Last week, I decided to hit up The Ailey Extension for an introductory ballet class. I had heard that ballet is a great form of exercise but never really gave much thought to trying it. I danced a lot in high school, mainly hip-hop, which always kept me fit and moving. However, back then ballet never appealed to me–it seemed too slow and too pretty of a dance for someone like myself, and was honestly somewhat intimidating. Now, not having danced in a while, I thought, DO IT!
The website highlighted the fact that the class was completely beginner – meaning anyone could attend, no matter what age or level of dance experience. I rushed over to the studio excitedly in my gym clothes, registered myself, and walked over to the line to go in. Was I at the wrong studio? All the other people waiting were dressed in leotards, had ballet shoes on, and were doing stretches looking serious. Here I was in my gym shorts, a Cal t-shirt and some Nike Frees. I had called the studio beforehand and asked if I needed ballet shoes and they said no…needless to say, I felt sort of off and needed to double-check that I was in the right place. I was.
Then arrived the ballet instructor–a short, limber man who walked with much confidence and purpose. Upon seeing him, the students immediately formed an assembly line to bring in the ballet barres, and I joined in. In a matter of two minutes, the room was full of rows of ballet barres and we all took our places!
There were no introductions; our instructor simply turned on the music and went straight to it. Although it was a somewhat awkward, crazy beginning for me, the rest of the class was amazing!
Our instructor taught us the basic ballet positions and exercises. He moved quickly and as he walked around the room, he gave us each feedback when he saw fit. He critiqued our postures and poses, and he didn’t do it in a mean or intimidating way–his class was fun and professional and I almost felt like I was in one of those intense ballet class scenes you see in the movies.
I have never tried ballet before and never realized how great of a workout it could be! In that short hour and a half, my balance, coordination, focus, flexibility and endurance were all tested. I can see what some of the long-term benefits of ballet can be: a better posture, a stronger core, increased strength and stamina, and well-toned muscles. Not to mention artistic development, grace and confidence.
I had so much fun at the class; I was breaking a sweat and working my body hard. I loved it! I have so much respect and admiration for ballet dancers! If you have the chance, check out an introductory class and see for yourself.
Unfortunately I was sick these past few days so I missed yesterday’s class. But I can’t wait for the next class and this time around, I will come prepared with ballet shoes! Maybe some hot pink ones like these: