The relationship between video games and ballet might be greater than we think

Video games have long been compared to film, but perhaps it is more apt to compare them to ballet. In a column from The New York Times, writer Chris Suellentrop considers video games as ballet and draws parallels between the two art forms.

Drawing from Jennifer Homan's Apollo's Angels, a book about the history of ballet, Suellentrop says that playing games is as much about motion and gesture as it is about witnessing what occurs on a screen.

He writes:

Ballet is, in the words of Homans, "full of emotions and the feelings that come with music and movement." And so are games. Ballet straddles the world of music, literature, art and performance. And so do games. And much like the way video games have struggled to separate themselves from sports, board games and toys, early ballet struggled to separate itself from music; dance was not seen as a distinct art form. Yet its earliest practitioners hoped to "create a new kind of spectacle," one that "would harmonize dance, music, and language into a measured whole." Replace dance with "movement," sprinkle in a dash of cinematography and that sounds a lot like some game developers I've met.

Ballet is "an art of memory," Homans writes. "No wonder dancers obsessively memorize everything: steps, gestures, combinations variations, whole ballets." She continues, "These are physical memories; when dancers know a dance, they know it in their muscles and bones." And so do gamers, when they know a video game. The players of Call of Duty and Halo have more in common with ballerinas than either might like to admit.


Suellentrop's complete column where he discusses the medium's growing pains and his hopes for a Christmas game that can match the texts, songs, dances, plays and movies "that bring in the season every year" can be read here.

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