It was December 2013. I was not in a happy place – getting over an emotionally draining relationship had been far more difficult than I’d expected and I knew I had to find something that would nourish my soul in order to help me heal.
So, there I was, bored at work one day, Googling beginner dance classes for adults, when Elancé Adult Ballet popped up. I clicked on the link to the website and started reading about their philosophy, teachers and classes. Five minutes later I was nervously dialling the school’s number. The calm, friendly voice of Dianne Harrison, Principal, greeted me on the other end. I nervously explained I was interested in taking classes but I was old (mid 30s!), unfit (thanks to months of comfort eating following the breakup of my relationship) and had zero ballet training.
Dianne suggested I enrol in a class for absolute beginners. She told me I could try the first class and decide afterwards whether I would like to continue. She assured me I would be dancing with students of all ages and body shapes, all of them beginners. So I enrolled and eagerly awaited the start of the new term.
Fast forward to 13 January 2014, the start of Term 1. One day away from my very first class I was starting to feel very nervous. I was having second thoughts. Being a perfectionist I was concerned about my excess weight and lack of flexibility. I pictured myself trying to keep up, red-faced in a class full of skinny, double-jointed, tutu-wearing ballerinas, twirling and spinning and leaping about like gazelles. I couldn’t do this. I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t ready.
I emailed the studio asking for any last minute tips on how I could improve my flexibility overnight (yeah…as if!). Kate Fleming, Elancé teacher, sent me a lovely reply reassuring me that there would be no expectations of me to do the splits, or demonstrate perfect turnout; I wouldn’t even have to look anorexic! Such a relief! Kate explained that at absolute beginner level we would progress at a gentle pace, learning the very basics of ballet, such as positions, correct body alignment and ballet terminology.
The next evening, I entered the studio feeling excited and nervous, in equal measures. A flurry of butterflies in my stomach, slightly sweaty hands clutching my bag but as soon I walked into reception, I relaxed. Everyone was friendly, helpful and the staff efficiently guided all nervous beginners to the warm up area. As I sat down on the floor and tentatively started doing a few stretches I looked around me and saw women (and a couple of men) of all ages, from 20s right through to 60s, most of them wearing comfortable leggings and t-shirts….and not a single anorexic gazelle in sight!
I loved my first class – it was fun and gentle and enjoyable and completely at my level. There was nothing I couldn’t do. I was instantly hooked; there was no doubt in my mind I had found the right place where I could pursue my new-found passion for ballet.
14 January 2014 – I will remember my first ballet class forever because it was the start of something special that has brought so much joy into my life I only wish I’d found it sooner.
BY EMY V – ELANCÉ AMBASSADOR