September 20, 2020

BY RACHEL ROYRR-DSC_0573

History, as we know, is filled with war, blood and disagreements, but there was a time where the world revolved around something else – ballet.

On Nov. 17 at the Central Library branch of the Kitchener Public Library, Bengt Jörgen, artistic director of Ballet Jörgen Canada, introduced the history of ballet.

In addition, Jörgen displayed some of the different costumes for different times and music.

He also had professional dancers Saniya Abilmajineva and Daniel Da Silva perform.

Jörgen said ballet was a form of language and was used politically at first. People could not be a part of the government unless they were able to perform ballet and do it well.

Only men were allowed to perform because during the beginning of ballet, in the early 15th century, women could not hold power.

“I think that although it is sexist by today’s standards, and rightfully so, things like that were common back in those times,” said Victoria Meijer, a University of Waterloo student. “For example, I’m studying Shakespeare right now, which is about 1580-1600, and only men were allowed to be actors in the theatre. For a woman to do that was considered immoral.”

Jörgen said ballet started in Italy before spreading to France where it was performed to entertain aristocrats.

Over time ballet changed from a political statement to artistic and the ballerina came into being.

Jörgen believes that ballet should continue to act as an art form.

“It’s about the people,” he said.

Ballet takes years to master. Dancers don’t just start out one day and become stars.

Abilmajineva said she started “training” to become a ballerina when she was 10 years old and she continues to train at the age of 29. Silva started out later and began his “training” at 14.
“I think it makes sense,” Meijer said. “I mean, start early and they can form their bodies and minds easier to the lifestyle and demands of that kind of life.”

Although the history of ballet is interesting, Jörgen doesn’t think those who go to watch a performance need to know everything.

“If you need to know the history we have not done a good job when you see the show,” he said. “Ballet has adapted itself to whatever situation it’s in.”

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