Thursday, 2 October 2014

New Term at Team Hud - and around the World

I may be wrong but I think there will be thousands of people around the world (if not millions) who will have been inspired to take up ballet by World Ballet Bay. Although it is always best to start as a child it is possible to start and go quite a long way as am adult. Dave Wilson is proof of that.  He started as a graduate student in the United States and I have seen him dance with Arionel Vargas and Elena Glurdjidze in Stockport and Weston Super Mare. It is also true of The Adult Beginner in Los Angeles and my learned friend The Legal Ballerina who is also in the United States. Even some professionals came into ballet late.  Matthew Bourne who established New Adventures is said to have had his first lesson in his late teens. Even I have ventured onto the stage of the Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre in Leeds before a full house and managed to avoid rotten eggs and tomatoes and I make dance teachers despair.

So where to start. Well if you are in Huddersfield you could do worse than try Team Hud in the sports hall of Huddersfield University. I reviewed it when classes began in January 2014 (see "Team Hud Adult Ballet Class" 22 Jan 2014). Yesterday was the start of the new academic year for Tam Hud with a crop of eager  young students including four blokes. It was taken by Fiona Noonan who trained and started her career in Queensland. "I can see she is a good teacher" muttered a chap from Barnsley whom I had met at Tristram Dance Studios a few weeks earlier. I had recommended Fiona's classes at Hype and the University and I was glad to see that he had followed my recommendation. "One of the best", I replied. "and believe me I have done the rounds." Fiona is now teaching two classes at Huddersfield: a beginners' class at 18:30 which I attended yesterday and an improvers' class at 19:30 which the chap from Barnsley was about to take. Both cost £5 if you are a member of the general public but students can subscribe to the gym for a few quid and take all the classes in all the sports and activities at no extra cost.  A larger but still affordable subscription is also available to the public and if you want to find out more you should call the University on 01484 422288.

A good teacher is everything and, as I told the bloke from Barnsley, Fiona us one of the very best. She is also teaching an intermediate and advanced class at Hype in Sheffield on Monday evenings for the time being. While I would not recommend an intermediate class for an absolute beginner it is good to be pushed and challenged and Fiona certainly does that. But she does it in a nice way and if you get something right you feel a real sense of achievement. She also has a wicked sense of humour. Try blogging or tweeting that you have had a hard class elsewhere and boy does she make you work the next time she sees you.

If you can't make it to Huddersfield then there are some great evening classes at Northern Ballet Academy in Leeds. I took two in the vacation and one with Chris Hinton-Lewis that I really enjoyed. My favourite class in Leeds is the Over 55 class with Annemarie Donoghue which runs on Tuesdays for improvers between 10:30 and 11:30 with an extra half hour for the keen types from 11:45 to 12:15 and Thursdays between 11:30 and 12:30 for beginners.  Annemarie is also a wonderful teacher and you can see her in action in this video with some of my friends. Not only do you get instruction from an excellent teacher but you learn in the studios of one of the world's best ballet companies - it's official Northern won one of the Taglioni awards - and you have Ollie, Elena or some other pianist tinkling away on the old Joanna.  The only drawback is that you have to be over 55 to join that class but anybody can take one of the evening classes. Not bad for £6.50 plus a £5 registration fee.

If you live in the North West KNT Danceworks run evening classes for adults in Manchester and Liverpool. They also have great teachers, Alisa and Karen, whom I can't recommend too highly.  I have only had two classes with Ailsa and one with Karen but I learned a lot from both and had a lot of fun. The students in both cities were friendly and keen to learn and we all smiled and laughed a lot afterwards.

I have had only one class in London from Adam at Pineapple but that was ace. Pineapple was recommended to me by Joanna Goodman who takes Amber's class nearly every week and she did me a real favour in recommending it. You have to take out temporary membership and then pay for the class which makes it somewhat more expensive than the classes in the North but then hey this is London. A class that I have not yet tried but would dearly love to do so is Paul Lewis's class at the Royal Ballet School. One day, perhaps, one day.

It is a long time since I last visited LA but the Adult Beginner reviews adult ballet classes there and her articles are always a good read.  Johanna writes about adult ballet in Helsinki in Pointe Til You Drop.  There are adult ballet classes everywhere - even in India. Wherever you are, enjoy yourselves and have fun.

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