Experiencing Adult Ballet at the Joffrey Ballet School

Ballet dancer in convertible tights
This is not me.

When I started ballet two months ago, I had no idea that I’d fall back in love so much. On a recent trip to Manhattan with CrossFit C, I had a feeling that she’d want to try out a box. Me, I have no idea how to do the lifts, so I looked into adult drop-in ballet classes and found beginner ballet classes at the Joffrey Ballet School in Greenwich Village.

The adult program is designed for dancers at all levels, from absolute beginners to former professionals. The classes focus on proper alignment, strength, and flexibility. To take the Beginner 1 and Beginner 2 classes, you do need a ballet foundation (i.e., a working knowledge of basic terms). It’s a drop-in program, so it’s first come, first serve, dog-eat-dog if you’re late.
I got to the Greenwich Village studio in time for the Beginner 2 class (Beginner 1 was all filled up by the time I got there, and dance anxiety was setting in as I waited outside Studio 3 for class to begin). I have a working knowledge of the barre and beginner center work, but as I looked at these sleek dancer-types, I started to doubt myself. Nevertheless, I fiddled with the elastic on my rather old canvas slippers (which I had brought since the studio has sprung floors) and lined up into the studio with everyone else. I took my place at the barre, doing my best to squelch down my anxiety.
The instructor was Lara Tant, co-founder of Exit 12 Dance Company in NYC. She made all the movements seemed easy, and she took the time to explain what we were doing at the barre and in the center. The combinations were challenging in terms of remembering them, and when we were doing frappes, I did get mixed up. When I was facing in one direction, I was behind a woman who was about on the same level as me, maybe a little more experienced. In the other direction, I was behind this woman who obviously had years of dance training, and every move she made was absolutely beautiful. I was in awe of her frappes and plies and releves.
Center work was more challenging. I did my best to keep up, but I definitely aligned myself with the group doing the steps in a slower tempo (and it was really awesome of Lara to offer that option). She came up with some great combos, and the only one I pulled myself out of involved a bunch of jumps that I just have not even gotten close to mastering.
Overall, I am so incredibly glad I went. I was far from the best, and probably the worst, but it was an incredible experience to dance with a new group and a class size larger than my home studio. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but I would get there early enough for Beginner 1 with plenty of time to spare. Dog-eat-dog applies to adult ballet classes, although the dancers are very supportive of each other.
4