After getting over the ache of my first proper ballet class, I decide to mix up my training a bit and book myself into a Sunday session at the Shoreditch girls’ dance school of choice, Frame (moveyourframe.com).
In the past year, they have been feeling the Black Swan effect – in fact, director Pip Black tells me that they have even started a Black Swan barre classes to the soundtrack for the film, which is packed out. I am not quite brave enough to sign up for that yet, but I do want to try out the Frame Method class, which is a mixture of pilates, barre work and light weights that, if I am completely honest, I only manage around half of before I have to have a little lie down (luckily, we were on the mats doing sit ups, and I was at the back, so I don’t think anyone noticed).
It suddenly becomes clear why my plies were less than perfect, so I signed up for more of these to improve my core strength plus I promised to come back for another of their signature classes, Frame Barre, which is a mix of cardio and ballet. The next day, yet again, I ache – this time, it’s my abs which are complaining – but it’s in a good way I think. I tell Pip and she suggests I come along for a private lesson. I jump at the chance - and then I realise that then I can’t hide at the back and give up half-way through the sit ups. Log on next week to see how I get on – and how my next class at Central (centralschoolofballet.co.uk) goes. Oh, and I might even give a proper pilates class a go…Will it be tutu much (sorry, couldn’t resist…).
It’s the outfits that do it for me, to be honest. I can take or leave trainers, baggy yoga pants make me break out in a cold sweat and don’t even talk to me about tennis whites. But ballet, to me, conjures up images of scoop-back leotards, opaque tights, off-the-shoulder sweatshirts and grey marl legwarmers. Just call me Jennifer Grey.
I’ll admit, at my first Absolute Beginner’s class, at the London’s Central School of Ballet (centralschoolofballet.co.uk) I’m in bobbly leggings, an ancient T-shirt and socks with holes in the toes, but then as I can’t even touch my own toes, I think I have to work my way up to the tutu and pointe shoes.
Perhaps ballet wasn’t the most natural choice for me – I find dance classes intimidating, I’m not the most co-ordinated lady you’ll ever meet and the idea of looking at myself in a mirror while I practise my ungainly pliés for 90 minutes strikes fear into my soul. But for me, that’s the point of this challenge. And while the first class certainly isn’t easy – even though they are basically very small foot and arm movements performed while holding onto the barre – the fact you have to concentrate on every single movement is oddly calming, and it has clearly worked muscles that have lain dormant for decades as the next day I ache. Really, really ache.
The teacher says that by the end of the six months I should be proficient in the basic barre and arm positions and move up to the next level of class and be allowed to wear a nice little ballet cardigan and my hair in a neat bun (OK, I lied about the last bit), but this is dependent on committing to two sessions a week. He also suggests I try to make it to one yoga class, for flexibility, and a Pilates class, to improve my core strength.
Over the next six months, I will let you know how I get on. Hopefully it might inspire some of you to have your own Black Swan moment.