1st July, London, UK
Welcome to July and sorry for our radio silence! I think you can understand why we have not been blogging since C-19 hit and we went from the studio to the screens, reaching out to people all over the world. It has been quite the journey; filled with joy, anxiety, technical issues, beauty, laughter, and unprecedented ( just had to use that popular word!) amount of positive feedback and comments from our clients. This has indeed given me and the team such motivation and inspiration to deliver our online dance programme seven days a week!
Elisa Martinig is native of Bella Italia, and a confirmed dance lover, and a Ballet4lifer. She recently asked if she could submit a guest blog. Let me tell you, I could not reply fast enough with an affirmative YES PLEASE!!! Elisa is the Founder & Director of The Career Changers. Her links can be found at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!
Keep well and keep safe,
All the best,
Here is Elisa's enchanting tale of how dance wove its way into her life:
When I was ten, my grandfather asked me if I was doing any physical exercise outside school hours, and I said no. He told me that I should do some activities. So, I went home and said to my mum that I needed to do “something”. I went to do volleyball, as I always loved it. My sister, instead, went to a dance school. One of the two that there were in my 15,000 inhabitant's town. I didn't have an idea of what a dance school was, I was never taken to a dance show or ballet, so it was when I saw my sister final year’s showcase that I had my epiphany.
I saw all these beautiful dancers on stage, with costumes, lights, and the music and felt something I never felt before. I remember thinking, “Next year I am going to be on that stage."
A few months later, with the start of the new academic year, I was enrolled. I was eleven that at the time was considered "old" for ballet, so I was admitted to a Jazz Dance Class. The other "problem" was that I was "too tall" for my age, so I ended up with very cools late teens or twenty-something girls.
If I think about the concept of ballet and who could access to dance classes, then I found it unbelievable. I believe in many places, this attitude still exists, the vision that you can only dance if you have the body type or talent to become a prima ballerina.
I continued dancing through my life, starting ballet later on, when I found a more open-minded school and I never stopped if not for some time. I took some graded examination, I did showcases – even if I suffer from terrible performance anxiety – and for this reason, I hated it. When I moved to London, I found, in many instances but not always, a more inclusive dance world, where dance is made accessible to everyone at every age. As here I started to work in the corporate world, keeping up with dance classes was sometimes a mission impossible.
The gym has never done it for me, I needed to dance. I took some dance-related qualifications in my spare time, as a personal interest that I wanted to carry on. Still, the biggest challenge was to find high-quality dance classes for adults, in my area, where you feel a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, that could also fit with a full-time job.
I remembered hearing Ballet4Life in my local area for a while before I decided to give it a go. I believe that happened three or four years ago. Once I started, I remembered many times thinking; why didn't I try it earlier? The first time I attended the Intermediate/Advanced Ballet Class run by Beatrice Ghezzi. I was worried if I am level was going to be good enough, if the teacher would be friendly and how the overall atmosphere would be. I think I was recently put off by a very aggressive ballet teacher that shouted at me because I could not get some steps right, and I never went back.
I know that for many in the ballet world that is still the way to teach, but I don't believe that approach can really encourage students of any age to get better. It is also a form of respect. Especially when being a grown-up, you measure yourself with so many things. At Ballet4Life all of the teachers are very positive and encouraging, and this is not something that you will find everywhere.
Ballet is an ideal, an ambition to perfection, that can barely be reached by the best dancers in the world. It is never an art that is achieved fully, but its practice is healing. I may start a class with no energy and low mood, and end it up with a feeling of ecstasy, especially after the Grand Allegro.
Music is a significant factor in the way I feel. I think, based on our personalities, we can "vibrate" more or less with certain tunes. At the barre I love tangos, for battements fondu for example. Tango shifts me immediately, it's like something switches on inside of me. In the centre I love waltzes. I have a weakness for Johann Strauss music, especially during the winter and Christmas period. In Europe, the traditional New Year's Concert in Vienna is broadcasted every year and is part of the popular culture.
This year, the COVID-19, had an impact on the ability to attend dance classes in person. Ballet4Life has created in no time a consistent and high-quality online dance programme that has definitely contributed to my physical and mental wellbeing. Sometimes we forget what the things that can make us feel better are, and it is essential to keep track on that so that we don't feel affected too much by events that we can't control. Dance in my life has always had a special place. It can ground me when everything around is moving, it can give my joy when life is not that easy, and it can make me feel home when if I feel unsettled.
As someone said, "Wherever you are in the world when you are at the ballet barre (even in the kitchen!) you can feel at home”. And this is especially true for an ex-pat like me.
Whether you have been dancing all your life or if you have always dreamt of doing it, keep dancing or give it a go. Ballet4Life is the ideal place to do so, especially now with the fantastic online dance classes programme.
Photos: copyright Donna Schoenherr- Wittering sunset 2019, Chiswick sky 2020, Int/Adv Balletlife classes 2019/ 2020