Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Welcome to Caltech Ballet!


If you’re reading this inaugural blog post, you’re probably curious about the ballet classes offered through the Caltech Ballet Club.  We don’t blame you.  Ballet is not only beautiful to watch, but practicing it will help you with balance, posture, core strength, flexibility, and muscle tone. 

We admit it.  We’re a bit ruthless when it comes to recruiting new members.  A simple “No, I’m not interested” usually doesn’t suffice.  We like to know why you’re not interested.  Chances are, you’ll give us one of the five excuses below as to why you’re so reluctant to join us.  Being a bit “passionate” (re: obsessive) about our art and our desire for everyone to enjoy it as much as we do, we’ve come up with the following reasons why your excuses are totally bogus.

Excuse #1: It’s too late for me to start ballet.

Pardon the cliché, but it’s NEVER TOO LATE.  Well, maybe if you wanted to become a principal dancer with New York City Ballet, but have never done anything past the Macarena at a wedding, it might be too late (we say might, because you could be a brilliant phenomenon who is so talented that you throw your life away to pursue dance…not saying it will happen, but it could!).  However, students of all ages and levels attend our classes.  Some of us have been dancing since we were four years old and some of us started last year.  You don’t have to be a kid to be able to pick up the exercises, you just have to be there and try them!

Also, the follow-up excuse to this “I’m going to look stupid” doesn’t suffice either.  Let’s say you’re an athlete – a tennis player, for example.  The first time you served a tennis ball, it might have flown out of the court, hitting an innocent spectator in the face.  Maybe you felt “stupid” then, but you didn’t know the proper technique.  However, you kept trying and now you can probably volley with the best of them.  Ballet is the same way.  Maybe you won’t exactly get the steps at first, but if you keep practicing, you’ll get them.  Then you won’t have to worry about “looking stupid”, even though you won’t, trust us.

Excuse #2: Ballet is only for girls.

A part of us dies when we hear boys shunning ballet because they deem it “too girly” or “not manly enough”.  It’s common knowledge that a lot of professional athletes are encouraged to take ballet to help with their agility and flexibility.  We dare you to call a linebacker “not manly” or “girly”.  If you do, we promise to send flowers to the hospital.  Male ballet dancers not only have to be graceful, dignified and poised, but they also need to have the strength to lift a girl up over their heads (all the while looking graceful, dignified and poised – it’s a lot harder than it sounds).   For men taking ballet class, you’ll be pushed to be more agile, stronger, and centered.  Also, instead of lifting a barbell over your head, you’ll be lifting a pretty girl ;)

Excuse #3: I don’t have the body type for ballet.

We’ve got a secret for you.  Contrary to what you might believe, beautiful ballet dancers come in a range of shapes and sizes.  There is no specific ballet body type.  Some beautiful dancers are stick-thin, size zero and some have Marilyn Monroe hourglass figures.  We never want anyone to feel discouraged about coming to class because they’re concerned about their body.  If you’re coming to class and working as hard as you can, nothing else matters.

The follow-up excuse to this is “I’m not flexible enough” or “I don’t have enough turnout”.  Those things improve with practice and time.  Plus, not everyone’s legs are physically designed for 180-degree turnout or contortionist flexibilty.  Another secret for you – THAT’S OKAY.  You’ll have other strengths and talents that you bring to the table and make you the beautiful dancer that you will be.     

Excuse #4: I prefer dance-based workouts like Zumba or the Barre Method, not ballet class.

We agree there are real benefits to those workouts and we totally respect your preference, but ballet class provides you both with an intense workout and an opportunity to express your emotions. We find this particularly helpful if you need to blow off steam after a frustrating day or if you’re feeling bad or upset about something. 

Excuse #5: I’m a hip-hop/jazz/contemporary/ballroom dancer, not a ballet dancer.

That’s totally cool.  We love that you’re passionate about another dance genre.  However, we feel that ballet technique can only enhance other dance forms.  Developpe exercises will help with your tilts in jazz and contemporary.  Working on your pirouettes and spotting will help with your ballroom turns.  Plies will make you jump higher in hip-hop.  Ballet may seem constrictive, but barre exercises will help you align your body, strengthen your muscles, and improve your control over your body.  Center floor exercises will help you with your performance.  We don’t want you to abandon your other passion, but before you write ballet off as “not your thing”, consider the benefits ballet could bring to your other dance pursuits.

There you have it.  We’ve called foul on your excuses, so you can’t protest anymore.  So, instead of fighting it and arguing with us, just take a class and see what you’re missing!  We look forward to seeing you there! 

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