Week 11 – In which I danced with the Royal Ballet



Last time I was in ballet class I burst into tears!

Even in my early years, my dancing costumes had a certain 'je ne sais quoi' about them 

Even in my early years, my dancing costumes had a certain 'je ne sais quoi' about them 

I was 4 and in love with my tutu. We were doing frog hops, (please see ‘Week 4 Challenge’ – to spot a recurring theme in my life). Anyway, - I did it wrong. Every week. And got yelled at by the 16-year old teenager, who was running our class. I cried. A lot. After about a month or two my poor mother gave up on the project.



For one incredible evening, little uncoordinated me gets to dance with Kristen McNally, a soloist with the Royal Ballet in Covent Garden. Kristen, a choreographer in her own right, who is currently dancing the role of Bertha in Giselle, was infectious with her enthusiasm.

About 30 of us were lucky enough to get tickets for this week’s Insights session at the Royal Opera House. Of these 30, about a handful had no clue what we were doing, while the other participants were well versed in ballet jargon like ‘from first into fifth, Port de bras, Battement tendu, Sauté, Plié’ – translation somewhere along the lines of: shuffle your feet, wave your arms, drag one foot along the floor, jump, bend).


If you think my French is rusty, you don’t know what my limbs were like. While I love the idea of watching ballet and delight in the ballerina’s elegance and lightness of being, doing it myself was a whole different story. I got the giggles more often then not, when I realised I had done the entire sequence on the wrong foot or when my friend had managed to dance around her partner twice, in the time everybody else had done it once. Now that is an achievement in my books!


The room. The barre. The live piano player. And Kristen McNally.

Even my ballet bun didn’t help with the nerves. The set-up was quite impressive. But it was great fun to ‘play at it’. Knowing that it had no consequences if I did my études on the right or the wrong foot was very liberating. Trying something you haven’t done before, even if it gives you nervous giggles, builds confidence. Apart from weeks of dinner invitations, this experience has given me the pluck to try something new and put on super-tight dancing gear. 


Next week I will be raising money for Brain Tumour Research through 'Wear a Hat Day'.