"If there ever comes a day when we can't be together,
keep me in your heart, I'll stay there forever."
Winnie The Pooh
My husband loves driving. And racing. Cars, motorbikes, go-karts, pretty much anything with wheels is put to the test in a personal skill-building quest for increased efficiency and speed. He can tell you exactly how to position your body in the seat so that you learn how to feel the lean of the car or bike. He can explain how to hold the steering wheel and where to direct your gaze so that you take a corner nice and easy, and fast, all at the same time.
And me, I love ballet. I love seeing the technical and artistic elements blend together to create this exquisite art form. I love learning about the function of the metatarsals (toes) and how to best engage the external rotators. I love seeing the effect achieved by lifting the cheekbones rather than the chin. It fascinates me how visualisation and use of imagery can make an immediate difference to presentation.
At first, you probably wouldn't think that car racing and classical ballet have much in common, but you'd be surprised. The precision that is required in both crafts is remarkable.
Take for instance, the basic physical foundations of ballet: dancers must learn how to hold their bodies in alignment for maximum physical control - feet, toes, ankles, knees, hips, pelvis, spine, ribs, shoulders, arms, fingers, neck, and head. In a vehicle, the driver must learn how to hold their body for maximum vehicle control - foot positioning, leg pressure and length between seat and pedals, the way the pelvis and torso is contained in the seat, the set of the shoulders when the arms are stretched out to the wheel, the neck and head position.
A faulty foundation will prompt delay on a number of levels - efficiency, functionality, speed, agility, endurance, flexibility. Imagine attempting to accelerate with the brake pedal. It's simply not going to happen! It will slow you down, possibly cause an accident, and wear out the brake pads. In dance terms, never underestimate the importance of engaging the correct muscle for the job. For example, if you use your gluteal muscles to maintain your turnout, those buns will over-engage and wear out by the time you get to allegro (jumps)!
Once those steady foundations are set, layers of advanced technique become natural progressions. Speed and agility can be discovered in handbrake turns or triple pirouettes. Endurance and stamina in long distance drives or adagio. Flexibility and adaptability in varied driving conditions or choreographic demands - or splits!
And so you see, with a little creative thinking, there is quite a lovely connection between car racing and classical ballet.
A couple of final thoughts...
Artistry in dance - all encompassing & a topic for another day.
Artistry in driving - not something I endorse in terms of practical driving skills.
Speed - on both counts, slow down & enjoy the journey!