Thursday, 22 October 2015
Dance Studio Leeds Beginners' Ballet Class
Embedded under a standard YouTube Licence
This video for Dance Studio Leeds shows every style of dance except ballet but the Dance Studio Leeds actually does offer adult ballet. Katie teaches beginners on Monday morning and evening and Nathalie the advanced class on Friday evenings. As I am trying to compile a guide to all the adult ballet classes in and around Holmfirth I turned up to Katie's evening class last Monday.
Dance Studio Leeds is in Mill 6 of a converted mill complex just north of Leeds city centre known as Mabgate Mills. It is not very far from Quarry Hill but it is not easy to find at night. I circumnavigated the block twice before I found the entrance to a courtyard surrounded by 19th century buildings. One of the advantages of that studio is that you can park in the courtyard free of charge whereas you have to fork out at least £2 to park anywhere else in central Leeds between 18:00 and 22:00.
The studios are on the first floor and compared to many other dance studios that I have visited in my time it is the lap of luxury. It is bright, well decorated and comfortably furnished and there is more than enough room to swing a cheetah never mind a cat in the changing room. My friend, Beverley, who attends the advanced class on Friday tells me that there is complimentary tea and coffee on offer but I did not discover that on Monday.
I arrived at the Studios after listening to The Archers in my motor and sat down on an easy chair near one of the studios. A dance class was taking place and students seemed to be having a lot of fun. A lady entered shortly the waiting area afterwards and asked me whether I was waiting for ballet. I said I was and she asked me whether this was my first class. I replied that it was but I added that I had done two years ballet with Northern Ballet's Over 55 class and that I had also had a lot of classes with a teacher in Huddersfield who had danced with the Queensland Ballet. The lady welcomed me to the class, showed me the changing area and told me that our fellow students were a very friendly, welcoming group which I found out to be the case.
Katie arrived a few minutes later and introduced herself to me and some other new students. She asked me whether I had done any ballet before and I said that I had. At 19:45 we entered the studio and took our places by the barre. The room had a mirror at front and was very well lit and ventilated. It was also quite warm which was hardly surprising given the energy that must have been discharged in the dance class. There was room for 3 on each side of each travelling barre. Katie placed me and the other newbies between experienced students.
We started with a gentle warm-up facing the barre followed by pliés and tendus. We skipped glissés but I soon found out why. Katie got us to do échappés facing the barre which of course incorporate that movement. Katie had several other exercises which were new to me including a fondu combined with a plié which I found very difficult. Katie had a word for everybody - encouragement here, a correction there - almost like a private lesson.
We had a few minutes to catch our breath and take a swig of water and then we started on the adagio. Katie concentrated on arms movements first and then some simple steps and turns. The movement was quite lovely.
Pirouettes followed for which Katie divided us into three groups. One group which included me practised our retirés en plat. Another group did the same exercise on demi. A few of us tried full turns. As we found our balance and got more confidence we tried complete turns. Even I managed one or two.
The next session included jumps of various kinds - simple sautés to start, then échappés and changements - then a variation if the temps levés in groups of three and finally a hop on one leg with the other extended. As you can imagine I got into one hell of a pickle.
Before we knew it it was 21:30. The class was advertised to end at 21:15 but Katie gave us an extra 15 minutes because we were enjoying ourselves so much. At the end of the class she gave us a very thorough cool down. Almost as through as the ones that Jane Tucker gave us at the end of a day's dancing in The Swan Lake intensive. There was no reverance as such because we were on the floor but Katie wished us all a very pleasant evening and we clapped her enthusiastically. I thanked Katie for the class as I always do, She was pleased I enjoyed it and invited me to come again which I certainly will.
There were a lot of pluses about this class. Obviously a good teacher and a very civilized environment, easy parking and a friendly crowd. The only minuses were that the rooms were not very large - two temps levés and we were almost across the studio - there was no pianist and we had to use travelling barres. Minor niggles really.
I wouldn't dare risk the advanced class but Beverley says that's good too, There is a good spread of classes and I shall try some of the other genres by and by.