dance it out
Fun, fearless fitness: Where to find your rhythm in Austin
Dec 18, 2011 | 12:15 pm
"Rhythm is a Terrible Thing to Waste." That is what is on the back of Grace Holmes t-shirt as I await the start of my first ballet class at the Tapestry Dance Company.
I’m wondering if Grace has any idea just how much rhythm might be wasted on me. Grace is the director of Tapestry, which has both a professional dance company and an academy with dozens of classes for beginners through advanced, in everything from ballet and tap to belly dancing, flamenco and hip-hop.
I just hope that those few years of ballet class I had as a kid will pay off. I haven’t taken a classical form of dance class in decades. But I do remember the positions, once we go through them. Grace is patient and kind; this is a beginning class and so everyone is at some early level, although most of the others have been coming for a while. The class isn’t slowed down for myself and the other total newcomer, but it’s at a level that we can follow.
Ballet, like yoga, is fluid and beautiful — and like yoga, also requires much more strength than people think when just watching it. And I’m very thankful for all my yoga and pilates and bar work, when we get to the barre and place our ankles up on it.
The class is highly enjoyable, and I’m able to follow just about everything until we get to the very end. Then, Grace demonstrates a series of quickly changing poses that also involve movement, traveling across the dance floor. Here, my lack of experience kicks in and it’s difficult for me to follow the steps. I just try my best, and am inspired to come back.
The great thing about a place like Tapestry is that there are so many different types of classes, and at all levels, so it’s easy to pick something that is right for you. All of the staff and instructors are incredibly helpful and nice, and I felt welcome and comfortable from the beginning. And one of the best things about Tapestry is that every Saturday, the studio offers free intro to dance classes. They rotate the style of class; the first week of the month is tap, second is ballet, third is modern and fourth is jazz. So come check it out with other newcomers, with no obligation or cost.
Another wonderful place for dance instruction is Galaxy Dance Studios, which offers not only dance classes but also fitness instruction, youth camps and unique community events. In the week between Christmas and New Year, Galaxy is holding a Youth Xmas Break Hip Hop Camp.
The dance offerings at Galaxy are varied, with unusual classes such as burlesque, hoops and chi-lates. For my first class I decided to try a fitness class, just to get a feel for something different. I arrived at noon on a Tuesday for Bliss Fitness Flow with Adriene.
Bliss Fitness Flow is a playful sequence of poses and movement designed to strengthen the body and allow ease to flow in. By following the breath, participants tone, build core strength, increase flexibility and detoxify. It's a yoga/pilates inspired class that heats the body and focuses on both alignment and repetition, ending with a relaxing cool down to leave you calm and centered.
As someone who practices yoga a lot, and for many years, I did not find the class challenging. I did find it very centering and definitely received a low-level workout. I really enjoyed Adriene and her peaceful personality. She is an Austinite who grew up in theater and dance, and is also a yogi like myself. She began using yoga to warm up for dance performances, and noticed the change it made in her body and thoughts. She specializes in yoga for children, teaching it and Theater Arts at the Griffin School.
Adriene also leads the Community Wellness Practice at Galaxy, a cool offering that is a donation based, pay-what-you-can fitness class that focuses on alignment, strength and flexibility. This sort of class helps fulfill the Galaxy mission which aims to cultivate civic and social improvements through its offerings. It is a nonprofit organization that also makes available work-trade opportunities and tuition assistance to those who need it, trying to make dance and fitness accessible to all.
I am looking forward to my next experiences at Galaxy, and plan to try the West African drumming dance and the Broadway Jazz series.