Here's What Happens When Boxers and Ballet Dancers Share the Stage

April 5, 2018

St. Paul Ballet simply needed space to rehearse. The troupe found that, and so much more, at a local Minnesota boxing gym. Today, the dancers train side by side with boxers at Element Gym, and the two groups have even teamed up for a co-choreographed show.

The Art of Boxing—The Sport of Ballet
first debuted last fall and will be reprised April 15 at Saint Paul’s Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. Nowhere near Minnesota? You can catch a teaser of the production below. It’s pointe-shoes-meets-boxing-gloves and a true display of grit and grace—from both the ballerinas and the fighters. The interactive performance sheds a light on the rituals of each practice.

St. Paul Ballet’s artistic director Zoé Emilie Henrot and Element Boxing director Dalton Outlaw, who choreographed the show together, found that the two disciplines are especially complementary. Initially, the dancers started cross-training with boxing and, in turn, they taught ballet to the boxers. In the video below, Outlaw notes how ballet has changed his own practice: “There’s some different movements that I’m doing just based off of some of the moves that I’ve learned in ballet—the way I coordinate it and the way that the balance is.”

The seemingly disparate forms also share a lot of common ground: The mental and physical rigor, not to mention the extreme focus on detail, are to integral both disciplines. And, Henrot says, “Ballet and boxing require the single person to spend a lot of time with one’s self.” Check out how these artist-athletes have combined their passions: