The Twelve Days of Christmas – Nine Ladies Dancing

The Ninth Day of Christmas – Nine Ladies Dancing

Verse 9 of the Carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”,  begins :

On the Ninth Day of Christmas

My true Love sent to me

Nine Ladies Dancing……..

We are not given any clues as to the type of dance these “Nine ladies Dancing ” might be performing. I guess there are so many to chose from.

Maybe Folk or Country Dancing typical of the village in which they lived, or

A Pavan or Galliard typical of the upper class of the 16th Century-there’s a challenge for you to investigate these.

When I asked my true love, my Wife, for her thoughts on the subject, this was her reply:

When I think of ladies dancing, my mind turns to Ballet.

Of course ladies danced long before ballet began; in fact movement to music comes naturally to human beings, particularly those with a sense of rhythm and grace in movement. Gypsies danced across Europe to the sound of violins long before classical ballet was born.

Ballet is a type of performance dance which began in the 15th century in the Italian courts.

Classical ballet is usually performed to classical music and has a technique, a series of steps, jumps and turns which are named in French and taught according to the  French, Russian, Danish or English methods or Schools.

In Australia, until 1962 ballet was performed by visiting ballet companies from overseas. In 1962 the Australian Ballet Company was formed. The principal artists were Kathleen Gorham, Garth Welsh and Marilyn Jones, who had been members of the Borovansky Ballet. The director was Peggy Van Praagh.

It gave its first performance on  2 November that year with a full length performance of Swan Lake, with guest stars, Sonia Arova and Erik Bruhn dancing the principal roles.

Over the years The Australian Ballet has had, as guest artists, famous dancers such as Rudolph Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.

The Australian Ballet School has produced its own famous dancers  such as Lisa Pavanne, Greg Horsman and  Marilyn Eastoe, who have been internationally acclaimed.

The Ballet Pointe Shoe

Apart from the technique of ballet, the ballet pointe shoe is peculiar to this form of dance.

Pointe Ballet shoe

So “Nine Ladies Dancing “ in ballet are trained to dance “en Pointe” or on the tips of the toes. This gives the impression of lightness and almost weightlessness and enables beautiful turns to be executed.

Ballet dancers of the Australian Ballet use thousands of pairs of shoes every year. Some principal dancers wear a pair of shoes for only one performance. Individual dancers ‘prepare’ their shoes in different ways. The toe of the shoe is made of thick hard leather designed to support the toes as the dancer stands on her ‘pointe’. Although the shoes are covered with satin a dancer will often cut the end of the satin off and darn the pointe of the shoe to give a better grip, she may beat her shoe with a hammer to soften it so it will mould to her foot, or she may paint the inside of the shoe with shellac to make it last longer. She will strap individual toes with tape, or wear wool padding around her toes.

To be a ‘Lady Dancing” in ballet involves some pain in order to achieve the perceived ease and grace which the ballerina displays to her audience.

Well there you have it ! What-ever the dance performed, we can be fairly certain that the lady, who received the gift of “Nine Ladies Dancing”, would have been very happy.

Now here is a great idea for my Australian readers!  What about a ticket to the Australian Ballet as a Christmas present for your True Love ?

Doctor Bill


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