I’ve just seen this video – who would’ve thought that a deodorant advertisement would encapsulate so many points about ballet and what it’s like ?
It reminds me of an incident when my colleague and I were chatting about our weekend. I’d said something about not doing much, having been completely worn out from ballet class, and she asked: “But isn’t ballet very relaxing?”
I was so stunned that I had to ask her to repeat her question! But in fairness, her comment only served to prove how successful ballet dancers are in creating the illusion of ease and lightness.
And anyone who does ballet is constantly working towards appearing effortless. I started learning ballet as a child, from 5 to 11 years old, during which I completed my RAD Grades 3 and 4. I stopped because the classes were getting increasingly expensive, and I wasn’t passionate enough about ballet then to beg my parents to let me continue.
The years went by but I never lost my interest in ballet. In fact, as I got older the inclination to take up ballet again grew stronger, and I eventually went back to the barre when I was 23. In truth, it took me a while to get back into dancing – my main motivation for starting classes again was boredom (ballet was a way for me to be doing something different), and I was lazy and skipped classes rather often.
I don’ t know when the turning point was, but it was definitely about two years later when I was back home and learning under an experienced and serious teacher that I really got into ballet. I signed up for the Grade 8 exams (because my teacher wanted us to complete Grade 8 before moving on to the vocational grades), went to class twice a week and took part in the ballet school’s biennial showcase.
I was fortunate to have had the chance to take classes with more advanced dancers. Each lesson was a constant challenge to learn the steps, keep up with the pace, exhibit the same level of musicality and style, while attempting to raise my legs higher or show more epaulement – but it was a great way to improve.
It hasn’t been easy keeping up upon the move to Belfast. It took a while to find classes for adults, and until recently – last week, in fact – there have only been mixed-experience classes but none for my level. I honestly can’t tell if I’ve improved in the year or so that I’ve been here, without going back to one of my old classes. I think my core strength has improved very slightly and the leg lifts are higher, but my pirouettes are as awful as ever – if not worse – and I don’ t know if my brain and feet work as fast as before.
But I’m picking up some contemporary dance now, which is great as ballet dancers can only benefit from learning different dance styles. One of my classes is a ballet-contemporary class, and I’ve even gotten involved in an upcoming performance which I will be talking about very soon, closer to the date. I’ve gotten to know other adults too – proper adults, not those in their early-twenties – and classes have never been more enjoyable.
I’ll end off abruptly here but watch this space – can’t wait to share videos of the upcoming project!