Appreciation of Ballet

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Ballet & Thinking

“I would not know what the spirit of a philosopher might wish more to be than a good dancer.” —Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Read for diagrams and maps of how people play games with your mind and heart.

Ballet Is Culture

  • Ballet is the high art of culture. It is the only art where perfection is required.
  • We are going to use ballet as an example of “how to” and “how not to” use thinking.

Helpful Thinking for Appreciating Ballet

  • This page provides some perspective on ballet that can help you to either appreciate or to appreciate it more.

To See Ballet

  • Look at a ballet performance as two things happening simultaneously.


  • The dancer is moving and the movement needs to be followed.
  • You can follow the outline, the form, the arms, the hands, the legs, the feet.
  • Whether you choose to follow a part or the whole of the dancer, this way of two still works.
  • You should experiment and note that some dancers and dances are better appreciated with one aspect over another.


  • The dancer is cutting and the cutting needs to be followed.
  • The dancer is precisely cutting and shaping space with their movements.
  • Let us repeat, space is being shaped by the dancer’s cuts.
  • The dancer is the scissors cutting the air into perfect patterns, shapes, and lines.
  • If you prefer, the dancer is the pen and the air is the canvass for the invisible line-drawing on your mind.
  • You must see these ideal shapes and lines to enjoy ballet.

Rule for Seeing Ballet

  • You must simultaneously see the dancer and the lines cut by the dancer to be affected by ballet.

Human Vision

  • Dance takes advantage of an aspect of human vision that Leonardo da Vinci was probably the first to comment on—trails.
  • Your eyes make trails of movement even when you do not see the trails externally.
  • Some call the trails visible persistence.

Trails Are Used

  • You can see trails easily with fireworks displays, which take advantage of trails for our entertainment.
  • Trails have long been exploited by animators like Walt Disney to create a sense of motion between still images.
  • Sometimes you see trails externally that you would not normally due to special effects, special lighting, special contrasts, failing vision, or hallucinogenics.
  • For the purpose of ballet, it is important to know your brain registers and is affected by these trails even when you do not see them externally.
  • These trails are what ballet is designed to affect you with.
  • The meaning of art is its effect.
  • Ballet has no effect and no meaning if you do not follow and so feel the trails.
  • Once you are sensitive to the trails, they can affect you with surprise, joy, amusement, and many enjoyable emotions and experiences.

Dancers Need

  • Dancers must understand that pausing is often needed to form trails.
  • A dancer can set a trail too fast or too slow.
  • Dancing is an art in part because a dancer must understand and work with trails.
  • Sometimes the difference between marking a trail and missing marking a trail is only a couple of microseconds.
  • A great dancer develops a feel for how long it takes to mark a trail.

Helpful Thinking

  • See how helpful thinking can be.
  • Now many more can appreciate ballet in particular and dance in general by becoming affected by line.

Hurtful Thinking

  • Now if you try to see the dancer and the cuts with thinking, then you will fail to see.
  • If you think about the dancer making cuts, then you will fail to see.
  • If you try to interpret or understand the trails, then you will fail to see.
  • If you try to follow a method to see both dancer and cuts, then you will fail to see.
  • Thought will never see no matter how correct or ordered.
  • There is no procedure for seeing, so no thinking.

Thinking Cannot

  • You cannot see the ballet with or through thinking.
  • Thinking was only helpful by telling you where to look.
  • Thinking itself can never look or see for you.
  • Thinking can only interfere with, distort, and disrupt your experience.
  • Think before and after seeing not when seeing.
  • You can stop to think but go back to just seeing.

Thinking Good & Bad

  • So thinking was good for pointing us where to look.
  • And thinking was bad for looking.

  • Read for help understanding your thinking.

Book cover for We're All Insane

2 Great Ballerinas


  • Read for diagrams and maps of how people play games with your mind and heart.