Work out, dance out: ballet meets fitness

All throughout the first lockdown in 2020, I have taken classes online – mainly to have a reason to get up from my desk once per day whilst working from home. When the UK went into lockdown in March last year, online fitness classes were an entirely new thing. Virtual dance classes certainly weren’t an option. Barre classes were the next best option. When we finally went back to the studio (and the stage) in September, I realized how beneficial that regular exercise had been for my dance abilities.

Now, the UK is back in lockdown and a few things have changed: In 2021, there is plenty of choice for dance based online classes. My regular dance company, Mamparadance, offers them next to the barre classes and also the well-known Pineapple Dance Studios (that I used to frequent in my lunchbreaks in that other life where I worked from an office in central London) have streaming technology put into their studios. These days, if I wanted to, I could be pirouetting through my living room all day long.

Rhea Sheedy at the studio during an online class/ © Ballet Fusion

When dance melts with fitness

For the new year, I tried a taster session of Ballet Fusion – mainly to see how others are doing classes that combine dance with fitness. It is not so different from Barre classes. It focuses a little more on traditional ballet though. Whereas Barre is suitable for everyone, Ballet Fusion requires some knowledge about ballet technique. I was a little surprised that the instructor, Rhea, did not ask about my previous experience at the beginning of the class. I was fine though. I know that my port de bras and my développés aren’t perfect, but at least I know in which direction the parts of my body should face or where to place my feet for a second position. A great advantage of studio classes is that the instructor can give corrections on posture and technique. That isn’t always possible in an online class – depending on your camera angle. Rhea teaches from a bright and friendly room and she is well visible at all times which makes it easy to follow the exercises.

If I had to compare this class to others I have taken in the past, I would place it in between the ballet beginner classes at Pineapple and the Barre classes with Mamparadance. It had many elements of a ballet class, but felt a little lighter. There was less choreography to remember and less focus on technique. In terms of fitness, the Barre classes are more challenging (I can feel a Barre class the next day). That said, Ballet Fusion was fun and a nice dance-based workout after a day in front of the laptop.