Continuing our Mum’s Bucket List series, today Penny’s friend Sarah Handley shares how she found joy in rediscovering a hobby from her childhood via an adult ballet class. You can find Sarah on Instagram.
What do you as a parent do to get time out? This was the question Penny put to me this week. A good question that awhile ago I would have struggled to answer. I get lots of pleasure from many activities with my family including mountain biking, fell climbing. We have lots of fun together. But where do I go for time out for me? At the end of last year I discovered just what I needed to carve out a bit of ‘me’ time. I joined an adult ballet class that had just been started up by an amazing lady who has danced as a professional ballerina and is now committed to teaching.
I love to dance. I attended classical ballet classes from an early age but at some point it became part of who I am. I didn’t realise how much I needed to dance until I left home for University and I couldn’t attend classes any more. Ballet is a strictly disciplined form of dance but its elegance disguises the strength and stamina required to perform. It is easy to lose oneself in the movement and the performance.
I had kept my ballet shoes safely stored away for 20 years and occasionally I would get them out as the musty smell of leather and dusty floorboards brought back happy memories. At my first Adult class it was interesting to see how much my body remembered and one word from our teacher and my legs and arms responded! It was great to see so many ladies (and a couple of men) who were all enjoying dancing together of various ages and degrees of experience. It’s a very friendly class, I suspect it’s because we all just love to dance. The steps in classical ballet are straightforward but you can work harder and harder each week to finely tune each move towards perfection. It looks so graceful but after a class every muscle feels stretched. The port de bras (French for ‘carriage of the arms’) of classical ballet is meant to be a graceful and harmonious accent to the movements of the legs. It’s also a fabulous exercise, as good as lifting weights! It stretches your back to open your body up from that hunched over the desk posture which is the scourge of modern working.
This week we started working on a repertoire from Swan Lake Act II ‘The Entrance of the Swans’ (look it up on YouTube). It requires the class to work together and know their place on the stage (our stage is upstairs at the Poppy and Pint Pub!). It is challenging and hard work but lots of fun. We all loved being the swans and putting the steps we’ve learnt together to perform for our imaginary audience. We don’t look anything like the dancers in the picture – we’re all wobbly and uncoordinated but we can imagine!
For me, this is a great escape once a week to be that little girl who wanted to join the Royal Ballet. I sometimes say that in parallel universe my parents took me for an audition as my dance teacher urged and in that world I had a different life travelling the world. I am the perfect height for the corp de ballet at 5ft 2 inches! My dance teacher used to shake her head and say she just couldn’t see me sat behind a desk in an office job. I don’t have any regrets and it’s just a fanciful day dream but I enjoy my weekly escape to another life.
I attend ‘Lady Bay Ballet’ in Nottingham run by Katie Fazakerley (www.ladybayballet.com)
Image credits – Picture of class at Lady Bay Ballet from website.
Picture of ‘Entrance of the Swans, Swan Lake Act II’ – New York City ballet
Picture of my pointe shoes from Instagram.