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Ballet Talk for Dancers

query for the Londoners

Guest beckster

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Guest beckster

After Christmas I'll be moving to the big smoke and of course I want to take advantage of all the opportunities open to me for ballet. I figure that even if I can't find RAD classes, I'll have two years of open classes to make me more rounded, and I can go back to syllabus stuff later.


I've found classes available at lots of places - Basement, Pineapple, Islington Arts (can't find a website for this but assume it still exists), Central School, Danceworks, etc. and of course I'll be doing the tour to find which ones I like. I'd love some prior knowledge though, so if anyone has any favourite or unfavourite classes/teachers please do post. Also if anyone can tell me in advance whether there are any classes which are just "keep fit" so I can avoid them, that would be great.


And while I'm here, has anyone heard of the Chelsea Ballet company? It seems quite unique in the UK in being an amateur ballet company and has adult dancers. The website is http://www.stage.demon.co.uk .

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Hi Beckster


While I'm not a Londoner, I've heard great things about Renato Peroni's classes, especially at Central School of Ballet (he also teaches at Danceworks). Cygnet2 attends these classes and is a big fan, and I think Kate B attends also, as did Zarafa. I'm sure one of these three will chime in soon enough, but hope that gives you something to get started with!

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Hi! Sorry not to reply on this sooner - I have been doing lots of international travel recently (darrrhling- far less glamorous than it sounds. Mostly sitting in airports cursing airlines!) and so haven't had much surf time.


Definitely try Renato Paroni's class - I genuinely believe he is the best teacher in London, and I have tried almost of all of them (Susan Zalcman, Teresa Kelsey, Ian Knowles etc etc etc). In fact, if you read the latest programmes from the Royal Ballet, you will see that Tamara Rojo now says that she completed her training with David Howard and Renato Paroni. Not on website yet, but was in her bio in Mayerling and Swan Lake programmes.


He teaches an intermediate class for adults on Tuesday and Thursday evenings (currently at 7pm) at Central School of Ballet in Farringdon, a very basic class (well below your ability level, I think Beckster, but I find it useful to do it - it's almost like doing pilates) on Friday at 6pm at the Marylebone Dance Studio in Lisson Grove, and two Sunday classes at Danceworks - basic at 1pm. advanced at 2:30pm. Prices for class betwee 5 to 7 pounds depending on the studio.


Renato also teaches professional classes during the day - 10am on Wednesday, Thursday at 3pm and Friday at 10am at Danceworks in Balderton Street.


He is definitely not RAD - he does a Maggie Black-esque barre, and a Balanchine inspired centre, all with the Paroni edge to them! Still, if it is good enough for Tamara, I reckon its good enough for most of us!!! Lots of professional students and dancers take class, even the evening ones after they have been performing/rehearsing all day.


That said, if you want an RAD style class, there are some around, but personally I enjoy the challenge of an unset class. I guess it depends on how you want to progress your training.


I am not in London at the moment, as I am on secondment in another country - but if you want any other information on teachers/where studios are/ etc, either pm me or post again!


Enjoy your move to London - I had a fabulous year there!

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Hi Beckster, I think it's great you've decided to make the move to London. you will hopefully enjoy it as much as I have done, but I expect you will quickly start wishing there were more hours in the day and more days in the week in order to make the most of it!


I couldn't possibly add more to what Zarafa's said about Renato's classes - I think they are excellent, really interesting and hard work, you do feel a million dollars afterwards and want to try all the things you've learnt for the rest of the time you're not at his classes.


I would also add that if you're more into the RAD style I'd recommend Teresa Kelsey - I think she is fab - a really traditionally English teacher who won't miss a thing. She gives lots of corrections, and is a real stickler for perfection.


I'm working 12-hour days at work just now and also trying to do my essays for my masters, so you won't be surprised to hear that I've been missing a lot of classes and can't forsee a time I will be able to go to some! However, it will be on my new year's resoluitions list, so if you fancy meeting up at some point in 2003 for ballet or a chat about London and how it's going please feel free to pm me.


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Guest beckster

Wow, thanks for that info. I'm going to look at flats this week, it's all very exciting and I'm really looking forward to the move.


Kate -where does Theresa Kelsey teach?


Zarafa (or anyone!) - What does a "maggie black" barre mean? and what can I expect from a balanchine centre? I know balanchine is big into very fast petit allegro, but what else?


Also, once I've got my strength back, do any of these classes include pointe?



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Hi Beckster,


Sorry for the "jargon"! Maggie Black was a teacher in NY, who was famous for teaching a very body-aware style of teaching, with a lot of work in first and second positions. From what I understand, Tina Bernal in NY now teaches a similar style. Obviously the way Renato works is very much his own method, but it is more influenced towards this angle than other forms.


Essentially if the barre is 50 mins, then 25 mins or so will be in first position, with many tendus, degages and rond de jambes. Plies will begin in second, there are seldomly grand plie in fifth during the initial plie section (although occasionally in the later adage at the barre), never in fourth. Lots of cambres forward and backward, and to the side in order to stretch the latimus dorsi. There is a lot of foot articulation as well, with feet being flexed, and working through demi pointe when standing in first. (So, for instance, starting in parallel: parallel, plie, stretch, turn out to first, half point with outside leg, point, half point, first, repeat) Emphasis is on turn out and alignment, with a correctly pulled up body.


The barre work would then move into fifth position, again with tendus, and degages before moving on to adage, grand battements, frappes etc.


In terms of centre, the Balanchine technique is a trademark protected technique, and Renato is not teaching it exactly, as he includes Bournonville-style beats occasionally, and Paris Opera exercises quite often. But his teaching is influenced by it, with the Balanchine arabesque positions, and head/arm positions being used (difficult to describe these in words), pirouettes are from a lunged fourth with arabesque arm etc. In intermediate classes, petit allegro is rarely extremely fast, but the technique is developed to allow you to do so later, and professional classes frequently have rapid petit allegro.


There is no "pointe" section of the class per se, but obviously if you are able to take the class en pointe, you could do so. Most of the professionals take the centre en pointe in professional class, and a few in the intermediate class. If you need to be eased back into pointe (you said you needed your strength increased) you could think of taking the basic Friday class en pointe, as centre is very simple with passe releves, single pirouettes etc.


Susan Zalcman does teach a pointe class after her Saturday class in Pineapple. I do not wish to go into my opinion of this in detail here, but suffice to say that after observing it, I decided never to attend it on the grounds of protecting my body.


I should be back in London in January - good luck flat hunting, it took me a while last time, and I have to do it all again in January, so you have my sympathies!

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Hello again,


Teresa Kelsey teaches several classes at Danceworks. I particularly liked her 'elementary' level classes, but she does teach more advanced and easier classes.


I don't know about pointe classes in London - I would second what Zarafa's just said about Susan Zalcmann's (although this was after her general class at Urdang on Wednesdays.) If you're really confident you could do normal classes in your pointe shoes as some people do at Urdang with the other teachers, but I wouldn't unless you're really happy dancing like this. I'm not. I'd say save it until you're in a syllabus class, where it's safer.

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I don't know if this helps, but I go to a class taught by Marguerite Porter (ex RB principal). It's three times a week in Richmond, and it's in the mornings (Mon/Wed/Fri). I really like it: while it's a very mixed ability class, it attracts a number of professionals and Marguerite is an absolutely fantastic teacher.


It really depends where in London you live. If you're not living in southwest or west London and not free in the mornings, it is not really an option. But if you do, and you are, then it's worth thinking about.

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Guest beckster

Thanks Brendan, but I won't be and I'm not! :D Aiming to live in North/East London and have full-time job so ... thanks anyway.


And big cheers to kate and zarafa for the advice. I'm still hoping to find a syllabus class somewhere. I don't have the abilities or confidence to do pointe outside of a fully-supervised pointe class, so that will have to wait.

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Guest beckster

Has anyone been to the London Studio Centre? They have evening "access" courses which are pay-termly. In my mind this implies that they are a bit more serious than the average drop-in class. This includes an RAD grade 6/adult class - seems like just my kind of thing ;). Also it is very near my work :) Any feedback?

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Hi Beckster


I would recommend that in your first term you stick to open classes that you don't have to pay for in blocks - you don't know how many classes you're going to make it to. I don't know what your job's going to be like, but if it's full time you might be working late, etc., so until you know what your life's like I wouldn't sign up for anything you might not be able to get to every time. London's like that. (Transport can be troublesome, too...)

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Guest beckster

Good advice Kate. I think I'd be too late to sign up for next term anyway, but they do have a single class price so I could have a couple of trial lessons next term and also see how my work goes, and then sign up for the term after if I think it will work for me. The good thing is that the adult classes aren't till 8pm which means work shouldn't be a problem.

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  • 1 month later...
Guest cygnet2

Hi Beckster!

I guess you're here by now - I've been inactive on this forum for a while, so only just read that you're looking for classes. I hope you've found something suitable. If you do come to Renato's classes at all, I hope to meet you! I'm a regular, though since my work has no pattern I just go to whichever class/es suit me in any particular week! Good luck!

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest beckster

I've tried my first Renato Paroni class, Cygnet2 - I was there last night (Thursday). I enjoyed it a lot, and I'm definitely going to go again. I'm also going to try some classes at Danceworks next week and see if I want to join (there's half-price membership at the moment). So far, living in London is going well!

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Guest BilboBaggins

I'm afraid I'm asking a slightly different question, but I have a thirteen year old daughter who will be visiting with me in the U.K. this summer ... I live in East Kent, but would be interested in finding for her a summer intensive or (failing that) classes she could take while here.


Her school teaches Vaganova and she's interesting in classes within that technique, rather than broadening her exposure to others ... can anyone give me advice or guidance on where to look?


Thanks in advance,



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