The Dance Class Workshop.


The Dance Class Workshop

A Heavenly Harmony - The Extraordinary Story of Ballet

HARMONY: Greek ἁρμονία (harmonía): the " beautiful fitting together" of parts.

Ballet - a World of Meaning...

The word ballet is French and was borrowed into English around 1630. The French word comes from the Italian balletto, (a little dance) which comes from Latin ballare, meaning "to dance".

The Latin word comes from the Greek (ballizo), "to dance, to jump about".[

Three dancing senior students are running a Ballet Class Workshop for novices, all hoping to touch the magic of this captivating art.

Running alongside, the Allen Centre has discovered something most surprising! Ballet is geometry in disguise! Music is all to do with numbers!

AND according to some ancient thinking, geometry and numbers are the basis of the Universe itself!

Not only could triangles determine distances between planets, but these triangles, when linked together made 3D geometrical shapes in the sky!

Even more surprising, the spinning planets vibrating their way around their orbits were believed to make music (which we can't hear) - the Music of the Spheres.

Touching God....

300 years ago ballet blossomed in the French Court of Kings. People believed that the King was divine, given power by God himself.

Since people also believed that God designed and made the Universe using geometry and numbers, all perfectly balanced and in harmony,

it seemed a very good way of getting closer to God and his Angels by mirroring his great design on Earth.

French King Louis XIV developed ballet and its steps to do just this (this is why all ballet words are in French).

Scroll down to discover more....



HARMONY in the Heavens, HARMONY in Geometry and HARMONY in Music.

Ancients with Harmonious Ideas translated into Ballet...


Pythagoras (572-497 BC) was a Greek philosopher and mathematician.

He was the first person to claim that everything in nature, from the

vibrations of a string to the orbiting of the planets, can be understood by

way of numbers. Pythagoras said:

  • "Number rules the universe".

  • "Geometry is knowledge of the eternal" (meaning God).

  • There is geometry in the humming of the strings (meaning music)

  • The whole universe is based on the numbers 1,2,3,4 which added together, make 10. No other numbers that are not related to these numbers.

pythagoras universe

Pythagoras' Musical Universe

Pythagoras believed the Solar System consisted of 10 planets revolving around a

central fire. Each planet (or sphere) gave off a sound the way something does when it swishes through the air.

  • The closer planets gave off lower tones.

  • The furthest away gave off higher tones.

All fitted together in perfect HARMONY - the music of the spheres.

universe music1

The Idea of The Music of the Spheres

People can't actually hear the planets' music!

Because moving objects cause invisible waves just like a plucked string does

when it vibrates into sound waves , Pythagoras believed moving planets also

make vibrating waves and therefore must make sound.

But Pythagoras also believed that everything relates to numbers - even music

was linked to numbers. Read below to see how...


Plato (429-3487BC) was another famous philosopher. He thought a lot

about the natural world and how we see it. What is real?

Read a famous story linked to this idea Plato's Cave.


Plato 's Idea: Triangles in 3D

He also thought a lot about solid shapes and worked out that there were exactly

5 patterns which could be made from triangles, squares and polygons.

Plato's shapes are called Platonic Solids.

The Platonic solids are special because every face is a regular polygonof the same size and shape. For example, each face of a cube is a square.These solids were thought to be in harmony - everything fitted togetherperfectly.

Kepler (1570-1631) was a German astronomer and mathematician.

He found that if he drew a circle around each of the five Platonic solids

and if each of the solids were nested within one another, the six circles would correspond to the orbits of the planets.

Because of this perfect geometry, the Universe was described as being in HARMONY.

Kepler thought he had revealed God’s geometrical plan for the universe.


Kepler's Model of the Universe

Harmony in Music - it's all about a good fit...sound waves C and G
Sound waves patterns for C (red) and G (green)
Every 3rd wave of G matches every second wave of C (you see the matchalong the black line)We describe their match in numbers. We say their ratio is 3:2 - two of Pythagoras'====special numbers.====
The waves are a good fit so they make a nice sound. They are in HARMONY.
sound waves C and F#

Sound wave pattern for C (red) and F# (green)
The waves don't fit together exactly anywhere at all.The notes played together make us cringe!

A quick lesson in HARMONY:

  • When you play a music note the sound sends an invisible vibration through the air. These vibrations are called sound waves.

  • The faster the sound waves travel, the higher the pitch of the note.

  • Musical notes can be written as names - C, D, E, F, G, A, B

  • They can be written as frequencies - vibrations/ second.

  • They can be written as ratios, e.g. middle C is twice the frequency of the C below (the sound waves vibrate twice as fast). The ratio is 2:1.

  • Pythagoras linked all musical notes back to numbers and ratios.

  • The ratios between the notes are the basis of the musical scale we learn today.

  • The simpler the ratios the better the harmony.

  • When the wavelengths of two notes played together meet cleanly, we say they are in harmony.

So where is all this harmony leading?

King LouisLouis XIV as Apollo Ballet de la Nuit Henri Gissey ed.jpg

King Louis XIV of France (1643-1715)

Right: Dressed as Apollo, The Sun King and King of Peace and Harmony.

300 years ago in France, people thought the King was Divine, given his power to rule directly from God.

People also believed that God designed and made the Universe using geometry and numbers, all

perfectly balanced and in harmony.

It seemed a very good way of getting closer to God and his Angels by mirroring his great design

on Earth. Dancing was thought to help people achieve harmony in their souls.

Putting harmonious geometry to harmonious music was the perfect opportunity!

French King Louis XIV developed ballet and its steps to do just this.

The steps and body positions have remained the same ever since.


Every step in ballet is based on perfect angles and geometry. Dance moves follow invisible

patterns on the floor. The dancers trace out symmetrical patterns using perfect balance.

The steps are carefully choreographed to match the rhythms and harmony patterns in the

music. To make this dance geometry dancers have to train and shape their bodies for years.

Their aim is perfect balance and harmony. It is very difficult to achieve!

Now (hopefully) all the ballet photos at the top of the page make sense!

Watch some ballet geometry in action...