How Do Ballet Dancers Remember All Those Steps?

You’ve just spent two and a half or three hours in your seat watching a beautiful ballet. Have you ever had the thought, “How do they remember all those steps!?”

Photo: Kasper Nybo

Ballet dancers have two major tricks up their sleeves.

1. MUSIC. The music does absolute wonders for dancers. Once the music becomes familiar, the steps are 100 times easier to remember. Even if you haven’t performed a role for several years, if you hear the music, usually the steps just start coming back to you.

Photo: Kasper Nybo

2. MUSCLE MEMORY. Ballet dancers have a tool that they’ve been training from the very first day that they took a ballet class. Our muscle memory is highly tuned. When we are preparing for a premiere, we practice the steps for 4-6 weeks. Our muscles get familiar with the sequences, until they are so familiar that we don’t even have to think about the steps anymore. Eventually, after hours of practice, the steps just come and we get the luxury to finally let go and perform.


Do Professional Ballet Dancers Get Help With Their Hair Before A Show?

Please Help Me!

Absolutely! If you are like me, where hair styling is not a talent, then it is a must. I have been that girl who thought she didn’t need a hairdressers help and then, my hair came out on stage! Luckily, it was during first-act Giselle, which made it somewhat ok.

Having hairdressers is a luxury which most major ballet company’s have, but (!) never underestimate the power of teamwork and helping each other, in case a hairdresser is not an option!

Photo: Kasper Nybo
Photo: Sofie Mathiassen
Napoli First Act Preparation

At Royal Danish Ballet, you can choose to do your own hair but between the wigs, the headpieces, the fancy braids (Bournonville), the curlers and the slicked back French twists, most of us choose to take advantage of the help. Boys and girls. It feels nice to let someone fuss over your hair while you can take a few moments to calm down and zone out before the curtain goes up. Over time, the hairdressers become your friends and a permanent part of your preparation routine before a show. I’m extremely grateful that we have such lovely colleagues to work with.

Queen of Hearts Wig