March 26, 2018

Article by Katie Moritz


On a Thursday in November, ballet dancers lie on the floor in a row, punching bags looming over them. In sync, their graceful bodies bend forward, their fists hitting the bags before they sink back to the floor.

Boxers and ballet dancers line up during “The Art of Boxing, The Sport of Ballet.” – photo courtesy of Saint Paul Ballet

It’s not an avant-garde dance performance. It’s a weekly occurrence at Element Gym, a boxing gym in St. Paul, Minnesota, that has forged an unlikely alliance with Saint Paul Ballet, a dance company that has made it its mission to change the way people see the art form.

One of the athletes leading the charge is Zoé Henrot, a lifelong dancer and now the artistic director of Saint Paul Ballet. She wondered how taking up boxing could make her an even better dancer—and do the same for others in the company, too.