GENTLE BALLET OPENS NEW DOORS FOR MATURE DANCERS
Virtual Gentle Ballet Promotes the Joy of Movement
To experience the joy of movement for as long as possible is all any dancer can hope for. While artists find their time on stage too fleeting, they remain creatively buoyed by the myriad of classes and workshops available In person and online nowadays.
It is, however, rare to come across a class designed to accommodate physical limitations and welcomes all ages into the studio. SF Ballet School has found a thoughtful solution for many older adults through its Virtual Gentle Ballet classes. Taught by SF Ballet School’s Cecelia Beam for the last four years, Gentle Ballet offers the benefits of a classical ballet technique class with gentle modifications to honor well-lived backs, hips, knees, and ankles.
These classes, which are designed for adults of all ages, recovering from an injury or have limited mobility, have created new opportunities while simultaneously fostering a genuine sense of solidarity for every student. “Cecelia has truly created a community among the regulars,” attests Harriet R. “The class means more to the participants than an exercise course only.”
In a traditional adult ballet class, an instructor’s elaborate techniques or the advanced experiences of other students could be intimidating for a new student. Gentle Ballet on Zoom eliminates these barriers by providing a curriculum that takes into account the many obstacles that older dancers may face with growing age, such as muscle atrophy or pacing issues. “I love dance, but I feel discouraged when I attempt standard classes because there is so much that I can’t do,” says Gentle Ballet student, Lacee S. “Cecelia’s class highlighted that there is still much that I CAN do, and I really appreciated that.”
Beam finds that the trick to achieving any physical fitness goal is to find pleasurable ways to maintain or increase flexibility, strength and balance. “After teaching ballet to young adults in higher education, I had the opportunity to teach adult ballet at a studio in the Bay Area, where I encountered students of all ages and abilities,” says Cecelia. “That experience taught me that with slight adaptations, active elders or people with physical limitations could successfully take and benefit from a traditional ballet technique class.”
Cecelia has transformed a traditional adult ballet class into a unique experience tailored solely for this target audience. “In Gentle Ballet, I make modifications such as limiting or excluding particularly strenuous ballet positions or exercises. For example, we skip deep knee bends such as grand pliés. We also maintain slow tempos, reduce the number of exercise repetitions, and adapt ballet barre stretches into seated chair stretches.”
Gentle Ballet’s transition into a solely virtual course has not impeded its enthusiastic fan base from showing its support. “Cecelia has mastered the art of teaching ballet on Zoom,” says student Jane W. “Gentle Ballet is a true gem.”
Starting in Fall 2023, SF Ballet School is offering Gentle Ballet as a redesigned Monthly Virtual Series, featuring sessions during the months of September, October, and November. Each monthly series will cost $60. Classes will occur on Zoom each Tuesday of the month from 2:30–3:30 PM. Class session dates are as follows:
September: 9/5, 9/12, 9/19, 9/26
October: 10/3, 10/10, 10/17, 10/24
November: 11/7, 11/14, 11/21, 11/28