I’ve crashed a lot of barre classes in my day. I’ve watched my fair share of Dance Moms and Bunheads and So You Think You Can Dance. I even scored a role as “tin soldier” in The Nutcracker when I was six. But nothing could have prepared me for the moves required in an actual ballet class taught by an actual ballerina at one of the most famous dance centers in the world.
Last week I had an opportunity to attend a beginner ballet class at Lincoln Center taught by Emilie Gerrity, a member of the New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet. The “Glass After Class” event was held by the NYCB Young Patrons Circle as a fundraiser for the Dance Wellness Fund in conjunction with Wolffer Estate Vineyards, who provided bubbly refreshments after our workout.
The class was held in one of the practice studios in the Rose Building, which houses The School of American Ballet. It felt like walking right onto the set of Black Swan, with high ceilings, bright lights, a live pianist setting time in C minor, and barres that looked as though they’d supported hundreds of dancers through thousands of practice hours. The other attendees obviously got the memo to wear ballet gear. I, on the other hand, showed up in black yoga tights, a tank, and barre socks – not the same as ballet shoes, I’ll have you know. The gripping pads on the bottom made horrendous squeaking noises whenever I moved my feet. M’bad.
We started class with 30 minutes of exercises at the barre, learning all about the different foot positions and how to gracefully move your arms so they aren’t flailing about haphazardly. We learned how to keep our shoulders down and our neck long, our legs strong and our upper body lifted. There were combinations that seemed doable, and others that just blew right over my head. And don’t even ask me about the floor sequence that involved leaping into splits mid-air. Let’s just say I was struck with an inconsolable giggle fit before, during, and after.
Aside from picking up a few new moves, the real treat was watching Emilie. I don’t think I’ve ever been that close to a professional ballet dancer, and having a front row seat to her flexibility, grace, and technique was incredible. The leg lifts, especially, as I found myself having to grab my leg with both hands to heave and hoist it up to the barre. Not dainty. Gotta work on that.
At least I’m pretty good at sticking a landing. Ta-da!
Okay, so I’m no Misty Copeland or prima ballerina, but I had a blast pretending to be. And if this is the year of “I will what I want,” well then I want to seriously work on my flexibility. I had no idea how bad it was until this best attempt at ballet last week. Sure, I’m more of a weights and bootcamp kinda gal, but it’s always important to be able to touch your toes. So…new goal.
After class we were invited to sip and socialize while trying the latest sparkling cider from Wolffer Estate Vineyards, a sustainable vineyard located in the Hamptons. I tested the dry rosé – delicious! It had more flavor than a champagne but had all the familiar lightness and bubbles. Perfect for a holiday party or a weekend at the beach. I almost wish I had a glass before attempting to pirouette and plié.
I love the quote from legendary ballet choreographer George Balanchine they had printed on cocktail napkins. Such great advice to remember – in dance and in life: