and legend and mystique about it, and everybody knows just how physically demanding it is, so there's not much explanation needed.

You've never felt pain until you've walked in a dancer's shoes

Naturally, some focus on the pain and suffering of a dancer's life, like "You've never felt pain until you've walked in a dancer's shoes" and that helps to keep up the sense of magic that surrounds it; that only a few extraordinary beings can ever truly call themselves Ballet dancers. 

The ballet toe shoe is one of the few instruments of torture to survive intact into our time

Of course, everyday life is not quite so excruciating as some of these quotes make out, such as "The ballet toe shoe is one of the few instruments of torture to survive in our time".  The Ballet pointe shoe, these days, is made quite comfortable with the additional of some carefully placed padding!  But we don't want to be the ones to reveal the tricks of the trade...

You don't have to know about ballet to enjoy it, all you have to do is look at it

And one of the quotes that we find ourselves, as dance professionals, using frequently, is "You don't have to know about Ballet to enjoy it, all you have to do is look at it".

In our every day work we constantly come across people who stay away from dance, and in particularly Ballet, because they are a little afraid of it; they don't feel that it is 'for them'.  And we use this quote to sum up that there's no special knowledge or experience required in order to enjoy dance at any level as either a participant or a spectator.

I do not try to dance better than anyone else.  I only try to dance better than myself

But perhaps the most telling of all of these quotes is the one from Mikhail Baryshnikov

"I do not try to dance better than anyone else.  I only try to dance better than myself".

You can get a very clear feeling from that of the amount of pressure the top dancers put on themselves, the dedication required to maintain their art and just how seriously they take their craft.

And of course, all due respect must be made to the great man himself, Balanchine, who was able to sum up a great deal of the myth, magic and mundane about Ballet in a way few others could.

Someone once said that dancers work just as hard as policemen, always alert, always tense, but see, policemen don't have to be beautiful at the same time
Dancers are instruments, like a piano the choreographer plays
I don't want people who want to dance, I want people who have to dance

The best ballet and dancing quotations

Martha Graham

  • Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. 
  • Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.
  • Dance is the hidden language of the soul.

George Balanchine

  • I don't want people who want to dance, I want people who have to dance.
  • Someone once said that dancers work just as hard as policemen, always alert, always tense-- but see, policemen don't have to be beautiful at the same time.
  • Dancers are instruments, like a piano the choreographer plays.

Anon /
Source Unknown

  • You've never felt pain until you've walked in a dancer's shoes
  • Anyone who thinks sunshine is happiness has never danced in the rain
  • Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance.
  • The Ballet toe shoe is one of the few instruments of torture to survive intact into our time
  • You can dance anywhere, even if only in your heart
  • Dancing with the feet is one thing, but dancing with the heart is another
  • Dance is a delicate balance between perfection and beauty
  • Socrates learned to dance when he was seventy because he felt that an essential part of himself had been neglected.
  • Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain
  • Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape
  • Fear not mistakes.  We just call them variations

Friedrich Nietzsche

  • We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once
  • And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music
  • I do not know what the spirit of a philosopher could more wish to be than a good dancer.  For the dance is his ideal

Agnes de Mille

  • The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music.  Bodies never lie
  • To dance is to be out of yourself.  Larger, more beautiful, more powerful

Edwin Denby

  • You don't have to know about ballet to enjoy it, all you have to do is look at it.
  • There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good.

Japanese proverb

Hopi Indian saying

Chinese proverb

R.G. Collingwood

Albert Einstein

Alice Abrams

Constanze

Dave Barry

Vicki Baum

Kurt Vonnegut

Mata Hari

John Dryden

Samuel Beckett

Charles Baudelaire

Isadora Duncan

Ted Shawn

We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance

To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak.

One may judge a king by the state of dancing during his reign.

Dance is the mother of all languages.

Dancers are the athletes of God.

In life as in dance: Grace glides on blistered feet.

Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!

Nobody cares if you can't dance well.  Just get up and dance.

There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

The dance is a poem of which each movement is a word.

Dancing is the poetry of the foot.

Dance first.  Think later.  It's the natural order.

Dancing can reveal all the mystery that music conceals.

If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it.

Dance is the only art of which we ourselves are the stuff of which it is made.

W.H. Auden

Dance till the stars come down from the rafters
Dance, Dance, Dance till you drop.

Havelock Ellis

Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is not mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself.

Faith Whittlesey

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels.

Mihkail Baryshnikov

I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.

W B Yeats

O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Please send me your last pair of shoes, worn out with dancing as you mentioned in your letter, so that I might have something to press against my heart.

Mr. Miyagi, The Next Karate Kid, 1994

Never trust spiritual leader who cannot dance.

Mark Twain

Dance like no one is watching.  Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's Heaven on Earth.

Bill Austin

When you take dancing lessons, you learn steps and you learn steps and you learn steps. It can go on for a long time. And then one day, you just learn to dance, and it is so different.

Voltaire

Let us read, and let us dance.  These two amusements will never do any harm to the world.

Let us know your favorite Ballet dance quotes - or indeed quotes about dance in general, using our contact us form.

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