Adult Ballet Club: A Conversation with Patrice / by Kitoko Chargois | PearlArts Studios

PearlArts Studios frequently hosts ballet classes taught by Andrew Blight, so it was a natural transition to Adult Ballet Club, a six week workshop that teaches the fundamentals of ballet and expands on them with technique and choreography. Beginning Monday, July 10, Adult Ballet Club will culminate in a showcase where participants can share their new moves with friends and family. We sat down with Patrice Collins, who has previously taken ballet classes with us, to talk about her experiences with the class. *Interview has been edited for length and clarity

About Adult Ballet Class: Every Monday; July 10-August 14 | 6:15-8 PM
                            At PearlArts Studios | 201 N. Braddock Ave. 

                            Cost: $100 | Click for more information and registration 

Photo: Kitoko Chargois

Photo: Kitoko Chargois

How did you begin taking ballet at PAS?

It was actually on Facebook. Tamiah invited me and I had taken Zumba with her before. I really love Tamiah's energy, so I was like, “That’s what she’s doing? I want to come check it out.” So I basically followed her lead. With ballet in the past, I always wanted to try it, but I didn’t think I would have an opportunity as an adult, so when I saw it I was like this is an opportunity to try a type of dance in a place I would be comfortable.

Take us back to your first ballet class. How did it feel?

It felt doable because the instructor was really encouraging. Everyone else who was in the class was also really encouraging and just had positive energy and patience, and I didn’t feel like I was expected to be a professional dancer when I came in which was really nice. I felt like I was actually going to have the opportunity and the mental space to actually learn ballet without so much anxiety around it.

Have you done any other types of dance before this ballet class?

I did African dance for a little while and that was about it. That was my first time, and I’ve always been nervous about dance and never looked at myself as a dancer. I always labeled myself as just a visual artist. So once I did the African dance, it was really encouraging, so I was really excited about the ballet and there wasn’t as much fear involved about doing it.

What would you tell people who are on the fence about joining Adult Ballet?

I would tell them to come and try it. Definitely come and try it. And to be patient with yourself. I would also say that I noticed that once I just paid attention to how I felt in my own body and stopped trying to think about the technicality of it, it seemed like things were starting to come together. Just come, and relax, and be patient with yourself. Don’t expect yourself to be a professional dancer because no one else is expecting you to be one when you get there.

What are some of the things you’ve learned?

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Even though I’ve only taken about four of the classes, when I think about ballet in comparison to the African dance, it lets me see the different ranges that our bodies are able to reach. There’s things that your muscles can do that you didn’t know that they could do. And I know a lot of people might think they’re too old to just be starting ballet, but your body is very forgiving and there’s things your body is able to do that you don’t know your body is able to do. You should come and impress yourself.

What are some of the moment you ran into that you thought “I didn’t know my body could do this?”

My balance. When I had to get up on my tippy toes and that was the only thing I could do well. I never looked at myself and thought that I had good balance, but in the class, that was the part that was easiest for me, so I kind of took that and ran with it and used it to build me up about the things that I didn’t feel as comfortable about.

How do you feel about Adult Ballet as an alternative to traditional exercise?

I gotta tell you...I’ve only come for four sessions, and I have a wonderful behind. It’s great for the buttocks, and also everything feels like a stretch which I really appreciate when I come in. I can relax my mind. Once I realized that I don’t have to remember all the technical words for everything and to just try to get the muscle memory, I settled into it.

What do you look most forward to starting this session of adult ballet?

I’m looking forward to other people who are going to come because I always look forward to meeting other people and finding out their reasons for why they’re there, especially with adult ballet, everyone’s probably there for a different reason. Also just pushing my boundaries and creating that space to have grace in my life. I feel like ballet will be a good way to do that, so I’m excited about having that for myself. I’m also excited about the performance at the end. Even though I did African dance and we worked on a piece, we never actually finished it to be able to dance for anybody. I’ve never danced in a performance before, so I’m excited and nervous about that part.

Don't waste any time! Adult Ballet begins Monday, July 10, but there is still time to sign up!