Photograph by Ben Rollins
“And one and two and three and four,” the instructor drilled, her straight leg flying in rapid fire. “Close front, close front, close back, close back.” Or something like that. We’d just started a beginner ballet class, and already I was lost.
Looking for winter workouts—and inspired by talk of Roméo et Juliette, Atlanta Ballet’s premiere this month of a production from Les Ballets de Monte Carlo—I checked out the company’s adult open division, which offers classes ranging from intro level to advanced and pointe. Ballet tones and strengthens the full body, encourages long and lean muscles, and improves posture and flexibility. That is, provided you can keep up.
I’d taken dance as a child, so I knew my pliés from my jetés, but not much more. If you’re an absolute beginner or are returning after a long hiatus, the intro class is for you. The one I took was on Monday night at Atlanta Ballet’s Buckhead studio.
A bit of good news: Ballet for grown-ups is not as strict. Children must adhere to a dress code that dictates everything from bun etiquette (eliminate all frizziness!) to leotard color. We adults were encouraged to wear “comfortable clothing,” i.e., your most graceful workout wear. There were more than a dozen of us, male and female, with experience ranging from first-timers to former dancers and ages from nineteen to several decades older.
Encouraged by my intro experience, I got up the nerve to try the beginner class, this one at the Ballet’s LEED-certified Westside headquarters and taught by Carol, whose New Orleans–New York accent, cropped graying hair, petite frame, and sharp features epitomized the formidable whip-cracking ballet mistress. There was a human accompanist, and Carol tapped our first combination so fast—as noted above—that I almost walked out. But her humor shone through: Come to relevé—raise to the balls of your feet—“like you’re wearing Kim Kardashian heels!” “Squeeeeeze your body like a tube of lipstick!” Whatever that means.
More on the barre scene
In January, Pure Barre opened a new flagship studio on the Westside.
Dance 101 is adding a second metro location in Alpharetta.
National chain Bar Method launched in East Cobb last year.
Atlanta Ballet Centre for Dance Education has Westside, Buckhead, and East Cobb studios. Adult classes in jazz, tap, modern, hip-hop, Pilates, yoga, and more are $10 to $15.
And Pink Barre is coming soon to Emory Point and Buckhead.
This article originally appeared in our February 2014 issue.