Yesterday, I went to my first Silver Swans ballet class, for over-55 beginners. You may well ask, what on earth is going on? What is it all about? Have I ever done such a thing before, and most important, will I be able to do it?
|All photos are from the internet – the RAD site|
The Silver Swans programme is an initiative from the Royal Academy of Dance to encoourage older people to take up ballet – it has all sorts of health benefits including maintaining/improving posture, balance, strength, mobility and cognitive functioning. I discover that the Silver Swans ‘Ambassador’ is Angela Rippon. Well, she may be 74 but she is thinner and fitter than I have ever been. Here is a piece about her ballet dancing. Still, Battleaxe has lsot a good deal of weight since the gall-bladder business a couple of years ago. Keeping it off is a problem….
|There’s Angela Rippon at the back…|
Philosopher and I do Pilates every week – we have a lovely teacher, Eugenie, who comes to the house. She charges very reasonably and we get her undivided attention – no skulking at the back of the class. Through Pilates I have discovered that I am relatively supple and have reasonable balance. I did ballet when I was a very little girl in Ireland – up until I was about 7 – I remember doing a show in Dublin. I was one of the three little kittens who had lost their mittens….
Philosopher and I actually met for the first time taking our respective little girls to ballet class in Birmingham – the class yesterday brought it all back. The pink ballet shoes, the little chiffon skirts, the fluffy wrap-around pink cardigans….. I can still remember some of the rum-te-tum tunes the lady played on the piano as we parents sat at the back of the hall.
So, yesterday – on my own – I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go with me, I rolled up to the Greek Orthodox church hall in St Leonards. Some other women were waiting in the hallway. ‘You looked scared stiff when you walked in the door’, one said. Most seemed around my age – some looked thinner and fitter but that was probably my anxiety – and some did have previous dance experience – tap dancing, jazz dancing, stage dancing etc…. They seemed a pleasant and positive group and none of us knew any of the others, so we were all new girls together. we had come from all over the local area – Bexhill, Crowhurst, Westfield…
Our teacher, Verity is a very cheerful and enthusiastic young woman. She has her own dance school in Hastings, Buzz Academy, and has been specially trained to deliver the Silver Swans programme. Ours is the first Silver Swans programme in the area, and we are likely to attract quite a lot of media attention. I’m telling you now, Battleaxe is no shrinking violet but doing ballet on the telly is not going to be me… There were ten of us yesterday with up to another five joining next time.
We all got into a circle and got stuck in straight away. In no time, we were into first, second and third positions with feet and arms, tendu, demi-plie, grand plie….. Battleaxe knees were a little creaky and balancing on the Battleaxe toes was difficult, but I think I managed. Then we combined steps into little routines. That is what I’m going to find the hardest – when I get anxious I can scarcely tell left from right. However, it was liberating and soothing to do the movements to music, and I did enjoy it – even though I didn’t quite pull off the smiling and effortless-looking ballet look… Battleaxe tends to look like a scowly thunderclap when tackling something challenging. More news as I progress – or not….
I’ll have to buy some ballet shoes now. Do I need one of those little skirts? Not yet. Shame, getting the outfit together for these things is half the pleasure.
Do I have fantasies of this? No, thank goodness. I never did, even when I was little. I preferred ponies.