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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adult Ballet Classes - London, UK


gav

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There are surprisingly few threads discussing adult classes in London! From the older threads, I so far know of Pineapple, Dancewell and the Central School of Ballet as far as schools, but I'd love to hear first-hand accounts of specific schools, teachers, and classes.

 

My ideal class will be 90-minutes with live accompaniment, a barre that's 40-45 minutes long, and musical, dance-y exercises. I'm able to pick up exercises quite well and would be comfortable in advanced-intermediate level classes, or even advanced classes if they still draw amateur adults.

 

I'll be in London from a Monday afternoon to a Thursday afternoon in August. I'd be happy to meet up for class with any members here; PM me if you want to show me your favourite class!

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Oh Gav, I'm so jealous! I miss London classes!

 

For Adv-Pro classes (which are fine - draw loads of amateurs from a high intermediate level on up. I'm no longer at that level, but if you learn exercises quickly no worries - I'd still go now): I loved Roland at Pineapple - great barre, great corrections, he's hilarious, and love his musicality. Also love Paul Lewis at Danceworks, although the big studio at Pineapple is better. .... If you go to either of those, let me know your thoughts!

 

I will say that she has some followers, but I do not like Zina at Danceworks... that may just be me....

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Thanks, Ami! Paul Lewis doesn't seem to be teaching at Danceworks right now, but he seems to have a class at RBS -- not sure if it's every week because the website won't load properly for me, but I'll send them an email to find out. (P.S., I'll be thinking about you when I'm there: I haven't been since you were stuck/I was almost stuck due to unpredictable forces of nature!)

 

Looking forward to hearing about others' experiences as well :)

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Central School of Ballet has "Central Nights" and they still have my favourite London teacher, Renato Paroni, teaching (he is/was Tamara Rojo's coach). He gives a basic "Beginners" class but it is extraordinary for getting you aligned & turned out. And he notices everyone & watches you like a hawk (IME). Not afraid of hands on corrections. I always walk out of his class feeling aligned & amazingly turned out.

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Thanks, Redbookish. I'm not sure if I'll want to be watched like a hawk while I'm on vacation or if I'll want a slightly more leisurely (has anyone ever described a ballet class as "leisurely" before?) experience, but I can decide that closer to the dates of my visit.

 

I just looked more carefully at the Central School of Ballet schedule. Does anyone have any feedback on Lorien Slaughter on Monday nights? Maybe an evening class would be a good way to stay awake and adjust to the time change on the day of my arrival...

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Thanks for starting this thread! I'll be also visiting London for a few days and this made me want to fit a class or two into my (already too tight) schedule. Always time for a ballet class, right...?!

 

Redbookish: The teacher you recommended at Central School of Ballet, Renato Paroni, seems to be teaching a class labeled "Beginner/General" a couple of times a week - sounds like an amazing teacher! I'd really like to try his class, but I'm wondering how the level of the class would be, as the adult classes seem to vary A LOT depending on the place. What's your experience with his class? I've been dancing around a year and half (about 4 classes/week) - do you think I can keep up :) ?

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Sorry, late back to this (at a big performance conference which is like being on another planet) -- Renato's class at Beginner level can be VERY basic, but you always learn something -- well, I do! He takes time over the basics, and I think that's very important as an adult student.

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Oh, I've heard great stuff about Renato's class too -- just could never make it. I'd suggest it though, based on the wide range of people who rave about it. Sad about Lewis - will check the danceworks schedule now....

 

Okay a lot of new teachers! I've taken Trevor St. John's class once and liked it... and have heard good things about Raymond. Have not taken any of the other adv/pro level... hmmm.

 

Roland would still be my choice at Pineapple, and I've heard many good things about Ian's class too (he seems to have one at Danceworks now too) -- I think they are good friends as well!

 

If you end up in Oxford, Susie Crow is my fave: http://www.balletinsmallspaces.co.uk/classes.html Tell her you are my friend! (pm me for name pronunciation guide....)

 

Hope this helps some more!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Lorien's classes are great although he's on holiday at the moment I think (might be back next week). Denzil, who does the same time on Tuesday evening is also fantastic: fast but very dancey and he is a wonderful teacher -- very encouraging. The class is quite advanced definitely not for a total beginner -- although he makes everyone welcome. (he teaches at Danceworks too on Friday afternoons) Paul's classes start back in September. The standard is a bit less advanced than Lorien and Denzil, although it also depends on who turns up on the particular day. Jo at Dance Attic in Fulham Broadway does lovely also very dancey classes. Tuesday and Thursday at 7.30.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, c_mare, and thank you for this first hand experience of classes and levels. I hope you stay & join in the chat and the sharing.

 

It's always helpful to know. I suspect it's a common fear amongst adult ballet students that we'll end up in a class that we can't cope with (I know that's happened to me a couple of times & it's a bit scary).

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Thanks, everyone! It now looks like my trip is shaping up to include only daytime classes, but evening class information will surely be helpful for someone else in the future. If I end up taking some classes, I'll try to come back to add my own comments to the list.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Reporting in! I managed to fit 4 different classes into my 4 days in London. Don't worry -- I did plenty of other things too, including a tonne of walking, 5 museums/galleries, a West End show and a couple dinners with friends. It helped that I was staying in a very central location...

 

 

First, I went to Ian Knowles's elementary class at Pineapple. It was a bank holiday and pouring rain all day, so the class was very, very busy -- I counted 40-something people in the room. It ran smoothly despite the crowd and was a perfectly pleasant class, including some choreography for the arms that was especially nice. The choreography included a suitable vocabulary for a mid-level class, though as with most open classes it would probably be a bit (but not overly) tricky for truly elementary-level students to pick up on their first visit.

 

Second, I went to Roland Price's advanced/professional class at Pineapple. My visit seemed to coincide with the return of numerous "out of shape" young dancers in professional training (maybe from the Royal Ballet School?) after the summer. I enjoyed the class but found the mood in the room lacked some of the levity and friendliness I'm used to in open classes. It was very business-like and my (fuzzy) recollection is that the exercises were a bit business-like too.

 

Third, I went to Danceworks and took Adam Pudney's professional class. Adam's style reminded me quite a bit of one of my teachers from home and I enjoyed it a lot. The exercises in this class had more intricate musicality and coordination at the barre, and the exercises in the centre added some unexpected changes of direction. I happen to like having some exercises that are kind of like puzzles, so this suited me well. The students in the class worked hard were but less business-like than the students in Roland's class -- making eye contact when setting up groups for the exercises in the centre and across the floor, for example, and waving each other into empty spots.

 

Finally, I went to Tory Trotter's contemporary ballet class at Pineapple. Tory brought a wonderfully productive energy to the studio, and I lucked out on a great accompanist that day. (I'm not sure if he's there all the time, or if he's as good all the time as he was that day, but it was great when I was there!) This class incorporated really fun dynamics -- contrasting quick vs. drawn-out and on-balance vs. on-the-edge of balance and upright vs. contracted movements within one exercise. I've taken classes with this kind of style before, and I find it very helpful: changing the quality of my movement occasionally, even though it's still definitely ballet, makes me more aware of what I'm doing in my regular classes. This class was no exception. I felt no pretensions in this class and students were happy to mix up groups, let someone else go ahead, etc.

 

 

A couple of general comments...

 

One is that actually paying for classes in London is confusing! I knew there were two separate fees -- one for admission to the facility (a "membership") and one for the class itself -- but every teacher handled the class fee differently: one had the accompanist collect payment in the studio before class, one collected payment in the hall before class, one collected payment after barre, and one left a cash box out and expected students to pay/make change for themselves.

 

The other is that all of these teachers gave minimal corrections. There were only a few short, general corrections (for example between the first and second time we did the adage in the centre) and there were virtually no individual corrections. I'm not referring to corrections of me in particular; I mean of anyone in the classes. I found this to be an interesting difference in class culture.

 

 

Overall, I really enjoyed myself and always like trying something new and seeing new perspectives. I really think the class I took on my first day helped me get over any potential jet lag too, getting some of the airplane stiffness out, adding some endorphins to my afternoon and helping me sleep well at night :)

 

 

Oh! Edited to add: I also stopped into the Freed shop in Covent Garden. I've worn mostly Freed (and a couple pairs of Suffolk shoes) for my intermittent pointe work, and thought I could do some fine-tuning with respect to the shoes I wear... or just buy more of the usual if those turned out to be best. The fitter seemed a bit reluctant at first to fit a self-confessed recreational adult dancer, but she treated me seriously from the start and her tone changed when she determined that, yes, I knew what I was doing and, yes, my feet are suitable for pointe. From that point on, she worked in partnership with me, taking my feedback and explaining why certain options would or wouldn't work, offering suggestions, etc. Historically on this board, there have been complaints about customer service at the Freed store, particularly from adults. But I was very happy with my fitting (walk-ins only; no appointments) and with the shoes I took home (not that I've used them in class yet).

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Gav, it sounds as though it was a wonderful trip (well, it's London, how could it not be?) and thank you so much for such a detailed and useful account if your classes. It'll be really helpful for other travellers.

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Couldn't agree more with feedback of Tory's contemporary class. I work full time so can't do it often, but have done it once and it's a wonderful class with wonderful music. I wish I could do it every day. It is true one doesn't go to Pineapple to expect much, if any, feedback -- I often feel invisble. Boys stand a better chance of being 'noticed'. But Central Nights and Danceworks are generally better for this. Daily membership is confusing and Danceworks charge a lot for peak times, which is great if you just do one class, but not so great if you just want to do a one off ballet class.

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