10 things my cats have taught me about ballet


A pas de chat, for those of my readers who aren’t dance people, is a ballet term that translates as “step of the cat.” It’s a subtle little leap under yourself, one foot up, the other instantly following. You come down, maybe six-to-twelve inches away, landing in the same soft, one-foot-then-the-other movement. Like a cat. Or at least that’s the goal. I always think “graceful cat” as I jump, tuck my feet in, the two of them creating a mid-air diamond shape before coming down, but what the mirror sometimes reveals is “anxious cat walking on snow for the first time.” Ah well.

Still, my cats are my inspiration in the art of movement. I watch them, particularly the younger one, still kittenish and lively at four years, and mentally file away what they teach me. And so, here you are. Movement wisdom, for dancers and non-dancers alike, courtesy of my cats:

1)    Focus before you leap. Don’t just stupidly fling yourself out there. Know where you plan to go and how you plan to land. Engage 100%, in body, in mind.

2)    Stretch. Stretch a lot. Stretch extra big every time you yawn.

3)    Make your landings sure-footed and soft, your joints loose enough to cushion the landing.

4)    Graze throughout the day. Drink lots of water.

5)    Be in the moment. Don’t go doing one movement and be thinking about another.

6)    Take long naps so that you’re refreshed when you do decide to move around again.

7)    Sudden bursts of maniacal energy as you sprint across the room can be fun.

8)    Observe all that goes on around you. Remain perfectly still as you do so. Sometimes it’s more about the stillness, the focus, than the movement.

9)     When you get hurt, be it physical or emotional, go find a quiet corner, hole up, and lick your wounds. Let them heal before you throw yourself back Out There. Then, when they are healed, don’t linger. Go throw yourself back Out There.

10)  Move for the joy of it. Pour your all into it.


…. And then go nap some more.

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© 2013 Terez Rose

12 thoughts on “10 things my cats have taught me about ballet”

  1. Oh, I loved hearing more about “entrechat,” Katherine. Very interesting; thank you for posting the link! Hope others check it out as well.

  2. I’m really a cat person, but unfortunately I’m allergic. This is great, all the cuteness and gracefulness, without the sneezing!

  3. Rachael,

    Meow! [Cat-speak for “thanks!”]


    Meow! [Cat-speak for, “yes, I can see how that does somewhat complicate the situation, these pesky allergies toward my species, and I’m glad we were able to entertain you without exacerbating that condition.”]

    Human Translator’s notes:

    Cats are so much more complex in their vocabulary and thoughts than one would expect, hearing simply the “meow.” Now, I translate for dogs as well, I’ll have you know, and their vocabulary and thought process are quite a bit less complicated. Observe the following:

    “Woof!” Translates as “Food! I’m so happy!”

    “Woof!” Translates as “People! I’m so happy!”

    “Woof!” Translates as “Ball! I’m so happy!”

    “Woof!” Translates as “Outdoors! I’m so happy!”

    In the end, all is clear: cats rule and are superior in most every way except for size. Certainly intelligence and dignity. I’ll say no more.

  4. Editor’s comment:

    Please note. The above was not written by the administrator or the editor. The cats grabbed hold of the keyboard, a thought previously considered impossible as they have no opposable thumbs. Regardless, the comments above do not reflect those of this site’s administrators, and if you have an issue with the above, with its derogatory emphasis on a dog’s intelligence, we sincerely apologize.

    … Maybe.

  5. Pingback: 8 Links for Dance Students | Dance Advantage
    • Oh, what a hilarious perspective! And doesn’t that say it all?! (Got two cats nearby, as we speak, utterly bored by my guffaws of laughter.) Thanks for the great comment!


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