Through Lady’s recommendation, I got an invite last month to try out a ballet class at James and Alex Dance Studios. I was over the moon when i received the invite and I really looked forward to it. You see, my first love is ballet more than anything else. Yes, more than traveling even. I started dancing at the age of 5 years old until I was about 18 but I had to stop to finish my college degree. Since then, I have been dancing on and off. Even after arriving here in Dubai, I was always on the lookout for ballet classes which is quite rare in the city or even if there is, the schedule doesn’t really fit my work schedule or maybe the location of the studio is not very accessible for me – so again, it will still be an on and off thing. So last week, I deliberately took an off on a Wednesday to attend this invite of a ballet class try out.
James and Alex Dance Studios.
I have heard about this company for quite some time but I just know the studio that they have in Palm Jumeirah, at that time they were only offering salsa. I didn’t know that they have now opened a studio in Concord Tower in Media City with a lot of dance classes to offer. One of which is of course an adult ballet class.
Why take an adult ballet class?
More than making you fit, ballet has a lot of other benefits that you probably don’t know. Better posture, grace, poise, coordination, flexibility and balance are just a few which are probably the most obvious for all those who know what ballet is. It does sculpt and tone your muscles as well and strengthens your core. It also improves mental function as it requires discipline and focus. You will learn a sequence of ballet movements in each of the class that you’ll be attending which will sharpen your memory and develop your movement coordination. To sum it all up – ballet is a total body and mind workout. For me personally, it’s also a way to release my stress. 🙂
The studio is amazing, one of the best (biggest) that I have ever been in for a ballet class here in Dubai, which to be very honest is only a handful. I love the fact that the mirror runs parallel to the floor covering the whole area of the studio. Mirror is very important, at least for me as I’d like to see myself every time while doing the series of steps – it makes you see what you’re doing wrong and you’ll be able to improve it.
She is a darling, very patient and provides a hands-on approach to each of her students. Her positive personality creates a great atmosphere inside the studio which is very important specially for beginners – I personally wouldn’t want to be stressed out during a ballet class by having a very strict teacher. I’m not attending the class to become a professional ballerina after all, I’m doing it only as a form exercise.
The ballet teacher is Aimée Després from Canada. She trained in classical and neoclassical ballet at the Goh Ballet Academy in Vancouver, one of the most prestigious dance schools in Canada. Aimée later joined the Source Dance Company training extensively in contemporary, modern, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and house. Dance has taken Aimée across the world and she has choreographed several works including the promo commercial for ‘So You Think You Can Dance Canada’.
The beginner class lasts for an hour. Aimée provided a series of steps which everyone can follow, based of course on the ballet skills everyone in the class had before. She asked the newcomers at the beginning of the class if we have had previous ballet experiences and luckily, all of us had. The way she conducted the class was at par to the level that I can follow, along with everyone else in the class.
A ballet class starts with barre exercises, all the students during this part of the class will be performing a series of steps with a support of the barre. The instructor will of course show the series of steps for you first without the music and she’ll make sure that everyone can follow it. You will then repeat the steps with the music. Barre exercises are very important for beginner and advanced ballet dancers as it will help you properly align your body with the support of a barre. The steps may seem repetitive but all these steps will help you for the next parts of the class.
After the barre exercises comes the center work which is my absolute favorite. Center work is similar to barre exercises but without the support of a barre this time. I love this part of a ballet class as it normally involves port de bras which is a series of graceful arm and leg movements. Aimée did a very nice sequence of steps during our class but she did it part by part so it will be easier for us to memorize the steps. At the end of the center work, we had to perform all parts of it into a complete dance sequence. I LOVE IT! We did all of the leg movements on the floor which is great as I’m not yet ready for leg extensions at that time but for a more advanced class – a lot of leg extensions will usually be involved in the center work which of course will require for the dancers to concentrate on the lines their body is forming along with balance, coordination, focus and control.
After the adagios (slow movements) comes the allegro which is faster and livelier steps. This part of the class usually involves turns and jumps, which I hate. Lol. I’m not very good with turns and my jumps are not high enough for my height. Again, Aimée gave us simple corner work steps which only included one turn. So yay for me! Even then, I wasn’t able to perform it perfectly.
The last part of the class is stretching to cool down and the reverence. Reverence is a way of the ballet dancers to pay respect to the teacher which of course is the conclusion of the class.
I loved it! I absolutely enjoyed Aimée’s ballet class. She’s fantastic in the way that she conducted the class. I would really love to go back for another class however, the timing is too early for me. I was advised though that they are working on a later ballet timings so I’m really looking forward to it. I’d definitely recommend it for beginner and advanced ballet dancers.
Beginners/Improvers: Wednesday 6 – 7pm
Intermediates: Wednesday 6 – 8pm (6pm beginner class is a pre-requisite)
Beginners/Improvers: Saturday 1030 – 1130am
Drop-in classes = AED 65 for 1 hr class, AED 95 for 2 hr class
Packages for drop-in classes: (Can be used for contemporary, ballet and hip hop classes)
12 hours of classes = AED 720 (*expires 5 months from activation date)
24 hours of classes = AED 1,375 (*expires 10 months from activation date)
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