Sunday, 14 June 2015

"I felt elongated and taller and stronger too"

Chris HintonLewis as Heathcliff in Wurthering 

Last week I attended two beginners' classes at Northern Ballet.

The first was promoted as  "a one off extra ballet beginners drop in class with Chris Hinton Lewis from 19:00-20:15" on Monday evening.  The second was Annemarie Donoghue's over 55 class between 11:30 and 12:30 on Thursday morning.

I thoroughly enjoyed both classes and I felt that I had learnt so much.

By the time I attended my second class I had invested in some "skins" or "thins" as I have often heard them referred to. "Ballet slippers" to you and me.  I have to say that it is not easy for me to get used to them as I have always danced with bare feet in Indian dance, contemporary and even ballet up to now.

All classes start with a warm-up. It is so much better when there is a pianist to set the mood. Actually, I have to say that out of all the ballet classes that I have taken so far, those with a pianist are best. The whole feel of the studio sets me up to work at my best. It really stretches me.  It motivates me at least to try each move correctly.  It helps me concentrate on the instructions which is vital to avoid damaging the body as well as executing the stages of each move correctly.

So what did I enjoy about Chris's class? Well, firstly, his smile, his positivity and his encouragement. Secondly his way of engaging with the class which consisted of students who had reached different levels making sure that we were all doing the moves correctly as best we could. I liked his big sense of humour and the grace with which he directed both the pianist and students.

I had attended Annemarie's class once before (see Coming Back to Ballet 13 March 2015). As on that occasion I found her very welcoming and the class very friendly, I don't think I have ever been in a class with such nice people. But Annemarie is also very professional. She concentrates on the work in hand. No chitchat about children, chocolate or other distractions. She seems very conscious of safety and takes every reasonable precaution. Her students adore her and she brings out the best in them.

After the class Annemarie told me about the Ichino method in which technique all the teachers of Northern Ballet had been trained.  This is very systematic and it works very well for me.  In a previous ballet class I had been shown a pirouette and was told to get on with it. I like to break down moves into stages in order to master it. So that each stage is imprinted in my mind and in turn flows through my body. There is no point in trying to turn clockwise on your left leg with your foot on demi pointe and spotting until you have mastered balancing on one leg in retiré, For some of us that does not come easily particularly as we get older.

I felt elongated and taller after I had finished both classes and stronger too. Most of all I felt confident. I believed for this time I could actually change my posture and body alignment through regularly attending classes at this standard.

Will keep you posted with my progress.

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