Beginners ballet, bring your balls.

What? Absolute Beginners Ballet Class

Where? The Central School of Ballet, near Farringdon tube station.

Ballet class

Students taking class at The Central School of Ballet

I dabbled in ballet when I was little, but I’d never progressed much beyond nice toe naughty toe. My favorite childhood birthday was still when I turned 5 and was surprised with a ballerina birthday cake. I received the whole ballerina outfit to boot, pastel practice skirt and cross over ‘cardi’. I was delighted.

Ballet shoes, pointe shoes, satin slippers

As I left Farringdon tube station I was trepidatious. Unlike spin classes and circuits there is something unabashedly girlish about swapping your trainers for salmon coloured slippers. Yes most of the current Victoria Secret models are avid proponents of ‘Ballet Beautiful’. The exponentially trendy fitness fad led by Mary Helen Bowers – Prima ballerina, famous for training Natalie Portman for Black Swan. But what about the rest of us in the intermediary stages between ‘ballet beautiful’ and blubbery bounce? How would the ballet studio take to us?

I reached my destination tucked away down a little street and made my way up to the studio filled with women stretching at the delightfully but oddly naval metal barre in hushed silence. This was a serious place, for serious dancers their stoney focus and leotards told me. Sporting some running leggings with neon pink flashed down the side I looked very out of place, even though as the course catalogue stated this was definitely ‘Absolute Beginners Ballet’. Then Crocodile Dundee walked in. ‘Who here has never done ballet before?’ I raised my hand immediately, I wasn’t about to set up ANY expectations.

Tutu

The beauty and elegance ballet brings to mind.

Stretching

How we would like to imagine ourselves warming up. The real artists at work.

Class began, and tried to copy the women around me as they moved seamlessly through the motions. Then before I knew it Crocodile Dundee was man handling me and giving me far too many corrections for my confused neural pathways to translate. ‘No! bum in’, ‘No! Head up!’,’Chest back’, in my desperation to get it right so he’d move onto the next person I only faintly registered the awkwardness of having my breasts forcefully flattened by a stranger. Soon I felt like morph being moulded after Tony Hart had received one too many telesales calls. I don’t know if it made it better or worse that he went about poking and prodding everyone this way. Crocodile Dundee. Not Tony Hart.

It continued in this way. ‘Glissade, Tondu, Glissade, Plie

About 20 minutes into the class Dundee suddenly roared ‘Hey you! LANCE ARMSTRONG!’

I was relieved to discover it wasn’t me he was yelling at. Nor had the Tour de France cyclist snuck into the studio. It was a tiny petite dot of a lady in the corner. Whose outfit said class regular but whose facial expression now said ‘Help!’

‘I’m gunna call you Lance from now on. Because you’re cheating, you cheater! That’s not a tondu that’s a glissade you cheater!’

And he did. Repeatedly. ‘Oi, Lance what you doing?!’

Needless to say her tondu is now flawless.

After class in the changing room I thought the artificially serene posture of my class mates might relax. But no, these were serious women. Serious about their dancing and not to be distracted from their dancing aspirations with idle chit chat and cameraderie!

Map London

A very thorough and challenging technical class. If you want to get the authentic ballet school experience with optional low self-esteem, you are in the right place. It will hurt to get up from chairs and descend stairs for days as you will have used a whole set of muscles to other exercise engages. Good for building muscle and character.

Info:

£8 per class, drop in no advance booking. http://www.centralschoolofballet.co.uk/aectimetable.php

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