On pointe at Royal Dance Academy ballet exams
BIRGIT Lohmann and Glenda Campi are the first Queenslanders to complete the Royal Dance Academy's (RAD) Discovering Repertoire Level 2 exams.
That's a special achievement in its own right, but what is even more outstanding is that both these Coast residents are in their 60s and were the only ones in that age group being examined.
The women have been learning classical ballet with Lyn Fitzsimons at her Adult Dance Circle studio in Maroochydore.
While Glenda, who is in her late 60s, learnt ballet as a youngster, Birgit really only came to it 18 months ago.
"I had dabbled in ballet over the years, but never done it formally as a child," Birgit, 61, said. "A few times I went and joined classes for a while, but never really had the opportunity to stick at it for a longer term. When I retired last year I found Adult Dance Circle and saw it as an opportunity to spend time doing ballet."
Birgit knew the terminology and the positions so when Lyn offered her the chance to move from the intermediate to Discovering Repertoire class, which would lead to Birgit being examined, it pushed her to really learn and then test her ballet techniques.
The Discovering Repertoire classical ballet performance program allows dancers to learn and perform classical repertoire in smaller, less overwhelming units of work. Exams at three levels are offered as part of the syllabus, but not all schools make this option available.
The students learn small snippets of famous ballets like Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Coppelia. "They do breakdown and development exercises to then produce a variation and dance from some of the master ballets," Lyn explained. "There are a set of exercises which helps give them core strength, musicality and artistic side of things, and then the variation to perform at the end."
"They are just working towards something," Lyn added.
Birgit and Glenda studio trained three or four times a week in the lead-up to the exam and then did further study at home.
Birgit only just made it to the exam, which was judged by the creator of the Discovering Repertoire program. She discovered just after starting with ADC that she had injured her left knee and needed surgery. After six weeks Birgit returned to her training. "In terms of fitness it has been great and it has helped for flexibility," she said. "Mentally it varies between being really enjoyable and other times being so frustrating because you can't actually do what you want your body to do."
At the examination in Brisbane Birgit admitted she made a few mistakes, but generally felt comfortable with her effort. She is looking to train towards the next level but as to whether she could put herself up for more examination hasn't been decided. "It wasn't stressful, it was just more hoping that I did well and make my teacher proud. I am probably a perfectionist which I why I am hesitant to go to the next level," she added.
For those female and male seniors who want to just enjoy the experience of learning or returning to doing ballet, Lyn offers both the RAD accredited Silver Swan. "It's a creative group with similar interests and likes," Lyn said. "No experience is necessary. It's fun. We have a giggle. They work on posture, placement and coordination. GPs highly recommend my classes, especially the Silver Swans."
"It's good for mental and physical health," Lyn said. "You step into the ballet studio and you really don't have a second to think about anything else. It's a fun and inspiring."