How are you doing on this beautiful Sunday?
I just returned from an amazing weekend of ballet and floor barre workshops with Thierry Paré, an incredibly inspiring dancer and instructor. It inspired me to write (and put my feet up while I do it!)
He was hosted by Constanze, my amazing weekly ballet teacher, who’s son studies weekly with Thierry (say that 3 times fast! :0)
Have you ever tried ballet? Do/did you like it? What did you learn?
When I was very little (at about 5 years old) I took my very first ballet classes in the small town where I grew up. I loved it. I found it very difficult to do, but interesting and beautiful at the same time.
Sadly I wasn’t able to continue taking classes at that time. Nevertheless, those few lessons stayed with me throughout my life. Inspiring me in the background.
Many many years later (when I was about 27) I decided to take up ballet again as an adult beginner.
Why? I figured it might help me with belly dance, which I had been studying for a few years at that point.
Especially for Egyptian style. Get my feet sorted. For Folklore, Golden Era and Raqs Sharki. But also for props/fantasy.
And help it did.
But not right away.
It took me quite a while to get mentally and physically used to the movements. Turnout was difficult (still is! but at least now I know how to work at it :)) pliés gave me big trouble, my body was creaky, and I wasn’t really able to feel my legs, hands or feet(!) until things ‘clicked’.
It wasn’t until I found ways to activate, mobilize and release certain areas of my body (my hips and pelvis had been ‘on lock’, my right obliques had been on vacation – even while doing belly dance!) that ballet finally started to make sense.
PS: If you want to read more about my journey to getting pain free, go here:
Once I got this figured out, the magic started to happen. I was able to apply these ‘body discoveries’ to my belly dance technique. And to ballet. And then ballet technique to belly dance.
I’ve started to find my leg lines. Feel my feet. Move my arms in aesthetically more pleasing ways. Dance with my head, heart and full body. And apply this to dancing with props.
It freed me up to focus more on the music. To the movements. To make it dance.
So in a way, ballet has been my teacher. And my body has been my teacher, too.
It taught me how I was doing, both mentally and physically. Then and now.
And it is teaching me now that:
- we’ve come a long way since then
- we can keep developing our skills
- it’s never too late
- there are still many things to learn
Other things I have learned from ballet are:
- How to find a rhythm inside melodies
- How to transpose combinations from left to right (a great brain workout!)
- How to extend my energy
- How to travel smoothly on stage
- How to get used to changing directions
- How to dance with my upper body and head (Vaganova style is amazing for this!)
- How to use power and softness at the same time
- How to stay focused during a class (a biggie!)
- How to pose (also great for pictures!)
These are all skills that, in my opinion, can be applied to belly dance, to movement, and life.
So.. how about you? Have you ever studied ballet?
If not, would you like to try it? If yes, would you like try it again?
In both cases, I have good news for you 🙂
- For the ballet newbies/nostalgic: I have put together a blog article on what to expect in a typical ballet class
- And.. I have co-recorded a 45 minute ballet basics class with Miss Constanze this July, where Anna (a dance friend who teaches Zouk motion) and I assist as the (advanced and beginner respectively) ballet demo ladies 🙂
The videos are recorded in Constanze’s ballet school in Aachen – the place where I study every week.
All of these downloadable videos are part of our Dance4Children charity channel, where you can find tons of different fun cross training classes for dancers, donated to us by a team of generous online teachers.
All proceeds of videos purchased from our channel (you can donate any amount you like, starting from 5 EUR per video) go to a very good cause.
Our partner for 2020 is Caméléon Philippines, a shelter, movement and education center for young victims of sexual abuse. They do amazing work, and we have been supporting them for the past few years.
Soo.. That’s it from me (and team Dance4Children!) today 🙂
Let me know if you try out Constanze’s ballet class!
It was put together with much love by us all, and I think it is filled with nuggets of gold, as all of her classes are.
I feel very lucky in the teacher department (I study with Constanze’s daughter Giulia, too!) and I am happy and honored to share her amazing teacher skills with you all.
PS: Constanze sends many greetings to those of you who supported the MoveSpiration Online event this July, and to those of you she got to meet at one of our previous ‘3D’ events!
Wishing you an amazing rest of the weekend, and hope to see you (online or in ‘real time’) soon!
Team D4C (Coralie, Tamy, Kim/Khalida)