Ballet, Ballroom and Body Lines

Lemington Ridley and Nejc Just illustrate use of ballet techniques to improve Latin body lines in Lemington's Masterclass, (c) Carole Edrich 2014

Lemington Ridley and Nejc Jus illustrate use of ballet techniques to improve Latin body lines in Lemington’s Masterclass, (c) Carole Edrich 2014

I learn about a huge number of workshops and master classes but rarely decide to go to one unless I already have a commission to photograph or write about it. There are too many for any other approach. This workshop held by Lemington Ridley at the Bishopsgate Institute in London last Saturday sounded particularly useful, claiming to “take you through the basic fundamentals of the ballet body and line, and show you how to use it to create an amazing Latin body line.. From fingertips to toenails, learn the positions and translate them into a rumba that is controlled, posed and graceful.” Far too tempting to miss.

It was bound to be interesting for all kinds of reasons. I bunked ballet as a child and while I’ve always considered the waltz to be a sexy form of couples dancing, have never been particularly enthusiastic about ballroom. I was interested in how a good body line felt from the point of view of a dancer and of a photographer. As I didn’t expect to be well enough to manage the entire Masterclass (chemo left me with a level of fatigue that hasn’t significantly lifted since it stopped 4 years ago) I didn’t imagine that not knowing how to rumba would be an issue. I was well enough to do all but the last 30 minutes but nonetheless was right.

The workshop exceeded my expectations. That the duo are fantastic dancers is a given, I know Lemington a little and wasn’t surprised that the workshop was articulately delivered or that he and Nejc demonstrated positions and moves clearly and fluidly. What I didn’t anticipate – and what impressed me most – was the clear and logical progression through which Lemington took the class, the way he accommodated all levels of dancer and the way he communicated aspects of ballet and ballroom dance that to him are second nature and about which he has thought long and deeply.

It was clear from his presentation that ballroom and Latin dancing is no set of boring standard moves for Lemington, no conventional ‘the leader leads and the follower follows’ but instead a cooperative venture, aspects of which reached me through just this one day’s workshop as a series of insights. I want to write about it in other dance media so won’t go into detail here. Suffice it to say that had Lemington taught me ballroom dance from the start, it’s unlikely I would ever have stopped.

Lemington Ridley and Nejc Jus illustrate use of ballet techniques to improve Latin body lines in Lemington's Masterclass, (c) Carole Edrich 2014

Lemington Ridley and Nejc Jus illustrate use of ballet techniques to improve Latin body lines in Lemington’s Masterclass, (c) Carole Edrich 2014

Lemington will be giving more Masterclasses at the Bishopsgate Institute . The next is about using rhythm and more will follow. Check the Bishopsgate Instute website for more information.