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The marriage of football and ballet

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Well, we started to touch on the topic of football in another thread, and I thought that before I got that one too off point(e) -- pardon the pun, I would take the discussion over here. After all, the season for both football and ballet are both gearing up, and some of the members here might be surprised to find that they have a bit in common.

While the idea of ballet training for football players is slowly gaining acceptance (in recent years, the kicker for the Saints came to our studio for ballet training to improve his flexibility), there was a young man who did more than anyone in the 20th century to illustrate the benefits of ballet training for football players: Lynn Swann.

Swann was a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s and 1980s, and his ballet training was well known throughout the league. According to the Pinstripe Press, Swann was described in NFL films as "a lethal combination of smooth sipping whiskey and greased lightning ... Swann was arguably the most graceful receiver in NFL history. He made more key catches - in more big games - and in more spectacular fashion - than any receiver did. His ballet training enabled him to defy gravity and his hands were second-to-none."

Swann played in 4 Superbowls and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is now on the board of directors of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, where he has created a youth scholarship.

I thought some of you might also be interested in a recent newspaper interview with Pacific Northwest dancer Nicolas Ade that appeared in the SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER. Here's an excerpt:

What's the difference between ballet and football?

"Ballet is art. It's not about winning, it's about creating movements that are compelling but look effortless. Football players have pads, tape, helmets and braces to protect them. We're out there on our own. Of course, in the corps, there's teamwork. Everybody has to be in sync and on the right count. Within that, you have a chance to express yourself."

For more: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/classical/12..._satchat28.html

And finally, this is from the archives of UNIVERSITY WEEK, a publication of the University of Washington, from 2000, but well worth reading:

Pirouettes and QB sacks: Ballet, contact sports pose equal risk of injury

By Joel Schwarz

News & Information

Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty may be as tough opponents as the Sonics or the Seahawks.

Psychologists trying to understand the factors that put athletes and performers at risk for injuries have found that professional ballet dancers get hurt just as often and suffer just as serious injuries as athletes in contact sports.

To read the entire article:


So, there you have just bit of how much ballet and football are compared and contrasted.

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Guest Iceflight

I'm new to the boards, but I had to add to this. There is actually "a football ballet", Jo Strømgren's "A dance tribute to the art of football". European football, but still...

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