Editor’s Note: The team here at StyleBlueprint Louisville has decided that we want to challenge ourselves to get out of our usual comfort zones. That means we’re trying new things and shaking things up a bit in 2017, especially when it comes to our workout routines. This month Elizabeth Gerber has taken on the challenge by returning to ballet after several years away from the barre. She jumped in with classes for adults at The Louisville Ballet School and wrote about her experience for us. Watch for more of these stories in the coming months as we explore Louisville’s fun fitness options. Stay tuned!
Louisville City Editor, StyleBlueprint
I’ve been a dancer my entire life. My mom enrolled me in classes at age 2 to cure my painful shyness. Little did she know she had just crowned herself a “Dance Mom” for the next 16 years. My biggest dance dream came true when I made the Assumption High School dance team, and all those years spent perfecting and performing routines culminated with a state championship win. After wrapping up my high school dance dream with a bang, I decided to step away and focus instead on studying journalism and political science at the University of Georgia.
Last month I decided it was time to come out of “retirement” and return to the dance floor. I made a quick trip to Kinney Dancewear for new ballet shoes, tied my hair up in a bun, and waltzed back into the studio. And, yes, I was more than a little nervous! Here’s my experience with getting back to ballet at Louisville Ballet School’s mind. body. balance. classes for adults.
Class #1: Beginning/Intermediate Ballet
You’d think that with my dance experience I wouldn’t be nervous about taking a beginning ballet class. Nope. There I was, sitting in my car fighting butterflies just before class started. This wasn’t the first time I felt this way before taking a dance class, but once I took my place at the barre and the music began, my body fell back into routine. I was honestly surprised I remembered the vocabulary and what to do with my body. What wasn’t surprising was that my flexibility was all but gone. The next morning I expected my legs to be extremely sore, but it felt like any other day after I hit the gym. Maybe I was more in shape than I thought (PHEW)!
I sat down with Brienne Keehner, Louisville Ballet School instructor and former Louisville Ballet dancer, to find out more about Louisville Ballet School’s adult-focused mind. body. balance. program.
“As a teacher, I want the time that they’re here to be a break from everything else in their life,” Brienne says of her students. “Your mind is so occupied trying to create that connection with your body and the music that you forget the stuff you brought in, forget your to-do list, forget some of your stress and just move.”
The mind. body. balance. program is designed for new students who need to learn the basic steps and terminology in an Intro to Ballet class before progressing into more intensive classes once they feel comfortable.
“Instead of focusing on every little aspect of ballet being perfect in my class, I’d rather you feel like you’re moving, being artistic and expressing yourself instead of worrying about your technique being prim, proper and perfect the entire time,” Brienne says.
The Louisville Ballet School offers more than just ballet for adults. Class options include tap, modern dance, yoga and Pilates classes through mind. body. balance. “It can be flexible to your schedule,” Brienne explains. “We have a lot of people who are super-committed and who come a lot, so they’ll get those 10 punch cards and just go through them in a couple weeks.”
Drop into any mind. body. balance. class for $15, but once you’re committed, class cards are your best bet, with four classes for $55 or 10 classes for $130.
“You can really cross-train and experience a mix of different styles of dancing,” Brienne adds. “If you’re really looking to change your alignment and strengthen your core, you can do that in Pilates. They go hand in hand to keep you really feeling your best in class and in your daily life too.”
Class #2: Intermediate Ballet
Walking into a higher level than my first ballet class would normally call for my expert procrastination skills, but instead of sitting in my car until the last minute, I walked into the studio with confidence and took my place at the barre. The butterflies returned when I realized I wasn’t taking class with beginners anymore. Nope, the dancers stretching next to me had definitely been training. Here’s little ol’ me in her second ballet class. Welp, here goes nothing I guess …
This class was more challenging, not necessarily in the choreography or flexibility required, but in the pace of the class. It quickly became obvious that it had been a while since I’d regularly taken class when I ended up behind the music and constantly on the wrong foot. I couldn’t help but laugh. This class had me feeling like one giant, goofy noodle, but I was still having fun. It was silly to feel nervous or beat myself up for messing up because, after all, the steps are still in my muscle memory. I’m just a little rusty, and I didn’t let that get in my way of enjoying class.
I spoke with Brienne after class and she gave me the biggest boost in confidence when she said, “You look great.” She advised me that the biggest thing for anyone getting back into dance or taking their first class is to not feel pressure that you aren’t keeping up or learning fast enough. As long as you feel good and are enjoying yourself, that’s all that matters.
Class #3: Beginning/Intermediate Ballet
The third class I took was the hardest of the three. I was used to the flow of class again, but I walked out of this class out of breath. I had forgotten how demanding ballet can be on your muscles and how exhausting it can be for your stamina.
The instructor threw in a variety of steps to varying tempos at both the barre and at center. The choreography was simple, yet challenging. I felt comfortable walking into the studio and taking my place at the barre. Part of this feeling came from seeing familiar faces in class, but also because I was finally back in my happy place. It didn’t matter that I messed up the steps once or twice in the center or fell behind the music on a barre combination. I was dancing and creating art again, and that’s all that mattered in that moment.
After all was said and done, I’m glad I got over those initial reservations about getting back into dance. I’m not as good as I once was, but that doesn’t really matter. I’m not chasing a title or trophy, but rather simply dancing for the joy it brings me.
If you’re feeling inspired to step outside of gym and try another fun way to get moving, Elizabeth loved her experience with The Louisville Ballet School, but we also recommend Safiyyah Dance, B.You Fitness or Suspend to really shake things up!
StyleBlueprint is a great resource for local workout spots and healthy restaurants! Visit the SB Guide or download the SB App to start exploring our favorite local businesses that specialize in health and fitness!