As a child I took a few years of ballet/modern dance classes, with a wonderful woman named Mrs Biscegli. My classes with Mrs. Biscegli never made me into a true "ballerina". I never learned how to dance in point shoes and never participated in a performance of The Nutcracker. What I did learn, however, was a way to use my body creatively, and to be aware of my body and its relation to the space around it. I felt good about myself, I felt creative, I gained flexibility and balance, and always felt happy and proud when we performed for our families at the end of the year. And though I sometimes envied my friends on the stage when I went to their performances with real Ballet companies, I never envied the late hours they spent practicing leading up to these performances, or the stress they felt when auditioning for a part in the dance.
As a teenager, however, I gave up my dance classes for gymnastics, and have since attended yoga classes regularly. I decided, however, when I recently moved to Washington, DC, that I would like to take up ballet classes again. I approached my search for an adult beginner ballet class with the lessons I had learned from Mrs. Biscegli; dance should be fun, uncompetitive and stress-free. When I came across adult ballet classes offered by the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop ( www.chaw.org ), a wonderful organization that offers beginning classes of almost every kind for adults and children, I knew I had found the right place for me. For an hour on Tuesday nights, I join a small group of students in a small studio in Eastern Market, many of whom are regulars, some with years of ballet experience, some with none at all. The teacher is easygoing, friendly and always encouraging, with an obvious love of dance that is completely infectious.
The benefits of dance are established; the balance, flexibility and grace gained lead even football coaches to enroll their star players in class. As someone who is not an athlete, and does not enjoy spending 20-30 minutes on a treadmill three times a week, dance class is a welcome relief, a moment of fun and an easy way to fit some additional exercise into my week. The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop even offers other styles of dance, like tap, flamenco and social dancing. In other places I have also discovered adult beginning tango, salsa, modern, bollywood and West African dance classes. As you do your own search for a dance class that fits your style, remember: dance is about self-expression, creativity, and above all, fun!