Ballet’s benefits strike chord
KEEPING ageing bodies strong, minds challenged and communities connected through Queensland Ballet's seniors program will soon be available to regional Queenslanders.
The Queensland Ballet (QB) Ballet for Seniors Regional Teacher Training program is set to start mid-year and will allow QB to extend the program's reach. The classes focus on improving core strength, poise, mobility and memory and address some of the challenges facing ageing populations, particularly social isolation and limited physical activity.
Delivered by highly skilled QB teaching artists, the program had been enabled by the John T Reid Charitable Trusts to provide professional development training to ballet teachers in Cairns, Mackay and Hervey Bay and on the Gold Coast. After a two-day training workshop, the regional dance teachers will be granted a licence to deliver seniors' classes in their communities.
Over the past 18 months, QB's Ballet for Seniors classes at its Brisbane studios has grown from one session a week to seven. There has been increased demand for regional classes following Seniors Week and a community regional tour.
The program's success stems from the way the classes make participants feel, says Queensland Ballet artistic director Li Cunxin (AO).
"From our research with QUT, we found our Ballet for Seniors participants experienced higher energy levels, greater flexibility, improved posture and an enhanced sense of achievement. They also felt happier and experienced a sense of community and friendship," Mr Li said.
"We truly believe that ballet is for everyone and are committed to sharing our beautiful art form with communities across the state.
"To go from having only four participants attend our first class to now having seven classes a week with waitlists is just amazing.''
Following an inner passion for the art form she never had the chance to pursue as a child, Vicki Lennox has been attending Intermediate Ballet for Seniors classes since August 2017.
"My posture has improved, my technique has improved, and I have met so many like-minded friends,'' Ms Lennox said. "It makes me feel elegant and fulfilled. I do this for me, it's for no one else.''
In Brisbane, Queensland Ballet also offers Jazz for Seniors, a class that draws from the world's popular jazz musicals. Designed to be suitable for beginner-level older adults, it involves no turns, floor work or jumps.
QB's popular classes for people living with Parkinson's disease are also open to partners, carers and family members. Find out more at queenslandballet.com.au. Information on the regional teacher training workshops will be available in March.