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Ballet4Lifer of the month - September


We welcome Inés to take the Ballet4Lifer spotlight this month, the month we ease into a new season. What impresses us so much about her is her artistry and musicality. Now that we learn more about her background, it certainly makes sense! 

 

A bit about
Hi! I’m Inés, and I’m honoured to be the Ballet4Lifer of this month. Before I get stuck into each question, just a little about me: I’m half English and half Spanish and have been in London for about two years now! I moved in September 2020 looking for a change in my career and life and here we are, it’s been a couple of years full of learning and I couldn’t be happier to have made that change.
Living in London had been a big item on my to-do list but before that, when I was little, I’d come to England in the summer to visit my mum’s family - they were the best 3 weeks ever! My mum is from Yorkshire and the family owns a farm so a big chunk of those 3 weeks was spent in blue overalls and wellies. My sister and I loved feeding the calves and the lambs, going on very bumpy rides across the fields on the quad with our grandad and playing cricket with our cousin! We especially loved it when all the cousins (5 of us, all around the same age) stayed at our grandparents house at the same time. It was so fun!



On the Farm with Mum and Grandad 
 
When did you start dancing?
If we want to be precise, I actually started dancing around the age of 2! One day while my dad stopped at a bar to get a coffee I was sitting on a stool and saw that there was some flamenco on the TV. Apparently I just stood up and started mimicking what the dancer was doing! Around the same age, my parents were listening to classical music at home and I just started twirling and swaying around the room.
 
I started dancing when my family and I moved to a small village about an hour away from Madrid, Torrelaguna. We moved because my dad needed to be closer to the city for some parts of his job, but also because he needed a big space to set up his workshop: he is a harpsichord maker and they’re big instruments so they take up quite a bit of space! With him making instruments for a living, music has always been a huge part of my life - from pounding a mini harpsichord as a baby to “helping” my dad in his workshop! (see photo) . And so when my parents found out there was a little music school in the village they enrolled my sister and me straight away.


With her father and the harpsichords 



 We could only start dancing at the age of 7. Before that we would go to ‘Music and Movement’ classes, where we’d start to familiarise ourselves with the different instruments, the sound they make and how we could accompany that with movement. When we turned 7 we could join the dance classes so I joined ballet, jazz and flamenco as well as starting to play the violin!
 
From then on, my afternoons as a kid would consist of class after class of music, dancing, orchestra and as soon as April came: rehearsals for the end of year musical! We did all sorts: Cats, Fame, Marenostrum…and a few others. It was intense and it often meant that I had to stay up late doing my homework but I loved it.




Behind her sister, rehearsing for Fame 
 
But as the years passed, the first rush of the music school wilted and as more and more classes stopped happening, so did the dance classes. I was 16-17 at the time and that’s when I stopped dancing for a few years. I took it back up around the age of 20-21, rediscovered my passion for it and haven’t stopped since!
 
 
What makes dancing so special to you?
I think a big element of it is that dancing is its own language, no matter what kind of dancing you’re doing. Entire stories can be told through dance and it’s incredibly powerful. So much emotion can be contained in a single hand or head gesture that I find it really moving.
 
Another thing that makes it so special is the freedom that comes with movement. When you really know the music and the steps you can just let go and enjoy the freedom of what you’re doing.
 
But mostly. I think that for me, when I’m in class, I’m in my own safe space. I know that the time I spend in class is mine and mine only and I really connect with myself.
 
When did you start with Ballet4Life?
I did my first class at B4L around November 2020. I moved to the UK from Spain in September 2020 - yup,  in the middle of the pandemic - and I hadn’t done an in -person class since March that year. How I missed them! Of course, the several lock downs during those months meant that I didn’t actually start going more regularly until May/June 2021.
Since it had been a while I wanted to get back to basics, regain strength and get my body used again to the exercise. Mark and Jo’s classes were a wonder for that and I started feeling like myself again.
 
What makes B4l so special for you?
Funnily enough, B4L is really similar to the dance school I went to in Madrid. All the students have one thing in common: we’re all adults and share the same passion for ballet/dancing. It’s really fun to discover what my fellow classmates do for a living or how/when they got into dancing.
 
Each class is a beautiful safe space where we can just enjoy doing what we love so much. And the teachers are equally as wonderful, pushing us to do more but taking into consideration whatever limitations or difficulties we may have, all while making us have the best of times.
 
Do you get to see dance performances regularly? If yes, any favourite companies, dancers, performances you have seen recently?
I  wish I could see more live performances, but whenever I can I just go to the cinema! The Royal Ballet and the Bolshoi broadcast some of their performances and it’s amazing to see the dancers up close, like in a film. However the last live performance I saw was Don Quijote, by the Birmingham Ballet, under the creative direction of Carlos Acosta - I couldn’t stop smiling, it was so so good!
 
I’d say that my favourite classical ballets would be Swan Lake, Don Quijote and specially La Bayadére

 - I was over the moon when I got to perform Nikiya’s solo at our festival! Two other performances that really struck me and have stayed with me since are The Royal Ballet’s interpretation of Infra, an album by Max Richter, and Akram Khan’s version of Giselle. They’re contemporary, incredibly raw and moving and can't wait to see them again.
 
What do your ballet classes do for you?
Apart from keeping me fit - it’s the best kind of exercise! - they keep me close to myself.
2018 was a very rough year, things in my personal life and both my mental and physical health weren’t great. I was in Madrid back then and my ballet classes were the only thing that kept me from falling into what could have been a very bad depression. They were a constant thing in my life when I felt very lost and they helped me stay afloat.
It was then that my dad brought me to London for a weekend to see The Royal Ballet, my godfather had composed a piece for them (The unknown soldier) and he’d given us tickets. This is when I saw Infra and it was also the moment I realised I was unhappy in Madrid and wanted to move to London (which had actually been in my plans since I was 12, but sometimes life makes us postpone certain things).
I guess what I mean to say is that my classes make me happy, they lift me up when I’m having a bad day and keep me connected to myself.
 
Do you have a favourite Ballet4Life class?
I love the Saturday morning classes with Beatrice and the Tuesday Repertoire classes with Jo couldn't make me happier. It’s amazing to learn the variations from ballets that we’ve watched time and time again and to realise that we can do them!


Post-Saturday morning class



Dress Rehearsal for the Fundraiser Showcase- La Bayadére


 
Is there any dance style you wish to study but we do not offer presently?
I would absolutely love to learn to dance with a partner and learn some of the great pas de deux, but for that we need male dancers. Maybe contemporary on pointe?
 
What do/did you do for your “day job?” and/or what were you educated/trained to do as a profession?
I studied design at university and specialised in Graphic Design. Back in Madrid I worked in advertising and social media, and as fun as it may sound, it wasn’t not for me. So when I moved to London I was looking for a career change and so I joined a small design studio based in Chiswick called Barlow & Co. and now I design…..wine labels!
I love what I do and it’s certainly been a learning curve these past 2 years. Especially because I now focus more on how the labels print, the papers, the colours, the special finishes…It’s great to work with physical things and it’s so rewarding to see your work in the supermarket!
 
Do you have any tips for someone wishing to start dance training as an adult?
Do it! It may feel daunting at the beginning, but one you start to know your own body and what you can do with it it’s amazing. You’ll also meet some amazing people along the way!
 
Do you have a favourite part of class/ ballet step you love?
I really like the barre, settling into the class, finding your alignment and balance and preparing for the exercises that will come later in the centre.


At the Barre

 
How did Covid-19 change the way you have dance in your life?
Covid really made me stop dancing, forcefully. I tried joining online classes but it really wasn’t the same and I struggled to keep motivated. In London I didn’t really have the space to do online so I had about a year long break from dancing, which made getting back into it quite hard at the beginning if I’m honest, but so worth it.
 
If you do our Pointe Work classes, do you have anything to share about your experience?
Learning to dance on pointe has only increased my respect and admiration for ballerinas. It is hard work and sometimes it feels as if you don’t know what your feet are doing, but the feeling of finding your balance on pointe is amazing. Tapping into that freedom I mentioned earlier!
Finding a pair of pointe shoes that are a good fit for you / your feet can be quite the journey but once you’ve found them you’ll never let them go.


In Pointe Class 


All images copyright Ballet4Life and Inés.

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