I met Melody Smith at Dance 101 in Atlanta when I ventured to take one of her Beginning Ballet Fit classes. It was one of first ballet classes I had taken as an adult, and though it’s been a while and the details of the class are fuzzy, I absolutely do remember watching Melody teach and thinking “How is she so stunning and how does she make it look so effortless and why am I not seething with jealousy?” I don’t know about the answers to the first and second questions. But I have a theory about the third – she’s a genuinely warm person that makes ballet seem less like an ice castle in the sky and more like a sport you show up to, get better at, and enjoy.
Ballet on Ice
I’ve been to ballet classes where the teachers were wonderful. But you still felt a slight chill from them. And it’s not that they were mean. They really wanted to help you learn, and they’re perfectly nice. But there’s maybe a subtle haughtiness. Or you never really felt quite like equals, even as everyday people. Maybe it’s the years of training in a highly competitive culture and always comparing. Or maybe it’s a personality that tends towards ballet and is cultivated to further the impression of being unattainable. Or maybe I do it to myself. I know I have a tendency to view professional ballerinas as other-wordly beings, putting them apart from myself. It’s not hard to go pedestal-crazy.
But in Melody’s class, the vibe was less icy, more approachable, less perfectionist. Don’t get me wrong. As a perfectionist, part of the reason I like ballet is that it feeds that inner need for validation with clear standards. But when you’re first learning for recreation or fitness, that can be incredibly intimidating on top of all the new vocabulary and movements that get thrown at you in even beginning classes. What I appreciate about Melody’s approach is that it makes that door to ballet a bit wider, which means more people get to experience its unique combination of physical, emotional, and mental stimulation.
Ballet Fitness at Home
So recently, I learned that Melody is opening another door and further broadening access to ballet fitness. She’s developed streaming classes offered through Ballet 24. Yay! For someone like me who can no longer take classes in person with her, I thought “Brilliant.” So I had to talk to her about the what, why, how, and how much.
You’ve been teaching classes for a while. How did you come up with the idea to stream classes on line? And why now?
Several of my friends and regular students have moved out of Atlanta over the years. A few have reached out over the years saying how they missed my class and wished there was a way to take from where they are. Streaming the classes online was a way to make class accessible to anyone who wants to take it! The “now” is a result of the time demands of parenting a toddler. Teaching dance has been my job for 13 years. Now I get to be with my daughter and do what I love for a living.
Can you walk through the concept? Will students be able to flip through the videos in an order they want or are the videos scheduled?
All subscribers will receive a newsletter every Tuesday with a new class every week for $30 per month. Once you have the link to the private video, you can take the class as many times and as often as you want. Say you have been a subscriber for 3 months; you would have links to at least 12 classes that you could take in any order, whenever you want. Once a subscriber has a collection of classes they can pick and choose based on how they are feeling that day.
Who is this ideally for? What do you hope students get out of Ballet 24?
This is for anyone who wants to learn and practice ballet. To anyone who always wanted to train but never got the chance, this is for you. For moms that can’t leave the house during nap time but really need a good dance class, this is for you. To the person that travels for work and would rather take a class on their iPad than watch TV, this is for you.
I hope that this gives my students an addictive and joyful endorphin rush. I hope that it makes them stronger, more confident in their physicality, and happier overall.
Do I need any special equipment, like a barre, to do this?
No. All you need is water and an Internet connection. There are a few upcoming classes where I use a barre, but the back of a chair, sofa, kitchen counter, or wall will work fine.
What is your history with dance and movement?
I grew up taking ballet and dancing. I have been teaching and performing professionally for the last 13 years.
What does “movement” mean to you?
Movement to me means being happy. I can’t be still for too long without feeling antsy. If ever I’m feeling stressed or down, movement will lift me up. I’m also grateful to be able. I don’t want to waste that or take it for granted.
Free Video Examples: http://ballet24.com/videos/