So that we can ignore the actual prejudices inherent in this piece, I will say right now: I love ballet.
I studied it for 15 years, starting when I was three years old, and continued until I was 18 and headed off for college—and from there, I took sporadic classes whenever I could find them, all the while hoping I would find an adult class that I could continue with indefinitely.
So when Hillsborough Patch editor Eileen Oldfield and I decided to take a ballet class for Patch Takes it Off, I was beyond ecstatic.
We decided to take a class with David Kieffer at the Dance Connection on Jill Court in Hillsborough.
And for an almost two-hour class, I was thrilled, excited and left with not a care in a world while I embraced my ballet roots.
We started the class with basic barre exercises, doing pliés, tendus, ronde de jambs and grand battements [that’s right, I still remember my French terms both from my years of ballet and five years of French classes].
Then we moved to the center of the floor for adagio exercises, pirouettes and jumps.
As the class began to wind down after an hour, Kieffer said he was going to continue with some more advanced exercises, and the option was there to stay or not. Being the brave soul that I am, I was determined to stay [as did Eileen and the rest of my classmates]. We did turns across the floor and jumps, and I was proud to both remember the steps and be able to keep up with one other member of the class who has clearly been dancing more recently than I have.
But—with a few moments of being out-of-breath—I made it through the class, both proud of myself for what I felt I had accomplished and relaxed and calm because, well, a dance class is really all it takes to make me feel that way.
I call it the best exercise for my body and mind because not only does it work my muscles and burn calories, but it helps me forget about any other stresses in my life while I’m focusing on the steps and the artistic movement of the dance.
[It’s a little over-the-top, I know, but I watched the movie “Billy Elliot” once and there is a point where the ballet teacher asks Billy why he wants to dance—I remember I was about to scream out my own answer in the middle of the theater until he said that it’s just part of his life. I couldn’t agree more.]
The other thing I really liked about this class was the age and skill range. It was a small class, but we had people in their 20s and much older, including one older man who seemed to be just starting out. It was great to see all different kinds of people enjoying a love of dance.
And I know I have a history of dance, and maybe I’m a little bit biased—but I can’t wait to take a ballet class again.