Monday, 28 April 2014

For Emma

Lord Street, Southport                                               Source Wikipedia

Sitting next to me in the Atkinson for Ballet Theatre UK's performance of The Little Mermaid on Saturday was a young lady called Emma. She was with several friends from work.

"Wasn't it lovely" she remarked as the applause died away.
"It certainly was" I agreed.
"Do you see a lot of ballet" she asked.
"Quite a few" I replied. "I keep a blog called Terpsichore" I added, writing down the URL on a scrap of paper.
"Oh I am only just getting into ballet,"
"Did you study dance as a child?" I asked,
"Not really" she said. "I would love to do it now but I suppose it is too late".
"It's never too late" said I. "According to the BBC there's a student in Scotland aged 102."
I told her about my classes at Leeds and Huddersfield and adult ballet in general,
"You're so lucky to live near Leeds" replied Emma but I know of nothing like that round here."
"There almost certainly are adult ballet classes in Southport" I countered "and there will certainly be one somewhere in Merseyside."
"Tell you what" I added "if you visit my blog I'll give you a few tips in an article just for you."

So, Emma, this article is for you.

First up, the main dance authority for the UK is the Royal Academy of Dance. Anybody can join as a friend for £19 and get all sorts of benefits and concessions. They have a searchable database of qualified teachers all over England and you can see who works in or near Southport. Another good source of information is North West Dance.    It is then worth googling "ADULT", "BALLET" and "SOUTHPORT" and cross-referencing any dance schools that come up on then search with the RAD teachers and North West Dance activities. When you have found some schools and teachers you like give them a bell or send then an email. See whether any of them will take an absolute beginner and then take it from there.

Second up, don't spend too much money at first. Nobody expects you to wear expensive shoes or dance wear at this stage. Most teachers will let you turn up to your first class in t-shirt and leggings and dance in bare feet. When you get a bit more settled you can invest in a leotard and soft toed shoes. You don't need to worry about pointes at this stage and it may be that you never do. I buy my shoes from Frederick Freeds in London. Would you believe that they still had a record of my size from when I first started dancing? You teacher will tell you all about how to break in a pair of shoes gently.

Next, I would see as much professional ballet on the stage as possible for it is amazing what you can learn from watching dancers.  Ballet Black, one of my very favourite companies, is coming to the Atkinson on  the 22 May. If there are any tickets left go grab yourself one. I will be there. I saw their show in  London in  February and it was outstanding. Birmingham Royal Ballet is coming to The Lowry in September with Beauty and the Beast. English National Ballet is bringing Swan Lake to Liverpool in November. Northern Ballet is coming to Manchester with Cinderella also in November.

If you want to discuss any aspect of ballet you should join BalletcoForum. You will there discover a remarkable lady who lives not too far away from you with an encyclopaedic knowledge and at least as great a passion for ballet as mine. And there are many others there who can guide and encourage you in your appreciation of ballet.  Finally, I am by no means the only blogger. My own favourite is Dave Tries Ballet. He started in his twenties and he is now dancing with stars of English National Ballet.  Follow his journey from his first class to where he is now in just a few short years. You might also learn some maths from him too.

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