Having a somewhat respected reputation as a theatre school founder, and having helped nurture the careers of many of our performers it is probably of little surprise that I keep the fact that I was expelled from ballet class at the age of 4 a little quiet. Apparently, I talked too much and just wanted to do my own thing at the barre! Me? A control freak? Never!
So when my Stage & the City team came to me and said that we should start doing Ballet for Adults it is probably of little surprise that I felt little drops of sweat down the back of my neck. Obviously repressed psychological trauma at never being able to reprise my role as a sugar plum fairy!
I wondered if others had had similar experiences to myself. I certainly knew that most people have the perception that ballerinas should be a size 0 and live on water and figs for 6 days a week and maybe a banana slice at the weekend if they were good.
But I forced myself to do some research on the benefits of ballet for adults and was pleasantly surprised at how wrong I was. Here are some interesting insights that I discovered along the way which should appeal to anyone whether they are a size 0 or size 26.
Facts About Ballet
- A ballet class provides a rigorous workout – yep ballerinas may look like they are super graceful and perfectly poised – but they will be working hard and sweating under their tutus.
Ballet has a positive impact on the body in terms of flexibility and strength. It can strengthen and tone the core muscles, the stomach and upper back as well as the buttock area and all the main leg muscles. And of course, it can strengthen feet and ankles. In fact, ballet involves all four components of physical fitness: body composition, cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility.
- It is a great for anti-ageing as it postpones inflexibility, tightness and muscle loss which are unfortunate consequences of growing older.
- It is a great supplement for various illnesses. Studies have shown how it can ward off dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis. The physiotherapist Daphne Cushine explains how “….ballet is extremely effective in the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders”. Sufferers of Parkinson’s disease have also benefited as regular participation can temporarily alleviate poor balance and a lack of coordination skills.
- It is great for mental well-being; providing meditation for the soul as well as exercise for the body.
- It is a great exercise for the brain because absolute concentration is needed. This is why studies have suggested that this can help to reduce the risk of dementia.
- Professional male ballet dancers have to be super strong. They sometimes have to lift over one and a half tonnes worth of ballerinas during a single performance. Their legs, arms and torso have to be pretty strong!
- It is common for US footballers to take ballet as it strengthens their muscles while improving their balance and poise.
- Romanian police officers have been known to take ballet classes so that they can manage traffic with more grace and ease.
- Team Scotland’s Rugby Sevens has even received sports psychology coaching from former Bolshoi ballet dancer Misha Botting. His understanding of the importance of teamwork and the absolute need for peak physical fitness was paramount in his support of the rugby players.
Although rugby players and footballers would be more than welcome to join Stage & the City’s Beginners Ballet classes in September I would like to stress that we will not be exclusive. All shapes, sizes and ages, (18 plus) will be more than welcome. So bring your cellulite along to enjoy this energizing dance class and benefit from all of the above.
As an adult, I probably won’t insist on doing my own thing at the barre and hopefully, Jenny, the ballet teacher, won’t have to constantly tell me to be quiet while everybody else is trying to meditate with graceful poises. Don’t think I could re-live my childhood trauma of being expelled!
To sign up for our Beginners Ballet Classes please visit: www.stageandthecity.com/ballet-for-beginners
Thursdays 7 pm-8 pm in Kings Cross followed by Contemporary Dance 8.10pm – 9.10pm
Anna Fiorentini – Founder & Principal of Stage & the City and the Anna Fiorentini Theatre & Film School