Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ballet: Good for the Mind, Good for the Body - Instructor Kathy Sullivan

"Rely on what you know already--music, yoga, Hip Hop… Ballet is just a different language of moving to music." -- Kathy Sullivan

Peridance Capezio Center has a world-renowned faculty of nearly 100 instructors. We sat down with ballet instructor Kathy Sullivan, leading one of our popular Adult Beginner classes, now on promotion with NYC Dance Week.

Photos by Judi Huck, PR + Design at Peridance Capezio Center
For students who come to my class after years of being away from dance or ballet, they usually find themselves pleasantly surprised as to how quickly it comes back to them!  Muscle memory is amazing! One student, for instance, had not taken ballet in quite a while, but once in the class, their reaction was "Omg, there it is!"

For others who are just beginning, I notice a lot of folks who have been curious about taking ballet or dance for some time. They just never had to the opportunity to take a class. This applies to guys, especially! I have a great deal of respect for absolute beginner students, for trying something new and stepping outside of their comfort zone. That takes a lot of guts!!

Regardless of whether a student is getting back in the swing of things or trying ballet for the first time, I always put myself in their shoes and am as patient and understanding as I can be. Honestly, I really like teaching the “foundation” level classes, where you truly have to *teach* and break down the technique. I find that aspect immensely rewarding.
Kathy helping a beginning ballet student with a "retire"
No one should feel awkward from any lack of experience. All of us have to start somewhere. You can't give birth to a perfect pirouette, it takes time to develop and requires practice and persistence. The adult students I work with are always hardworking and intelligent; they also learn very quickly.

We address beginner anxiety and shyness by keeping the class atmosphere fun and light-hearted. To help students feel comfortable with their body image, I say that the mirror is a visual tool to help see the ballet form and line, not for criticizing ourselves.

Ballet Attire for Newbies

In terms of what to wear, ballet slippers are ideal but socks are OK to start. In general, it's best to dress in comfortable exercise clothing (but no exposed midriffs) to allow the teacher to see your alignment and posture.

I find with adults dancers, it becomes more than a classroom experience. Like yoga, ballet has a calming, centering effect, and provides a very satisfying feeling after you finish class. It is a great way to start the day and carries over to your entire life!

NYC Dance Week students in "cambre de cote"
Kathy currently teaches: 

 Beginner Level

Tuesdays & Thursdays, 8:45-10:00am

In addition to teaching at Peridance and other studios, she is the creator of The Ballet Glider: www.balletglider.com.

Have a question for Kathy? Tell us in the comments!

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