Ballet has a tendency to be misconstrued by the public due to preconceived notions on the matter. Many people have this idea that ballet is meant for a specific group of people that meet certain prerequisites: tall, skinny and flexible, just to name a few. However, this is simply not true, anyone can take up ballet. If this statement isn’t enough to convince you to relinquish some of these ‘prerequisites’ consider Maria Kochetkova, a professional dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, who stands barely over five feet. Of course, she probably wasn’t born with her flexibility and petite figure. Years and years and years of training and diet helped sculpt her figure and achieve her seemingly effortless artistry when dancing. But since the majority of the public isn’t trying to pursue a professional career in ballet, there is no need to worry about physique. Cue sighs of relief
Now, where to take some ballet classes? Pacific Northwest Ballet, resident company of Seattle, offers some great classes in the morning and evening for convenience. PNB caters to those who have minimal to more advanced experience and has classes offered at two locations (Seattle and Bellevue), which can make it more convenient for those further away from the Seattle Centre. PNB offers beginning, intermediate and advanced level classes. The beginning class although slow, doesn’t cater to those who are absolute beginners. They will not go over vocabulary and positioning but it is a great way to assimilate into the class. The classes offered are group oriented, however, the instructors will correct individuals as the class progresses. Don’t let the first class be discouraging, the more classes you take the quicker you will see improvement, it’s all about muscle memory.
For those concerned about ‘not fitting in’ the majority of the people who attend class are working professional adults, so no need to be intimidated by the 17 year olds at the barre, they most likely will not be there. Leigh, an RN and Paramedic, takes classes regularly and states: “I feel comfortable with everyone in class. We all have similarities, stress from work, bills, and how much longer our old bodies can keep up in ballet,” she laughs, “but I love it! It’s my getaway from work.” There is nothing to prove in class only something to be shared by everyone.
Men are also encouraged to partake in dance. No, it is not just for women. Contrary to popular belief, ballet requires as much athleticism as most sports and creates great camaraderie. As far as attire goes, anything comfortable will work. However, the reason tights, leotards, or something form fitting is usually worn during class is so the individual and the instructor are aware of body placement and alignment, this way the instructor can give proper corrections and the individual gets the most out of the exercise.