One of my four focal areas for 2017 is to “live fit.” I’m hoping to accomplish this in a number of ways, but one I was really excited about was to take a ballet class. I’m in the last week of my first eight-week session, and I thought it would be fun to report in! Whenever I’ve talked about taking ballet with friends or strangers, they’ve had a lot of questions, so let’s pretend we’re having a typical convo here :)
Photo by Simply Seleta – one of the people who inspired me to return to ballet!
Why did you want to take a ballet class? I grew up a devoted bun head from about age 3 to age 18, taking classes 5 days a week at a traditional and rigorous school. I have a deep love for the rhythms and art of ballet, and mainly thought taking a class would be fun — and hopefully provide some exercise along the way.
Is it weird to take ballet again after such a long break? It feels like snuggling into a very familiar, comfy sweater :) The technique hasn’t changed, and I still know all the French terms. The music still makes me hum along, and I’m still not very good at développés. I am definitely not as flexible as I once was.
There was this very beautiful moment the first time I left the studio after class, stepping out into the cool night air, sweatpants over my sweaty tights and leotard. I had this rush of familiarity, like I’ve done this exact same thing thousands of times, but instead of scanning the parking lot for my mom’s minivan I hopped into my own car and drove home to my husband and daughter. How neat that something can stay a constant through such different seasons of my life! I’m grateful I’m able to enjoy it for what it is in this season and not wish for something that was.
How did you find the class? Like I said, I grew up with a technique-focused classical dance education, and that was what I was looking for (unlike a ballet hybrid like Pure Barre, which I’ve also taken and enjoyed!). If you’re looking for the same, keep an eye out for a studio that talks about a classical education and requires a dress code (usually certain color leotards for certain levels) and steer away from anything with a competition team. From there, I took a free trial class, and then signed up for an eight-week session!
What is the class like? Because it is a “fundamentals” class, it is very barre heavy – about an hour of the class is spent at the barre, unlike a typical class, which would probably be closer to 45 minutes. The teacher demonstrates each combination before we begin, and gives individual correction throughout. We sometimes start with sit-ups, push-ups, and planks. After barre work, we do center work, including adagio, turns, and small jumps, and then usually end with a few across-the-floor combinations (big jumps, turns, etc.). It’s an hour and a half long.
Who else is in the class? It’s been a bit different every week, but there are usually about 8-10 of us. If I had to guess, I would say that 3-4 of the other girls are in middle school, 3-4 are in high school, and 1-2 are adults. The skill level varies from a few girls who probably started dancing 1-2 years ago to the high school girls who are in the school’s company and are taking this class for extra conditioning. It’s a good mix!
Someone asked me if it’s weird or awkward to be in a class with middle and high schoolers, and in my opinion, no! I embrace it! I think it’s fun to be around them and get to talk about spirit week and things like that, haha! I was very proud when one of them complimented me on my sneakers – glad to know I can still hang with the youth :)
What do you wear? Ahh, the most popular question! I wear a leotard and pink or black tights, black shorts, and split sole ballet slippers. I wear my hair in a bun. Thankfully, I saved all of my gear from high school! The dress code is fairly relaxed, though, and some people wear workout leggings and athletic tops.
What did you love to do growing up, and do you still do it? Or any other questions I can answer? :)