Four years ago, myself and my business partner (but more importantly, best friend!), Dominique, created a dance fitness programme called Flowetic. After playing around with variants of words that might aptly describe the class, we decided to steer clear of anything that was directly associated with the word ‘ballet’ …for a number of reasons.
Asked to describe the first image that comes into your head when you hear the word ‘ballet’ and you might conjure up a row of identically dressed ballerinas in tutus, a dancer defying gravity in a split leap across a stage, or perhaps a dancer balancing, as if by magic, on the tips of her toes. For you and ballet, the reality may be:
- You would rather wear a fluorescent shell suit than don white Lycra of any description, let alone a tutu.
- The only time you ever really defied gravity (inside your mind) was when you and Adam Smith decided to try the Dirty Dancing lift after a few glasses of wine one night.
- Isn’t wearing heels most days torture enough?
Ballet is often seen as an art form reserved for the elite, and the dancers themselves represent a slice (excuse the pun) of this unattainable, unreachable world. In 2003, prima ballerina, Anastasia Volochkova, was famously fired from the Bolshoi Ballet for being too fat at 7 stone 12 pounds – she was 5ft 6. Many of the world’s leading ballet companies regularly feature dancers who have a dangerously low BMI that would easily put them in the underweight and malnourished bracket.
So, here we are, in the fitness world with a dance-based programme that does include elements of *ahem* ballet, as well as lyrical jazz and contemporary too. You might even see all three of these dance styles in one track. But, at any given moment, it won’t matter what specific dance style you’re doing; in the middle of a class, there’s no room for “Woah, this is ballet, I’m definitely not thin enough for this!”
Dance can often feel very exposing, but if we can try and get rid of these ever-present stereotypes and notions of perfection before we enter the studio, we stand a much better chance of getting out of our heads and into the class, both mentally and physically.
And after you’ve finished that class, while it’s unlikely you’ll get a call from The Royal Ballet any time soon, there’s every chance you’ll become a fitter, stronger, happier version of you.