By Catherine Williams
My interest in ballet began as a very young child, however I did not continue with lessons, which was always something I regretted in my later years.
In my early 30’s, after having my second child, I joined my daughter’s local ballet school as it was offering adult evening classes. These classes were quite informal and were taught at a reasonably fast pace. Being much younger then, my body responded quickly to the ballet exercises. I lost 10kg and I regained the kind of physique that I had pre-children (but better according to my husband.) However, my dancing years faded into the abyss with some significant life changes.
At the age of 45, after having my 4th child, I once again decided to return to ballet and started to research the options. Fortunately, I discovered Elancé Adult Ballet School early in the process, but I find it ironic that at the time I had no idea what an amazing discovery this actually was! From my first phone conversation with the principal, Dianne Harrison, I got a sense that I had stumbled across something quite special. Dianne’s passion for ballet and her knowledge and experience were compelling. Once I started classes I quickly realised that I had found an absolute jewel.
It was very different returning to ballet at 45 and after having 4 children. Dianne had told me it would be a slower journey and she was right. The physical transformation is taking much longer but the journey itself is so much more satisfying. Elancé has provided me with the opportunity to start my ballet journey all over again and learn the art of ballet properly. I like the fact that adult ballet is taken very seriously at Elancé, in the sense that the approach is utterly professional. Ballet is taught through a meticulously designed curriculum by outstanding teachers who each bring a unique perspective. There are no short cuts and no precocious fancy moves. It is about developing technique from the ground up through a disciplined approach which builds on hard work and strong foundations.
The gradual progression through the different levels at Elancé is perfectly set up so that you can find your own path. I began my journey at EL2/3 level and 3 years later I am now working comfortably at EL5/PL1 level. The beauty of the way the school is structured is that a student can spend as long as they need at any level and can challenge themselves with more advanced classes if appropriate, or consolidate technique by taking a class at a lower level.
Whilst it is my goal to eventually make one of the more senior levels such as PL3, I am in no hurry and I have no desire to be at any particular level other than where I am best able to develop my technique.
What I find most satisfying about attending Elancé is that each class is different and a journey in itself. The teachers all have integrity and their own teaching style (including brand of humour). Each brings something unique to your journey. What the teachers all have in common however is a dedication to teaching ballet to the highest standard and giving of 100% of themselves in that process. They go above and beyond to reach every student and inspire you to be your best, bringing some life wisdom along the way. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced student, each class is treated as an important step in your journey.
Life can be complex for us all. My involvement as a student at Elancé has had a profound impact on me and attending the school has become an important part of my life and my family’s life. (Everyone does their bit to ensure mum gets to ballet!) My journey with Elancé keeps me focussed and centred and I am better able to embrace life’s ups and downs. As a platinum member, I relish in the possibility of being able to do unlimited classes (if only life did not get in the way!). I sincerely hope that Elancé remains a permanent institution in the world of adult ballet. In my opinion, Elancé is the model for how it should be done and I believe it would be difficult to find a better run school and standard of adult ballet programme in Australia, or dare I say, internationally.