I am writing this from Heathrow airport, waiting to board a plane to Melbourne following a week in London on a work trip. Usually I return from work trips feeling very unhealthy – too many hours sitting on planes getting no exercise and eating too frequently, then too many cooked hotel breakfasts that my body isn’t used to eating, coupled with a frustrating disruption to weekly ballet classes at Elancé Adult Ballet School. I usually return to Elancé after a few weeks of travel to find that my muscles have noticeably weakened. After a couple of months of regular classes my strength and flexibility starts to return, and then I have another work trip to disrupt things again. But ballet is universal, and with so many adult ballet studios around the world, especially in major cities like London, there is no need to have travel interrupt a ballet addiction! This time I decided to bring some ballet clothes and pluck up the courage to try some of the adult ballet studios available in London.
I started with Pineapple Dance Studios in Covent Garden, where a gentle Pilates class the morning after I arrived helped to wake up my muscles. After the class I wandered around the many studios checking out the ballet classes – from absolute beginners to professional level – and calibrating which level looked right for me. I decided to come back the next day for an Intermediate class, taught by a former Royal Ballet dancer. It was a fairly standard class, and very similar to an Elancé PL3-6 class. One major difference though was severe over-crowding. They just kept allowing more people to join the class, long after there were no spots left at the barre. With about 35 dancers in a studio about half the size of Elancé’s Mitcham studio it was a constant challenge to dodge other people’s limbs! In the centre we broke into three groups, which meant we were only dancing 1/3 of the time, and watching others 2/3 of the time. It really made me appreciate how spoiled we are at Elancé with its beautiful and spacious facilities.
So the next day I decided to try the other studio on my list, Danceworks, just off Oxford Street. It was very similar to Pineapple – a comprehensive timetable with classes of all levels every day, and many of the same teachers as Pineapple. Unfortunately the studios are also about the same size, and there were just as many students squeezed in. It was a nice class though, and I was really starting to feel the benefits of a daily class. Over the next few days I returned to Pineapple to do a daily ballet class, even having the nerve to turn up to a professional class on my final day because it was the only time that fitted around some work commitments. There were about 20 professional-looking dancers there, but the remainder of the class comprised people like myself who had reached a pretty high standard in their teenage years, but then quit to pursue other careers, raise children, etc. The teacher reassured my doubts when I asked if I could take the class despite not being a professional dancer by saying “you only need to think like a professional”. Well, my ballet brain still works pretty well, even if I can’t get my legs up near my ears anymore. It was a great class, and really inspiring watching some beautiful young dancers up close. At £8 per class it is much cheaper than paying for a ticket to see dancers like these performing at the Royal Opera House around the corner!
So for those of you who have to travel regularly for work, or even if you’re planning a holiday in the future, bring your ballet clothes and drop into an adult ballet studio. It doesn’t take long to find one on Google. Timetables are usually online and there is no need to register – just drop in. There’s nothing to be worried about, since your Elancé experience will make everything feel very familiar. I’ve already found a studio in downtown Los Angeles where I will be in May, and in New York City where I’ll be in June, both in central locations with easy access to public transport, and comprehensive timetables that mean there’s a class every day I can fit around work commitments. The beauty of ballet is its universality, and the familiarity when you take your place at the barre in any country in the world. Go and confidently explore the adult ballet studios of the world … it will keep you fit while travelling, help you meet like-minded people, and really make you appreciate how lucky we are to have such high quality teachers and spacious facilities at Elancé Adult Ballet School!
Some links to Adult Ballet Studios are below – please add more you’d like to share in the comments box so we can grow the list as a resource for everyone:
Post by Elancé student Kate