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Simply Adult Ballet: the progress of one adult dancer who took up ballet later in life


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Thanks for the heads up re steps Michelle ....glad you didn't cause yourself an injury ....that's just my danger area usually ....rushing and missing a step.. or not noting the height of some steps has led to more than one downfall in my time!! Though these days have been getting a lot more careful. Sometimes even stopping yourself falling though can lead to strange things....once missing the final step going out of someone's flat I sort of ended up leaning rather heavily into someone's bike locked to the stair rail at the bottom and had this huge pedal indent on my leg which was quite sore and took ages ( weeks) to go 😩 

I have my first real mask escapade on Tuesday when I finally  get to the hairdressers! I've got it all planned out....I'm taking three altogether with individual plastic  bags for each. I will probably only end up using one but am being ultra safe in case I'm a heavy breather lol!! 

Now my main decision is do I carry on letting hair go grey, decide to go more blonde to the colour it has faded to, or use my usual mid brown colour. I think it's going to be one of those decisions that is made right at the last moment when I'm actually talking to the hairdresser ....hope she doesn't mis hear what I say through the mask 🙄 

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Face covering or no face coverings, that is the question.

 

Before I go on to requirements in dance studios, On Friday, the day face coverings were made mandatory for shops and supermarkets etc, I went shopping into Morrison with Adrian, the first time we have done our weekly shop together since the lockdown, in spite of the mask, it was a far nicer experience, to have someone to help. However it was spoilt when we left.

As we had just got outside of the main door which had a segregated in and out, a young man of about 20, went into wrong entrance (exit) with no face covering, at first I though he may have been a member of staff. There were two guys with yellow jackets controlling the customers going in, they see this young man and called him back for no face covering, he turn and looked, crossed over to the in side and shouted back “not everyone wears one”. I was shocked as it appeared that he simply couldn’t be bothered, and then I asked myself why have all those NHS staff died in the fight against COVID for us all, when there a people like this.

 

Dance studios

This will be my first week back and for me things are still very unclear, I know my teacher has studied the requirement, as I sent her all the ISTD documents and links,  the problem in many cases is establishing if it’s mandatory or advisable.

Some studio owners are specifying face coverings and gloves, if required, who decides?.

Social distancing originally for in-door gyms were set a 100sq feet per person which is approximately 3 metres between centres (10 x 10 feet), that would make sense as we all know we breath heavier during exercise. However the only reference I have seen recently is social distancing at 2 metres, also improving the ventilation of studios by opening the windows, is that sufficient to mitigate the use of wearing of face coverings. I think there is another important point, during the winter when the virus becomes more active, the studio windows are far more likely to be closed.

 

I know we were asked this by our teacher a couple of weeks ago at our fitness class if we would be ok to wear face masks if required, we all agreed too.

 

We were also asked to bring our own equipment in (yoga mats and Swiss balls) sanitised, I think it would be prudent to sanitise these in the car park before going in, as I guess they could get contaminated once they are put in the car to travel to the studio, I really don't think they should actually be sanitised in the studio itself. Under the regulation if the studio owner is providing it, it must be sanitised by someone else and away from the studio.

 

I guess its going to be an interesting week, although I’m kicking off next Monday with a Zoom master-class in the evening, during the day I hope to run through the entire barre from the Cecchetti syllabus plus some of the centre work in prep for Tuesdays in-studio class, my Monday session will be in face covering for around half an hour of the barre and half an hour of centre as that should replicate a typical class, if I can tolerate more of the centre work, I may try it for endurance.  I really don’t think it will be a walk in the park, but could lead to me selecting a more appropriate face covering or at least trialling a few .

 

It would be interesting to here others take on this?

 

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I think it's up to individual studios to set what they want regarding masks. 

Danceworks in London is opening and not requiring face masks in the studio itself only for walking around the public areas of the premises. That's as it is now anyway.

Brighton Natural Health Centre is opening next week for yoga only at the moment and the same thing you don't have to wear a mask in class.

Where vocational schools are concerned I should think they won't be required there because children in schools are not required to wear masks.

Personally I'd prefer not to wear one and not sure I'd attend a studio that required this they get far too hot on continued exertion but are okay for just walking around.

some studios are doing temperature checks before classes but not sure realistically how useful this is but that's one of their requirements.

You don't have to wear a mask in a gym setting so I guess it would be difficult to enforce if it doesn't say explicitly in the rules that people in dance classes must wear masks as mandatory.

 

 

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Hi Linda

I most definitely don’t agree with the inconsistency of individual studios deciding what they want regarding masks themselves. Shops and Supermarkets can’t, many shops have air conditioning and I guess most if not all supermarkets do too and it’s mandatory that we wear masks in those places, even though the government has taken a very lacks approach to enforcement. Also the social distancing where possible is still 2 meters, dropping to no less than 1 with mitigation.

 

That must mean the basic rules imposed dance studios should be less than that of a supermarket, so with 2 metres social distancing and heavy breathing due to exertion is ok without face covering, that just doesn’t make sense.

 

I note your comment about temperature checks, again many pubs and restaurants do it, but not all, the cost involved is tiny and not prohibitive, my argument again it’s inconsistent again.

 

I know I’m playing devils advocate, but these thing shouldn’t be left to chance or individual preference.  Too many people have died, if we can we must individually try and minimise those to dies in the future, especially this winter when the virus becomes more active.

 

For me, I’m not sure where I stand as regards the masks, that why I am at least trying different ones out myself, but I feel duty bound to try and help stop the spread of COVID, and not just say not my problem.

 

I was hoping to run through things today, but my teacher cancelled tomorrows class as the other student isn’t available, but I have 3 hours with her on Wednesday, so tomorrow is all prep and try out with masks.

 

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Well until the Gov makes it mandatory to wear a mask in a dance studio I guess we all have to make our own choices 

If a studio you use doesn’t require you to wear them then obviously don’t use that studio if you feel strongly about it and want to wear one OR just don’t return to a Dance studio at all if you feel it’s not safe in any way etc 

Likewise if you don’t want to wear a mask and a studio you use requires it then don’t go to that studio. 
The Brighton Natural Health Centre opened today just for yoga classes at the mo but when you read through the list of rules etc it actually states “masks are not recommended for wear in the studio.” 
I have no idea who has researched this for the Gov to give the guidelines but at least three major Dance places do not require masks to be worn in the actual classes just around the building in general. 
Of course there are much lower numbers allowed into the classes than would be usually so social distancing can be observed most are using 2 metres as a guide which is why it’s difficult for many smaller Dance studios because sadly it may not be viable to open with such small numbers. 

Many teachers who have been teaching on Zoom are doing both when get back to studio so more people can participate and of course this way they can keep an income coming in. Most just charge a couple of pounds less for Zoom classes ( eg: £10 in studio or £7-8 on Zoom. 
It’s going to be interesting to see how both work together but with a bit of imagination I think it can. 
Those who are extra worried about their health don’t have to actually go to a studio till they think it’s safer. 
I have no intention of returning to a studio until around end of Sept / October and then only the two local ones I know are well ventilated. 
Returning to classes in London will not be an option for me until at least November because of the journey etc. And this is dependent on there not being any huge spikes in the virus in the next few months. Hopefully it will find a sort of consistent low level of infection in most areas but until the R number returns to below one in London area I’m not risking it. 
There were only two regular classes I attended in London anyway both really good quality ones but I know at least one of them is intending to continue zooming and that studio can open at some point in August. At least half that class live 50 plus miles from London so not many in a rush to get back to studio just yet!!  

 

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It appears that exercise with a  facemask is a far greater exertion than without. The heart rate is raised, breathing may be affected and may lead to breathlessness or dizziness. It is suggested that it's equivalent to exercising at altitude. So if people do exercise while wearing a facemask they will need to choose a suitable mask  - there are some specialist sports masks around and Bloch has one for dance (I bought one from Just Ballet) - and change it when it gets wet. They'll need to to work less intensively than usual, take more rests and watch out for feelings of faintness. See https://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2020/06/12/should-people-wear-a-face-mask-during-exercise-what-should-clinicians-advise/

 

However I must say that I don't see myself dancing in a mask. I started feeling uncomfortable, breathless and a bit panicky just in the supermarket.

 

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Good for you Michelle, I admire your attitude that you’re willing to give it a go. I think many of us are struggling a bit with masks just around the shops so I’m not sure how viable they are for exercise, especially for those with minor medical conditions (who could cope in shops etc). The risk takes into account footfall so you might meet the same 10 people in your ballet class each week but if you go to the supermarket each week over time you’ll be in contact with 100s. Adults are more likely to have symptoms so they’re probably unlikely to go to an exercise class if under the weather, they may be more tempted to pop to the supermarket for paracetamol! So The transmission may be easier in a dance studio but the chances of you coming into contact with somebody who is infected are very much lower. I believe one of the main reasons for masks in shops is that a number of shop workers have now sadly died, because again they are in contact with huge amounts of people during their shifts. 
the other thing to consider is that being unfit/ overweight is an enormous risk for poorer outcomes with covid, so the government are now extremely keen to get everyone exercising as much as possible. It’s difficult to weigh up the risks but if you’re driving to class your chances of meeting somebody who is infected are very low at the moment especially if you know and trust your classmates to isolate when necessary 

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4 hours ago, The_Red_Shoes said:

<snip>

 

However I must say that I don't see myself dancing in a mask. I started feeling uncomfortable, breathless and a bit panicky just in the supermarket.

 


As someone who worked scrubside  in Operating Theatres for the better part of a year  , and who technically counts as Veteran and was also a CBRN and decon trainer for the NHS  the emboldened word in your closing sentence sums it up ...   but then again i was also someone who  could happily assess and stitch the wound of someone  who PC Plod had brought into  A+E  after  having  a cannister full of incapacitant spray used on them ... 

there is a significant supratentorial  component to this , much as some people cannot swim under water / or on the surface using 'correct' (per the racing types)  breathing technique...   
 

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But if it’s a problem for you it’s a problem we cannot all be compared continually to trained medical staff however wonderful and heroic they are!! 

People are all different ages and as you get older even if you are pretty healthy you are not going to have the same breath reserves as some others in the same class who could be literally 10/20/30/40 and even 50 years younger than yourself!!! 
It’s also a bit like telling someone who has a genuine fear of flying ( I don’t ...I love being on a plane even though I haven’t for four years now)  to just get a grip! They won’t! 
However best to not be too judgemental about this and people can make their own decisions about what risks they want to put themselves through masks or no masks 

Nobody is forced to go to a ballet studio at the moment if they would find it risky for one reason or another whatever it is. 
And I agree that getting to a class could be the riskiest bit of it all if you have to use buses and trains etc and can’t just drive there in your car. 

Im really hoping to get to a swimming pool in the next two weeks. I’ve missed swimming almost as much as not being in the Dance studio! There are certain risks with this ....although reading through the list of rules of the local pools they are being minimised as much as poss ... you can only book set sessions online etc ....It’s probably marginally more risky than a Dance class but because it’s local am prepared to balance the risks against building up some much needed aerobic strength again in the pool. I will probably start with the Saltdean Lido which is opening this week. Everything will be outside ...even changing ... but it’s only ten mins walk away so consider myself very lucky. 
And yes the sea is just across the road lol! Might get in there in a week or two as well as it’s usually warm enough for me just about by August!! 





 

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Not that it's got anything to do with the price of fish but one of my closest friends spent the whole of June in intensive care (including over 2 weeks in an induced sleep and on a ventilator) because of a severe attack of COPD.  (The medical staff were amazing).  She's now home and has just come out of her recommended sheltering.  She wears a mask even though she could get an exemption.

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Well most of us are wearing masks as required to. 

Many people who suffer from asthma and could get exemptions are choosing not to and wearing masks too. 

 

 

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For what its worth, I did some initial tests today the first was with Trumask a Nano fibre filter face mask with a multi layer replaceable filter, this was supplied by Vista print. I did half hour of Cecchetti barre, it was quite hot but bearable and I was confident I could have gone on for a full hour of barre exercises, room temperature at that time was around 25ºC.

 

I had a break between the two tests as Adrian came home for lunch.

 

The second mask was a Jiandi KN95 respirator which provides 5 layers of protection, it was well fitting and felt sealed around the edges but reasonably breathable too. I repeated the barre test with the remaining barre for approximate the same period, however it was afternoon and the temperature in my studio had risen to 27ºC, rather than turn the air conditioning on, I thought it would be a more severe test for the mask. As I was still able to continue I started on the centre work for another half an hour without a break, still at an elevated temperature too, although it was uncomfortable, it certainly wasn’t unbearable and I could still dance in it. However one thing I noticed but may not be related to the mask, I needed to go to the loo more often.

 

The reason I noticed it, my teacher messaged me to tell my the water at our studio is being checked for legionnaires and the loos and changing rooms are out of bounds, she wanted to know if was ok to go for 3 hours. Somehow I don’t think we will be wearing masks.

One of our Ladies for the Body Conditioning class has suggested we do it outside in the playing field and that is the plan if it doesn’t rain.

 

Although I have a couple of other masks I could try, I have one of Bloch’s B-Safe masks arriving tomorrow which is supposed to be designed for dance. I will check that out as soon as I get the chance.

 

Conclusion so far, I found the Jiandi KN95 is far more comfortable for exercise and more suited to dance than the Trumask was.

 

 

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Most dance classes above beginner level are an hour and a half though rather than an hour. 
Glad you only found it uncomfortable as opposed to unbearable. 
I think if I was wearing a mask for dance classes I’d use the lighter more disposable ones and change appropriately depending on the demands of the class....every 30 mins or every 45 mins etc. 
Ive got some Bloch ones ...in black ..look a bit bandito in them but are reasonably comfortable ...for walking around in at any rate. 

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On ‎28‎/‎07‎/‎2020 at 22:45, LinMM said:

Most dance classes above beginner level are an hour and a half though rather than an hour. . 

I didn’t receive my Bloch B-safe masks in time for todays classes, so I took the best of what I checked. Unlike you big girls doing those long hour and  half classes, us lesser mortals only did 2 small 1 hour Cecchetti Advanced 2 classes one after the other in masks. As it was a nice evening we did the fitness class outside and a little deer came to watch us. Otherwise it could have well been 3 hours,  no problem for us hard-core lot up here.

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Well marathon girl Michelle hope the little deer enjoyed watching your final session!! At least it stayed around wondering what you were up to! 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Last week was my first week back to ballet, after mine and Adrian’s week in Scotland, sadly we didn’t do our intensive this year as we were too far behind with what I had set.

My first surprise came from my Cecchetti when she asked if I could roll my Tuesday and Wednesday classes together as our other lady wouldn’t be attending on Tuesday. I thought this was another one off so to speak because of holidays. Eventually I queried it and I was told it will be two hours on a Wednesday until further notice, so I’m not sure what happened when I was away.

When I attended the class, I got another little surprise, my teacher had hurt her leg, so she couldn’t dance, so she decided she would focus on my technique very closely, and she did, and I have quite a few corrections to work through ready for this week. Many of those relate to the difference in interpretation between what is listed in a book called the “manual”, and the videos I tend to work from, from Cecchetti Ballet Inc of Australia. At least the ISTD have advised me the UK DVD for Advanced 2 should be out in September, at least we will all be singing from the same song sheet.

 

I guess the most difficult thing for me that evening was, I had to last a continuous run of 3 hours in the studio in a mask, as the last class was a body conditioning class inspired by PBT, previously we had been lucky with the weather and done it outside. That last hour was really difficult, the mask seriously impeded my breathing, and many occasions I held it about a quarter of an inch off my face and that made all the difference. To be fair that night, there were only three of us and our teacher in the body conditioning class, so social distancing would not have been a problem without the mask.

 

During our week in Scotland Adrian and I had previously made arrangements for a social call on our teacher to pop in for a coffee and a chat on the Thursday. At this point we had no idea what had been going on in the media.
Needless to say it came as a shock as I had been working with them for the past 7 years. Our teacher only mentioned the bare bones of the media involvement as she wasn’t allowed legally to go into detail, needless to say we didn’t press her.
Although we knew something was going down, we didn’t quite know what until the Friday evening, and I see a share on facebook by one of my ballet friends, and of course with her un-complementary comment too, my feeling was that this had been a trial by media and the real damage has already been done, ahead of any independence formal investigation.
I have no idea what will come out during an investigation, there is no way I will try and pre-judge it, but I do firmly believe in the fundamental principle that you are innocent until you are proven guilty, however I will say, my prayers are with my teacher and her family at this time. 

 

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8 hours ago, Peony said:

Out of interest was the mask a requirement in your classes or personal choice? Just interested as I haven’t heard of other classes requiring masks yet. 

 

If you look at "The future starts here" banner photograph on BRB's website you'll see that the dancers are wearing masks...

 

https://www.brb.org.uk

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My youngest daughter wears a mask for eight hours when she is working. She also has asthma moderately badly. She can manage to wear a mask for an extended period so I simply do not understand people who say that they cannot. Surgeons have to do so as well. 

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Totally agree, Fiz. I'm asthmatic (enough to have always qualified for the flu jab) but had to wear a mask a couple of weeks ago for around 10 hours for a work thing I had to do - I use those disposable surgical masks and it's fine. I just find that the elastic around my ears, plus the ear pieces from my spectacles can sometimes push on my ears, but really, if it keeps others safe & shows respect for those around me, I'm not complaining.

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Folks, please....every disabled person is different. If you are asthmatic and can wear a mask, that's great, but it does not mean that all asthmatic people can wear a mask in all circumstances, and it certainly doesn't mean that someone with a different disability can do so.

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19 minutes ago, DVDfan said:

Folks, please....every disabled person is different. If you are asthmatic and can wear a mask, that's great, but it does not mean that all asthmatic people can wear a mask in all circumstances, and it certainly doesn't mean that someone with a different disability can do so.

 

You make a very good point there DVDfan and we must all be mindful of people who genuinely cannot wear a mask.

 

However, I was in a local supermarket on Thursday (not the one I usually go to) and was shocked at the number of people who must have medical reasons for not wearing a mask so there will be a degree of scepticism over non-mask-wearing.

 

I don't know about anyone else but I am wearing reusable masks including some made by young ladies from BRB!!  I see loads of "fashion" and "designer" brands are bringing out their own versions ... perhaps that will encourage more people to wear them because they will become a fashion accessory.

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The local class which has just opened her doesn’t require masks it’s optional. And on the Facebook streaming on Saturday nobody was wearing one.  But it’s a large studio with only maximum 10 dancers allowed. It’s got loads of big windows so don’t see it being too much of a problem. 
The group has been divided into two “bubbles” so you can only dance one a fortnight and have to stick to your bubble once allocated. This is about as safe as you can make it but when I join towards end of Sept I won’t be wearing a mask or I wouldn’t be attending! 
To me masks are just a mandatory thing to be worn as little as possible just where it is mandated. 
On social media I’ve seen a lot of “ one up man ship” regarding mask wearing and feel very uncomfortable about it. 
They are only minimally protective unless you are wearing a hospital standard one to be honest but if it makes people feel safer so be it. 
If you are asthmatic or have other breathing issues then you are exempt....I’m very sympathetic but still don’t want exempt mask wearers sitting next to me as they can still pass the virus on like anybody else but don’t have a problem with it beyond that. 
Some people can do 32 fouettes and some only a quarter or half that number a little tolerance required I think. 

 

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An issue I do have though is comparing ultra fit vocational or Company dancers with ALL other dancers! 
Im pretty ancient and very lucky to be able to still be able to take a ballet class at all but in NO way am I as fit especially puff wise as young professional dancers. I’m sure they can dance with ease in a mask but it’s not so easy for older dancers. 
it’s one thing strolling around the shops or sitting on a bus but the exertion required for a reasonable level ballet class is something else. 
 Anybody who is wearing a mask for hours on end should be careful. In fact I find it puzzling ... because your mask should get damp after a number of hours so should need changing. If it’s not getting damp then it’s probably not very good quality anyway as there must be quite a lot of breath escaping. If it’s easy for this to happen I’m not understanding how the mask is protecting anybody else at all 🤔 

Social distancing however annoying is still the best protection in the end. Masks should only really be there for when this is impossible for some reason. 
Just to add that a surgeon is in a very sterile environment generally so may get away with not changing masks and it still being okay. 
Im not keen to make it too fashionable as it seems just too much acceptance of the new normal for me !!!!

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1 hour ago, Jan McNulty said:

However, I was in a local supermarket on Thursday (not the one I usually go to) and was shocked at the number of people who must have medical reasons for not wearing a mask so there will be a degree of scepticism over non-mask-wearing.

 

Yes, I'm afraid this is what I tend to think. The problem is that the number of people not wearing masks because they don't want to or they're "uncomfortable" has a bad effect for those people who genuinely cannot wear them. I also think that some people see mild discomfort together with some sort of medical reason (eg asthma) as reason enough.

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1 hour ago, LinMM said:

They are only minimally protective unless you are wearing a hospital standard one to be honest but if it makes people feel safer so be it. 

 

The thing that I think a lot of people don't understand (or think through fully) is that wearing masks isn't to protect the wearer from other people, but to protect other people from the wearer. 

 

If we all wear them, we all protect each other. 

 

So I tend to regard those who don't wear masks, with no obvious disability (like the young lads on the bus the other day, with their father, talking loudly into his phone) as devoid of care & respect for others. 

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I see it as everyone's duty to wear a mask in places where it is required so it becomes established as normal behaviour. Then it is less likely that someone who is infectious but without symptoms will be spreading the virus.  There have been other health measures in the past that met resistance at first, e.g. wearing seatbelts, not drinking and driving, which are now followed by the vast majority of the population.

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I do understand that point. 
I just want the UK to keep a level head about masks! 
I don’t want it suddenly mandated that you have to wear them all the time outside away from the house and some particularly keen mask wearers seem to want to push for this....on social media sites and some scientists. 
Spain have done this and their infection rates are now going up much faster than ours so that’s an interesting observation. 
In Sweden where masks are only mandatory in certain indoor scenarios etc they have the least number of new infections in Europe just at the moment another interesting observation! 
So perhaps the Swedish rather than Spanish route? 
Ive always gone along with the Gov regulations so far but they do seem to have a few knee jerk reactions. 
Im happy to wear a mask when and where required but as you can probably tell will never be a big fan of them. 
In other countries more used to mask wearing in pre pandemic times people wore them if they thought they were ill or for pollution reasons not as a general rule...healthy people don’t use them. 

 

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