Ballet Tarots

Tumblr is a wonderful way to discover artist decks, whether  they are independently published or only art projects. One that crossed my dash this last week is a ballet-inspired Major Arcana by RISD sophomore, Julia Tyler. The deck was created for a Concepts class and the artist states that she

… created a ballet-themed tarot set where I explored the connections between the visual symbolism of traditional ballet steps and characters, and the symbolic meanings of each tarot card. All hand painted with watercolor and then digitally scanned and printed.

Ballet tarot Major Arcana by Julia Tyler, 2015

Ballet Tarot Major Arcana by Julia Tyler, 2015

The cards can be viewed in larger size, as well as purchased as prints, at Julia’s RedBubble store.

This inspired me to go searching for other ballet or dance-inspired decks and cards. The Dancing Tarot is another Majors-only deck. marrying classic scenes from ballet and plants native to Japan. The artist is Minette K. and the self-published deck can be purchased here.

Ballet dancers are a very powerful image when related to tarot. They can be depicted in a scene from a well-known story, linking its subject matter to the card in question, as the Dancing Tarot does; they are a symbol of practice and dedication to perfection, as seen in the 3 of Pentacles from the Spiral Tarot; or the dancer themselves can embody the spirit of the card, as the Hanging Girl in the Barbie Tarot shows, suspended in a moment of poised grace.

While the Winged Spirit Tarot isn’t officially a ballet tarot, the figures and their positioning are clearly inspired by dancers’ physiques and the physically-demanding positions they are able to achieve. This dynamic strength translates to the cards, giving them an added intensity and focus.

I was very lucky to be exposed to ballet at a young age due to growing up in a city renowned (at the time) for its performing arts. It was so ingrained in the culture that we were taken to the theatre for nursery school field trips! To 4-year-old me, watching The Nutcracker performed live was the most magical experience. I attended a few ballet lessons, but quickly became disenchanted when denied pointe shoes and tutus after 4 classes, thus ending my illustrious career as a prima ballerina. (Good thing too – you don’t see many 6′ tall ballerinas being thrown around on stage :D)

Watching skilled dancers (whether in ballet or any other form) perform their art makes me – at the very least – misty-eyed, and often reduces me to fat, hot, drippy tears. I rarely made it through an episode of “So You Think You Can Dance” without sniffling! So I couldn’t end this post without sharing three of my favourite ballet dancers –

Misty Copeland – who defied the odds to become the first African American female soloist for ABT – is simply stunning to watch and I’m sure her legs are the inspiration for the Strength card:

The one and only Mikhail Baryshnikov in a scene from White Nights. I taped this off TV on VHS #oldhag and watched it to pieces! This scene and the opening credits are a sure-fire way to turn me into an emotional mess:

An absolutely incredibly talented young dancer (and ballet’s current bad boy), Sergei Polunin, dancing to Hozier’s “Take Me to Church” (directed by David LaChapelle):


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