The ballet line is composed of proportions and geometry, and a particularly elegant carriage of the upper body. It is about triangles created in various poses--check out those triangles--as well as the maintenance of turnout and pointed feet (yes, sometimes the choreographer can make alterations but these do not carry throughout an entire ballet). If you watch the videos of the Vaganova Academy students, for example, you can see even in the barre exercises where the dancers are not on pointe, the particular line that distinguishes ballet.
I had a male ballet teacher some time ago who only had to stand in fifth position (no pointe shoes) and you felt you were at the ballet, so perfect were the proportions, the turnout, the upper body carriage, the shape created by the muscles of the thighs and calves. I may admire the line to the horizon of a set of railroad tracks, but that is different from a ballet line.
The ballet line for me is something I feel I can see and understand but can't clearly articulate in words, so thanks for your comments, Angelica. Line can be described as proper alignment as defined by the particular school or syllabus, perhaps? You can definitely see it at the barre when a well-trained dancer is taking class,
Yes, you're exactly right, AlbanyGirl. It is, indeed, a matter of alignment, not a matter of opinion. My point has been that I have never seen a satisfactory definition of ballet line. So even though you and I are getting close to the thing, and we definitely know it when we see it, I would love to find a satisfying definition that is not tautological. By that I mean something that goes beyond "ballet line is the particular alignment of the body that is characterized by ballet."
Well, I'm going to be off this board for a week while I try not to break a leg skiing in Colorado. So I won't be hammering this point(e) (haha). But we're getting close, AlbanyGirl, and maybe sometime we can nail it. Thanks so much for responding. Sometimes one thinks one's posts are going into a black hole and it's so reassuring to know that they have clicked with someone out there.
Well, have a great time, Angelica, please don't break a leg and enjoying your wonderful skiing. Also, thanks for your feedback because I, too, sometimes feel like no one is listening or doesn't care to respond. Certainly not at all with this particular thread as it has been a pleasure today and very rewarding.