South Africa – Dance of the Blessed Spirits

Dance Hub, South Africa in performance

Several weeks ago, I had a very pleasant surprise in a communication from Susan Attfield, founder of Dance Hub – she’d communicated to me after finding this blog and sent me information on her adult ballet school in Pretoria, South Africa. I was most impressed with her dedication to ballet and the quality of her school – and that it’s for amateur adult ballet dancers, age 18 and over. And, in her own words. she “has 7 dancers taking adult ballet to an even higher level by doing actual live performances.” Recently, she’d written an article for publication about her school and gave me permission to post it on this blog. Here are portions of her article “Dance Hub, the only all amateur adult ballet studio in Pretoria, South Africa”.

“Dance Hub is the brainchild of Susan Attfield and was founded in January 2011. Currently Dance Hub has more than 40 dedicated adult amateur ballet dancers and several guest dancers per month. Dance Hub has 7 dancers taking adult ballet to an even higher level by doing actual live performances.

Dance Hub is the only all adult classical ballet studio in Pretoria, South Africa committed to adults older than 18 who love to do ballet on a non-competitive amateur level. We do ballet as older recreational dancers and for the pure enjoyment and love of movement and of course all the little things that is associated with ballet.

I started with ballet lessons for the very first time at age 40. It was my personal gift to myself when I turned 40. I ended loving and enjoying ballet so much that I wanted to share more opportunities with other adults. I started Dance Hub in Jan 2011 with one teacher and now employ three teachers. We offer 8 very structured classes per week and focus a lot on technique. I am not a teacher and would never like to teach – I love dancing too much and would like to stay a student. I am very proud of the level of teaching offered at Dance Hub and see how much more effort teachers put into some classes to make it adult appropriate. There is a fine line offering a great adult ballet class and causing injuries – they all know when to push and when to expect a little less. I am blessed with excellent teachers who are always willing to go the extra mile for adult ballet.

The biggest hurdle that a beginner adult recreational dancer has to overcome is their own personal anxiety about starting. Once adults start with ballet, they have made a huge leap of faith and the rest of their journey to personal growth can start. Ballet is very complicated. It is hard on older bodies; it’s super difficult and even taxing on the brain. Beginners learn to conquer their fear in ballet class and I often see how they blossom into confident people after only a few months. The changes in their bodies and attitudes are tremendous after a year!  I have the utmost respect for our students who persevere and in the end conquer ballet steps and own personal obstacles. The bottom line is to continue when you think you can’t. Too many adults stop after a couple of weeks and not because of injuries, because of self-doubt. It is terrible disappointing when someone stops with ballet at my studio. I want to almost force them to continue, but I can’t and have to respect their choices since they are adults with their own views on life.

Ballet gives you elegant lines, good posture, fantastic legs, toned muscles and a great confidence! No other… has personally given me so much pleasure and had such a strong positive influence in my life, business and personal growth.”

Susan also sent me a video of one of Dance Hub’s latest performances:  Dance of the Blessed Spirits, and I share it with you below:

Thank you Susan for your spirit and dedication — you’re an inspiration to us all.

Maintaining your Health to Keep Dancing

As an adult ballet dancer – considering myself at  an intermediate level – and a serious amateur at that, I think it’s worth saying that age should not be factor on whether you “feel” you should stop or get discouraged about dancing. In this blog, I am going to share with you my experiences on how I keep myself healthy to maintain limber joints and muscles so I can continue dancing.

Here is what I have found in my amateur ballet career – the  keyword is diet – keep it clean, as free of wheat, gluten and sugar as you can. Admittedly, I am human, so I occasionally have been known to “fall off the wagon” and indulge in a donut (or two)…  in general though, I focus on eating organic raw fruits and vegetables, healthy proteins and healthy fats. This helps keep the body free from inflammation – the precursor to degenerative disease – and in the long run will do a great deal toward keeping your joints and muscles young and flexible. I typically start out in the morning with a breakfast high in protein – and, as long as I do that, it keeps me going throughout my day.

Throughout the day I concentrate on smaller meals, oftentimes a snack is a handful of almonds, walnuts, filberts or a mixture of these or I might choose an apple, a cup of greek yogurt (yummy!) or raw or juiced vegetables. I also eat a full salad at some point in the day – the effect of raw vegetables really helps keep my skin feeling and looking its’ best, a definite plus and side benefit. Generally in the evening, I follow it with some protein, and again, raw fruit or vegetables. I eat very little or no bread – if I do, it’s gluten free.

I try to stay away from snacks before bed – unless I need something to help me unwind and sleep (and who doesn’t after those evening dance classes) – I have a great mixture of buttermilk powder that I mix in with hot water to make hot milk. I drink a cup of that and 30 – 60 minutes later, I’m asleep.  And, awake in the morning fresh and ready-to-go.

With these and other tips I’ll share in future blogs, are suggestions on ways to help keep your body healthy and ready for dance at any age.