From the moment I skipped into my first ballet class, I knew it was for me. Having donned my pink leotard and skirt, got myself some perfect new shoes, and scooped my hair up into a pink scrunchied ponytail, I was ready. What followed was 45 minutes of good toes-bad toes (where we learnt how to point or flex our feet), pony gallops (because why wouldn’t this be a necessary skill for any aspiring ballerina), and sprinkling ourselves with fairy dust (an essential finishing touch to make ourselves beautiful ballet dancers). I was less than 3 years old at this point, and obviously the technique became a more advanced as I progressed through the grades with friends that I made in that very first class (but we never outgrew our love of glitter).
Of course, it wasn’t always easy. The hours of practice, the bruises, and the sore feet were just the normal schedule and the gruelling build up to exams was even more intense. Dances would be drilled until they were perfected and the blood, sweat and tears that went into the exam process were real. It was all made worth it in the end when we gained Passes, Merits or Distinctions, and were given our certificates and badges to prove it. I only achieved Distinction twice, at Pre-Primary, the first ever grade, and Grade 8, the final grade, but it seemed all the more special that I started and finished my ‘ballet experience’ this way.
The sense of community in a dance school encompassed by these showcases is one of the most memorable features for me
Our annual shows were always fun, bringing everyone from age 2 all the way through to 18 years old together to celebrate dance. All That Jazz, Chim Chim Che-ree and many other musical classics popped up frequently across the years, showcasing Ballet, Jazz, Tap and other varieties of dance in an entertaining and lively show. The sense of community in a dance school encompassed by these showcases is one of the most memorable features for me. You progress from being a little toddler led onto stage, to being the older dancer who is the leader. It’s impossible not to feel yourself grow and to know you’re a part of something special.
Around the time I went into year 7, there was suddenly a massive drop in attendance, and our class of 12 went down to just 4. Clearly entering high school meant ballet just wasn’t cool anymore. While this was a shock at the time, experiencing such an enormous change in class dynamics actually worked in our favour, as we were able to have more focused and individual coaching. After losing one more classmate, the final 3 of us continued to the (not so) bitter end, and completed our Grade 8 exam together. Although classes were still syllabus oriented and exam driven, they became increasingly more like therapy sessions as we would all moan or rant for an hour of the lesson, and then agree that we really ought to get on with the Barre exercises we contemplated at the start.
I would recommend ballet for the discipline, the posture, the grace, and the fun it brings
Being able to continue dancing at Warwick has meant so much to me. I have made so many friends through dance, had a chance to be on an exec, and kept fit while managing to avoid the gym. Whether you have been dancing your whole life or are only just starting now, I would recommend ballet for the discipline, the posture, the grace, and the fun it brings. From good toes-bad toes to Prima Ballerina level, there are so many ways to enjoy ballet, so all I would say is, keep dancing!