Monday 13 April 2015

Floating on a ballet high

For the last three days I have been ballet-ing it up in South West London. Five-ish hours a day of classes and rehearsals, followed by a mini performance. And I loved it.

The London Amateur Ballet company was set up by Tom Lincar-Boulton in 2012. It is pretty unique in that it provides the opportunity for adults to learn real ballet repertoire and perform. They run weekly classes at a range of levels giving everyone a chance to experience something that is usually reserved for the best of the best.

My first experience was this weekend's Spring Intensive course. I was pretty nervous (which is silly considering that I was paying to enjoy three days of ballet) and completely overpacked my bags (prepared for every eventuality!).

The course was focused on the ballet La Fille Mal Gardée, a light-hearted ballet about a village girl falling in love. I learnt two pieces of choreography: a group village girls dance and a solo which involved waving a ribbon around. It was all a bit cheesy, giggly and lots of fun.

New things I experienced this weekend:
  • barre a terre (floor barre) - this basically consists of doing many repetitions of "simple" ballet exercises whilst sitting and lying on the floor. It works muscles that (a) you didn't know you had, and (b) are really important to develop strength in ballet.
  • pilates - yes, I've somehow managed to never do a pilates class (although I do have Darcy Bussel's Pilates for Ballet DVD, but I don't think that counts!).
  • ballet class led by a current Royal Ballet first soloist (Ricardo Cervera). He was charming, very patient, explained everything really clearly and gave useful corrections. A fantastic experience in itself.
  • performing ballet in front of an audience. The last time I did this I was about 16 years old. I'd like to think this performance was better, but having seen clips from the video I'm not sure that's the case...

I also got to meet a huge number of lovely people. Despite the "snooty ballerina" stereotype, I experienced was a really friendly bunch who all had ballet in common. I chatted to everyone, including a retired psychotherapist, visitors from Sweden (who had flown over specially), dance students, an engineer, mums, all sorts! I may have already forgotten half their names, but I can't wait to see them again in a class or next intensive.

I embraced everything - the legwarmers, the tutus and the sweatiness of wearing dance gear all day! For three days I was a dancer.

As you can probably tell, a full day at work today coupled with tiredness and achy muscles hasn't dampened my spirits. Ballet is fab!

Proper photos to follow, but for now here's a few iphone snaps to satisfy your curiousity:

Ribbon Dance

Tutus! Rehearsing the village girls section.

A smiley, sweaty selfie post-performance!

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