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Ballet, art or sport?


This week’s Lunch Unplugged series will bring guests backstage with Ballet Des Moines. Courtesy of Ballet Des Moines

This week’s Lunch Unplugged series will bring guests backstage with Ballet Des Moines. Courtesy of Ballet Des Moines06

Although the “winner” may not be as clear-cut as with sports such as football or basketball, the tenacity and grit behind the art of ballet is such that could rival any athlete’s weekly regiments. Artistic Director, Serkan Usta, of Ballet Des Moines agrees the preparation that goes into each and every performance can be interpreted in the same sport vein. But is ballet itself a sport?

“Absolutely not,” said Usta. “It is an art form.”

Dance competitions lend themselves to the sport category simply through competition. But, even in dancing terms, ballet is different.

“We are here to try to entertain people,” said Usta. “Here, people can escape from their lives for a couple hours and enter into a new, unimagined world. Everyone can have their own little experience.”

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There is no denying the art that is ballet, but to a novice spectator it seems there’s definitely sport involved, too. The hours of rigorous technique training wear on the body, so injuries are a constant worry. The men work their lower backs lifting their partners above their heads, and the women put all their weight on the strength of their pointed toes, straining muscles some may feel aren’t even meant to be used.

Sport? Art? How about sport-inspired art? Or art reflected in sport? Whatever you think you know or don’t know about ballet can be revealed at Backstage at the Ballet with Ballet Des Moines from the Lunch Unplugged series. In its third year, Lunch Unplugged infuses culturally rich programming into the downtown workday.                

The premise is simple: Take lunch with friends and coworkers in the downtown area by seeing all that the city has to offer. Backstage at the Ballet with Ballet Des Moines is a special behind-the-scenes glimpse into what it really takes to work as a professional dancer.                

“We try to educate people with this event,” Usta said. “You will see the work that goes into preparation and how exactly dancers get ready, but you’ll learn so much more.”              

The audience will be treated to a show highlighting the dedication and determination behind the art of ballet as the performers demonstrate basic warm-up combinations coupled with a few vignettes from a repertoire of contemporary and classical ballets.                

“You will see how our dancers prep themselves 20 minutes before a show; then we will show some of the routines from our repertoire,” said Usta. “There will be costume changes as well for each dance. One piece will be featured from ‘The Awakenings’ performance put on last October.”                

The last 10 minutes of the event will be open for Q and A with Usta and his dancers. This event is open to the public, and everyone is welcome. Sports nuts may leave with a newfound respect for the passionate purity of ballet, while art connoisseurs catch a glimpse at the stress and strain endured in their preparation. The separation of sport and art may be a grey area, but one thing is certain: Ballet Des Moines has its fair share of Artletes (artist/athletes). CV


What: Lunch Unplugged: Backstage at the Ballet with Ballet Des Moines

When: Thursday, March 7, 12-1 p.m.

Price: Tickets are $8 in advance, and can be bundled with lunch from South Union Bread Café for an additional $8 (must be ordered online three days prior to the show), or bring your own lunch. Advance tickets can be purchased online at, by phone at 515-246-2300 and at the Civic Center ticket office at 221 Walnut St. Tickets may also be purchased at the Temple Theater Ticket Office 30 minutes prior to the show for $10.

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