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Happy New Year! 

With a fresh start to 2021, we share our Ballet4lifer -of-the-month story with you.We feature "Nao"- Naoki Ishii, who is a multi-talented man, and a Ballet devotee. Thank you Nao for participating; it has been so interesting to learn of you many talents. Hopefully if/when we ever have our annual Ballet4life Dance Showcase, Nao can perform with us!

When did you start dancing?

I started “Lion Dance” about 20 years ago. I was introduced to it through Martial Arts. In year 2000 I competed in the World Lion Dance championship in Genting Malaysia as a Lion Head of the UK team. I have been performing in and outside UK since. (I am the front of the lion in the photo “Lion Dance Genting”, which I found on the internet.)

 I started ballet in 2018 and ballroom dancing in 2019.


What makes dancing so special to you?

All the dancing I took up are very special, however, ballet became very special to me during the lock down as I was able to continue online training and still made some improvement.


When did you start with Ballet4Life?

I think I did the Ballet4Life Absolute Beginners' course in January 2018. That was the very first time I attended any ballet class.


What makes B4l so special for you?

I would not have started ballet without B4L! I didn’t think I could start ballet as an adult.


Do you get to see dance performances regularly? If yes, any favourite companies, dancers, performances you have seen recently?

I have been to a showcase organised by the ballroom dance school I have been attending since Oct 19. They normally organise this every quarter. Also, I like circus and would go to see them 2-3 times a year.


What do your ballet classes do for you?

 Major benefit I had was that ballet exercise has strengthened my left ankle with the long-term injury. It also appears to have stopped the swelling of my body joints which I suffered over the past 10 years. In September 19, I lost 13kg/2 Stone in 3 weeks after suffering the worst attack to date, recovering after steroid injection. I only suffered two minor attacks since and my leg joints were no longer affected.


Do you have a favourite Ballet4Life class?

Chris's class and Jo’s class! Chris’s class for more basics which I need to spend more time. Jo’s class is a little too advanced for me but I am just hanging on!


Is there any dance style you wish to study but we do not offer presently?

I have done Acro Balancing (Please see photos) in the past and I would like to learn ballet lifts.


What do/did you do for your “day job?” and/or what were you educated/trained to do as a profession?

I am a CIMA qualified accountant.


Do you have any tips for someone wishing to start dance training as an adult?

B4L is an ideal place to start ballet if you have no prior ballet experience. My advice to new starters is to spend good time on basics.


Do you have a favourite part of class/ ballet step you love?

I like jumps! And I want to improve on the floor exercise with combination steps!


How has Covid-19 changed the way you have dance in your life?

At my level, I gain a lot more from studio class – from tutors and by watching other people. Online ballet class is still beneficial to me.


Anything else you would like to add, please feel free to do so.

Many thanks to Chris for looking after me on my first year when I struggled as my injured left ankle couldn’t cope with the exercise.

I am well impressed with ballet as there is always a good teaching structure in any class you attend and the overall standard of the ballet practitioners are so good. Those who are not practicing ballet competitively still maintain a good standard and they have strong legs with impressive calf muscles!

In martial arts and Acro balancing, I was motivated by some women (You can look up Lisa Whitmore of Apex Acrobatics) as I am not a big lad but now, I am motivated by other men. In both cases, they make me think “if they can, I should be able to”.


Thanks again Nao and happy dancing to you!

Images are copyright of Naoki or Ballet4Life. They may not be copied without permission.


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