March Spotlight: Adult Ballet Students
Ballet is for Everyone…Including Adults!
Neglia Conservatory of Ballet believes that ballet is for everyone to enjoy. Whether it’s watching ballet, performing for an audience, or practicing pliés at the barre, everyone can benefit from ballet.
We are fortunate that Neglia’s instructor Angela Hastings is adept at teaching all types of new dancers (from toddlers to adults) no matter their age or dance experience.
Due to popularity, Adult Ballet class has expanded its program to two evening classes per week. We recently caught up with three students to get their unique perspectives on Adult Ballet
#1 “Body Awareness Follows Me Outside the Studio”
Matthew Austin from Amherst, NY just started ballet in January of 2018 at the age of 27.
Matthew has interest in martial arts, skating/hockey, camping and traveling. His only previous dance experience was with the Polish Heritage Dancers of WNY. He participates in Capoeira – a 16th century Brazilian martial arts which combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music. His initial goal was to use Adult Ballet as a cross-training tool for Capoeira.
“There are a lot of similarities between Ballet and Capoeira such as musicality and the precision and control of movement that I am excited to develop at Neglia,” says Matthew.
And he was also inspired by NFL players who have used ballet to help their balance and flexibility.
“I definitely find it to be a great workout and I look forward to attending classes in the evening and moving since I spend most of my day sitting in an office cubicle,” says Matthew.
Of the unexpected benefits of Adult Ballet, Matthew appreciates “the general body awareness that follows me outside of the studio. I work in an office where I spend the majority of my day sitting at a computer, and I now find myself frequently correcting my posture throughout the day.”
Trying ballet for the first time can be intimidating.
“I was definitely nervous before my first class as I didn’t know what to expect but everyone was very welcoming,” says Matthew. “The first class was overwhelming as all the movements are so new, but after a few classes I’ve gotten the hang of it. Angela is a great instructor and she always makes sure to correct my postures and movement and provide me with sequences that are appropriate for my skill level once we move to center.”
His advice to other adults interested in trying ballet?
“I would definitely recommend trying ballet. I think no matter what your motivation is for trying, if you are persistent and come to each class with an openness to new knowledge, you’ll really enjoy your experience.”
#2 “Don’t Give Up”
Meet Michele Mesi from Williamsville, age 58.
In 2006 Michele started leading a dance team at her church and realized she needed her balance, strength and technique to improve. So she turned to ballet. Returned actually. As a child she had tried ballet but was discouraged because she was told she “didn’t look like a ballerina.” Michele did keep up with tap and jazz into her college years. She hoped that adding ballet would help her find some “grace”.
In 2012 she started taking adult ballet regularly at local studios, and added Neglia in 2016.
Trying Adult Ballet in recent years ended up being a blessing for Michele. She has stitches in her Achilles tendon and developed scar tissue. Her doctor had informed her if she did not have surgery she would not dance, or walk.
Fortunately, the barre work Michele does in ballet class stretches out her tendons and she has avoided surgery.
Besides the physical and health benefits of ballet, Michele finds that “ballet is definitely a stress reliever. When I get at the barre I forget the day’s stresses at work. It’s great exercise and I have made a lot of friends.”
It’s not uncommon for adults with injuries to give up a fitness regime, but Michele’s advice is:
“I tell others to keep doing it and do not give up. You will get better the more you come and your body will eventually stretch out.”
#3 “The Stress of the Day Melts Away”
Emma Montague, age 26, hails from outside of Philadelphia and has been in Buffalo for five years. When she isn’t working as a mental health counselor, cooking, enjoying modern art or traveling, she enjoys dancing.
“Ballet is a great workout, and it’s fun. What better way to exercise than to dance? Humans evolved dancing and singing together – I believe doing so satisfies a deep need in us. The stress of the day melts away. The class is also social, and we’ve gone for food/drinks after class in the past,” says Emma.
Emma began dancing at age 9, first with ballet and then added jazz, tap, hip hop, and modern. Following her teen years, she danced occasionally while at university.
After seeing an ad on a bus shelter, she found her way to Neglia on Mondays. She was one of the first students to include Thursday evening classes once they were added to the schedule.
“It’s made working out 4-5 days a week easy. The two days I take Adult Ballet feel more like fun than exercise,” says Emma.
“Angela does a great job of breaking down the steps, and I have even seen people who are absolute beginners improve and grow rather quickly. There is a range of skill levels in the class and everyone is very friendly. If you are interested, you should give it a try!”
When asked about the studios at Neglia, Emma says “I’ve taken classes at most of the ballet studios in the city of Buffalo and it’s the nicest space I’ve encountered. It’s pretty conveniently located, parking is a snap, and on a clear day you can see the mist from Niagara Falls, which is neat.”
“Angela is good at accommodating a wide range of skill levels to help everyone feel satisfied by the end of class.”