Anyone can attend this school, no matter their age or their build, but more often than not it is women between 25 and 40 who sign up for classes. What motivates people who spend hours working at the ballet barre, knowing that they will never make it onto the big stage? How can you turn an “ordinary woman” into a ballerina?
To get answers to these questions, all you need to do is visit the adult ballet studio. Stereotypes about what this kind of a school should look like disappear right away: this is not your classic studio – everything is very modern. There is a cozy room with large windows, a front desk, and a screen behind which ballerinas change.
You may think that ballet is a childhood dream, an incomplete gestalt. But, it turns out, this is not always the case.
Yekaterina Sereda, 28, is a senior programming engineer. She says her husband was not crazy about her idea of going to ballet class.
“I came home from work one day and said: ‘I want to take a ballet class.’ He was very surprised and asked me about it several times, saying, ‘why is that, why do you want to do it?’”
Yekaterina concedes that her husband eventually had to take her new interest seriously – the changes for the better were obvious.
Another problem faced by adults who decide to go to ballet school is the attitude of friends, who doubt they will be able to do it.
«Many of my friends and acquaintances were skeptical about my interest. They said, ballet at your age?’ says Anastasia Goncharova, 23, an art critic. “But, later, people who had not believed in me at all completely changed their minds.” Class begins. Ballerinas stretch to music with a modern beat. It is only afterward that their instructor puts on classical music and the girls immediately become serious and focused.
You can see sweat droplets appear on their faces. From the outside, it does not seem as if anything all that strenuous is happening: nobody is pounding through miles on the treadmill, everything is going smoothly and calmly, as if in slow-motion.
“To some people ballet is a passion, to others it’s a new kind of fitness,” says ballet instructor Yekaterina Vashchenko. “I really don’t like using this word with regard to ballet classes, but that is what it is. Our classes are primarily hard work. It is not just girls standing at the barre and waving their little hands and feet around. It is very difficult, and you’re all sweaty by the middle of class. But it’s much more than fitness. There is a special culture and aesthetic to it. Girls who come to this class all look a certain way: they exercise with no make-up, their hair tied back, ballet shoes on their feet. That’s because you need to match the ideal you strive for – true ballerinas.”
A class in the ballet school is a little like the sound-check rock musicians do before a performance when they tighten the strings on the fretboard and adjust the microphone and drums. The only difference is that there will not be a concert. It will all stay in the ballet room – there will be no applause or flowers from fans.
“Why would anyone do all this, if there is no chance of going out on stage?»”
“Well, for example, a girl can gracefully pick up fallen keys in the third port de bras, if she is standing in the second position. Or else, look at me, when my hands are occupied, I use my foot to turn on the light!” laughs Yana Yanukovich, an instructor at the studio.
“Do you know what scene I have dreamed up in my head?» asks Anastasia Goncharova. «It may seem like a girlish fantasy, but, I hope, when I get married, these classes will come in very handy. I will be able to show something more than just the bride and groom’s dance.”
“Do your colleagues at work know about your hobby?” I ask Valeriya Herman, 25, a tester.
«Yes,» she says, laughing, «I can eat a lot at lunch and put it down to the fact that I have dance class and need a lot of energy!”
Yana Yanukovich confirms: “I am against diets when such serious physical exercise is involved.”
Valeriya German recalls an instance when even technical difficulties were not able to stop their class:
“There was one time when we came to the dance class and the lights were off. I went into the studio to find candles lit in there! We exercised in the dark, in winter, with candles. It was so unusual!”
By Yevgeniy Lytkin