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STAYING FIT WITH DIGITAL BALLET: Best of ballet classes online from the UK, USA & Russia

Aktualisiert: 16. Feb. 2021

“You have to love dancing to stick to it. It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold, nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive.”

- Merce Cunningham

In these gloomy winter days, dancing and being physically active is indeed a good remedy against spleen and a big helper in feeling alive and energized, even if it seems that our lifes are put in a stand-by mode.

My first experience with online ballet classes dates back to the first lockdown in spring of last year, when the ballet studio I used to go to - Ballet for everyone based in Zürich Seefeld - was forced to go digital to be able to offer ballet classes to its members. Its owner Véronique Tomaccio is a charismatic ballet mistress, so I enjoyed her barre workouts on Zoom. In summer everyone was happy to return to real classes at the ballet studio, but in November the second lockdown hit Switzerland and I got curious to explore the literal explosion in variery of ballet classes and ballet inspired workouts available online. Here is my personal “best of” selection from the UK, USA and Russia presented in reverse engineering mode - from contemporary to modern to classical ballet.

BalletActive Taster Class on YouTube: Contemporary with Alleyne Dance | English National Ballet

English National Ballet has recently launched a home workout platform called BalletActive. For £9.99 a month – or £99.99 a year – you’ll get access to a variety of ballet and dance videos, from a beginners’ ballet series, to masterclasses and advanced lessons with London-based company’s AD dancer Tamara Rojo, but not only. You can sign up for a free 7 day trial here or hurry up and try out the Ballet Active Contemporary class with Alleyne Dance twins available for free on YouTube until this Saturday, 13 February 2021:

Be comfortable in the uncomfortable” is the motto of the duo. Through led improvisation to live guitar sounds the energetic twins lure you out of your comfort zone, so you can let loose and test the possibilities of your body. The goal for me was to find out where the movement will go, initiated by different body parts, starting with the head, followed by the shoulders, the elbows which are ought to set the direction of the movement for the rest of the body. The play with elements water and fire helped me to find points of reference in otherwise quite free improvisation mode.

We are not afraid to fall over, we fall over with style; Enjoy the moments being on the edge” the twins say to motivate the class participants in front of their screens. It is indeed better to fall over with style than to just fall over and maybe injur yourself, which is a flip side of all online classes without supervision of a professional trainer. For such classes I would definitely recommend to be careful and sure that all fragile objects of your interior are out of reach.

Modern ballet warm-up class on Instagram | Merce Cunningham Trust

Those of you who are interested in discovering modern ballet and try its warm-up technique should check the free Instagram class schedule on the website of Merce Cunningham Trust or go directly to its Instagram account, where you can find recordings of previous classes in the IGTV feed. At the moment the Cunningham Technique is taught daily on working days by former members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at 11am (EST) / 5pm (GMT+1).

Merce Cunningham was one of the biggest innovators of modern ballet and his ballet class has its own unique structure with non-classical bounces, tilts and arches paired with classical ballet feet and arm positions. It starts with bounces followed by slow bends and stretches with focus on stretching the deep muscles of the legs and the back. The second section of the class is dedicated to stretching and strengthening the legs which involves circular movements, beats and lunges - and all that keeping up with a progressive speed. The main challenge is to cope with is adjusting the balance rapidly in an uneven rythm. Rapid changes of the rhythm is essential in Merce Cunningham’s ballet technique in order to keep the idea of flexibility alive. The final part of the ballet warm-up class is built around curved stretches.

To be able to follow quick sequences, I recommend to watch the explanative video of basic positions and technique in this video: Technique (basic positions) explained for beginners.

Maria Khoreva’s Fitness & Ballet classes on YouTube | Vaganova graduate & Mariinsky’s rising star

About two years ago Maria Khoreva graduated from the cradle of classical ballet - the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg and is now on her way to becoming one of the leading ballerinas of the Mariinsky Theatre. She won the 2020 Edition of “Grand Ballet” (Большой балет) casting show on the Russian TV channel Kultura, which is available with English subtitles here.

Moreover Khoreva is an important social media influencer with almost half a million followers on Instagram and 80K YouTube subscribers. She seems to not only be a highly gifted ballet dancer, but also an efficient marketer already saught after by major brands such as Nike, which is sponsoring some of her ballet workout videos. My favorite one is 40 minutes long dates back to April 2020 and is a good combination of ballet inspired elements, aerobics and pilates:

In the playlist FITNESS WITH MARIA KHOREVA you can also find shorter workouts focused on particular body parts, such as abs, arms and legs and stretching routines for different levels.

Ballet pros can also check the ballet technique tips, such as how to improve arabesque, turn-out, a la seconde and developpé. The good thing is that Maria’s social media content, including the YouTube videos are bilingual (Russian and English).

I hope that you enjoy dancing and working out and am excited to hear which of the three types of ballet and dance classes suits you the most - feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below!


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