Date of Publication
Stevie Oakes, Assistant Professor of Dance
The purpose of this this is to investigate the relationship between ballet and judo. Ballet and judo are movement practices that emerged from specific cultural contexts, are codified forms that maintain traditions of the origin while continuing to evolve to new generations of practitioners, and both require coordination between the body and the mind to be performed successfully.
To gain a deeper understanding of these physical parallels between ballet and judo, I went beyond my daily practice to study the movement vocabulary. I learned the first three sets of the traditional judo kata, Nage No Kata, which served as inspiration for an original ballet movement study that I created and performed.
It was important to my investigation that my choreographed work be a duet. Classical ballet is performed as an individual or with others in a duet, trio or group. However, judo cannot be done without a partner. In judo, whether in contest or kata, the uke and the tori are always facing one another; close contact is required for the throws to occur. When creating “Ballet No Kata’’, my initial inclination was to establish the same spatial relationship between the dancing bodies. Yet, while partnered dancers may be in an intimate proximity to one another, rarely do they stand face to face. Such a stance would not be consistent with classical ballet’s presentation of the body to the audience. As I created “Ballet No Kata”, I was also interested in how two dancing bodies could be in an established relationship without being physically connected. Relationship is critical in both ballet and judo; there must be trust, synchronization and understanding between the bodies no matter their orientation in space.
During the course of this research, both the analysis and the performance, I was able to move beyond the expression of a personal journey to show the interdisciplinary link between practices. There is a lack of connection between the world of dance, and the other physical disciplines that fall under the dichotomy of sport. By analyzing the movements in the ballet vocabulary and the judo vocabulary and finding parallels, I hope to present greater acknowledgement that these two worlds are closely related. Moreover, movers of any kind are informed from their lifetime of physical work. When parallels are made between past and current experiences, the information can be drawn upon to supplement growth.
DeLorme, Katherine J., "Ballet No Kata" (2015). Senior Honors Theses. 107.