Adult ballet classes: pre-class rituals

06 July 2011 | By Hila Shachar

Behind Ballet blogger Hila Shachar is taking – and loving – adult ballet classes. In her last post, she talked about why she does it, what was hard, and her favourite thing about it. Now she tells us how she likes to approach a class.

One of the most common questions I’m asked by friends about my ballet classes is what I actually do to prepare. It’s really not a big mystery, and yet, the more I hear this question, the more I realise that pre-class rituals form an important aspect of the whole experience. There are a few simple things I like to do to ready myself for a class.

If, like me, you work at a desk all day, more often than not your body will be completely stiff. I find that I need at least 10-15 minutes of movement before each class to ease all my ‘kinks’ and stiffness.

I have a simple routine of running on the same spot for a few minutes to get my heart pumping and the blood circulating. This can do wonders if the only strenuous exercise you’ve undertaken all day is moving a piece of paper from one side of your desk to the next. On that note, I like to bend my fingers and wriggle my toes for a minute or two as well – you’d be surprised how good this makes you feel, and it makes you pay more attention to how they move.

Drink water
This sounds simple, but a lot of people just don’t do it and it’s one of the best ways to prepare. Even if you’re not thirsty try to drink as much water as you can before a class, especially if you happen to be a coffee addict like me. Coffee and other caffeinated drinks tend to dehydrate your body and that combined with sweating and exercise can make you feel quite ill. I’ve often finished classes with terrible headaches because I didn’t drink enough water beforehand, so I always stock up on a new bottle of water before class.

Take off your makeup
Really, do it, nobody will care what you look like in class. You’re there to enjoy yourself and get some exercise, this is not Centre Stage. Besides the fact that dripping makeup is a tad ghoulish, I also find the ritual of washing my face and taking off any makeup I have on refreshing and reinvigorating, preparing me mentally for the class ahead.

Clear your mind
There is nothing worse than arriving at a ballet class frazzled and stressed. It’s impossible to concentrate on anything in the class when your mind is busy and mentally ticking off a ‘to-do’ list. So I like to sit for a minute or two before class, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. This is a small gesture, but it’s incredibly effective in clearing my mind. Remember that ballet exercises your mind as well as your body, so try to mentally unwind in the same way you physically prepare.

Watch out for Hila’s next reflection on her classes

Don’t miss our Fifteen Minutes of Fame workshop for adults on Saturday 3 September at 5pm at the Arts Centre, State Theatre. Participants will learn an excerpt from Ninette de Valois’ Checkmate. All welcome – whether you attend adult ballet classes or not!