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.

More from Polygon

German and Russian armor clash in Combat Mission: Red Thunder

  • Tour the 1 KB hard drive built inside Minecraft

  • Enemy Starfighter: Homeworld from inside a fighter

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare gameplay trailer

  • Diablo 3 - Xbox One vs. PC comparison

Latest Discussions

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.
Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_5353_tracker