Doing a daily exercise program is a great way to get in shape. But sometimes ambitions rise higher than this. In the past, a young woman was expected not only to be slim and beautiful, but to have poise, grace and elegance. Among the upper classes, this was often achieved through the study of ballet. Let’s take a look:
This is a very high standard of student dance, and is probably best considered early training as a professional dancer rather than part of a regular upper-middle-class education. Nevertheless, we are now moving well beyond doing squats and pushups, to a very elevated milieu of physical performance.
Young men would be engaged in sports. Like sports, dance can be competitive, and requires the refinement of high-level skills over a period of years. It exercises teamwork and social skills. However, unlike sports, it is not inherently combatitive.
Amateur ballet performances are interesting, because they are often full of beautiful women in the audience — typically, mothers who also danced when they were younger. As an example of what I mean by “poise, grace and elegance,” here is an interview with Svetlana Zakharova, one of the finest dancers of her time. Compare her aspect with that of her interviewer.
She was forty years old in this video — and with an eight-year-old daughter, she too is a Ballet Mom. Here is Zakharova clotheshorsing it for Vogue Italy in 2014 — age 35:
Here she is on the job: