Happy children dance at Russian School of Ballet

Ballet…more than a dance

Review by Jacky Hattingh (Biokineticist | Functional Medicine practitioner | “Ballerina”)

Life without ballet would be ‘pointeless’

The Russian School of Ballet is close to my heart for several reasons. I love ballet…I was fortunate enough to do ballet from the age of 5 to the age of 22. I also know Yana, the owner of the Russian School of Ballet, a client of mine and a dear friend. I was recently invited to observe some of the ballet girls during training, and I was truly surprised.

Ballet is synonymous with

  • Classical music
  • Flexibility
  • Girls
  • Pink
  • Pirouette
  • Plié
  • Rhythm
  • Strength

We as parents are so thrilled when our little girls want to take up ballet; I mean, what is cuter than a little girl in a tutu?  What we often forget is the lifelong benefits that our children will reap from doing ballet. I had forgotten the real values of ballet until I observed Yana’s classes. Ballet is much more than a pretty dance to classical music performed by skinny girls with gorgeous legs. The classes were conducted in an absolutely professional way, whether the girls were 3 years old or 13 years old.

The teaching of some basic movements that lay the foundations of good form in ballet was approached with the same dedication, the same perfection and the same goal in mind: whether the girls want to be professional dancers or not. Each dancer in the class got the attention, the correction and the encouragement she needed. The exercises were not just the plié’s, the positions of the feet and the arms as we know ballet, the exercises included carefully thought through movement patterns, muscle activation patterns, exercising these movements off their feet in order to perfect the movement first, before trying it on their feet where it requires a lot more control. Exercises that were included, for the youngest to the more advanced dancers, were to improve posture, core stability, strength and flexibility – it doesn’t look like dancing, but it is all aimed at improving the art of ballet – perfecting those turnouts, the straight backs and the perfect “pointe”. It was a ballet class that I have never experienced in all my 17 years of ballet.

The ballet I observed was about

  • Beautiful postures
  • Discipline
  • Getting in touch with your body, learning to appreciate the possibilities
  • Improving confidence
  • Learning control
  • Structure
  • Planning
  • Perceptual development
  • Using your imagination

You see if you look beyond the physical and apply these things to everyday life, you are getting far more than a good workout. You are preparing your pretty little ballerina for life.

I am a biokineticist – dealing with low muscle tone, poor postures, structural collapse, etc. and a mother, and I see what children are exposed to and the era our children are growing up in, and the lack of physical activities and the constant entertainment our children demand from screens and how this destroys their imagination, their daydreams, their discipline and perseverance.

But saying all of this, I believe that this passion for the discipline, the dance, and the dancer is not possible without a teacher that is absolutely dedicated. I appreciated that when I sat watching those little 2-3-year-olds, their attention span the length of a ballet shoe, yet they were participating, trying to point and playing along the whole 45 min.

If you have someone as dedicated as Yana, thinking up playful ways to prepare their bodies for the demands of a prima ballerina (even if that is not their ambition, in some way, the same principles apply) working for months choreographing the dances for each age group for the concert and then working through some nights to have costumes and tutus ready, then you can only but love ballet!

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