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Published November 8th 2012
Enhance your personal charms with a touch of courtly elegance.
Senior Dance Instructor and Director of Early Dance Consort, Fiona Garlick and John Barnard
When you see Audrey Hepburn appearing in movies, most people are likely to be attracted by her elegance and style. Apart from being born in a wealthy family, she was trained to be a ballet dancer before hitting the screen. Ballet contributed a lot to her straight-backed elegant beauty. Maybe that's why a lot of girls want to become ballet dancers when they are little. Maybe you still have the dream buried in your adult life and think you are too old to do all the jumping and stretching. I am glad to say that I have found an alternative solution for you, Court dance, or Renaissance and Baroque Dance. It is an early form of ballet dance but doesn't require a lot hard physical training to obtain the elegant, aristocratic style. I was fortunate to take a class with Fiona and her husband John, senior dance instructors and directors of the Early Dance Consort. The class is held on Thursday evenings from 6:00pm-7:45pm at St. Peter's Presbyterian Church Hall (181 Blues Point Road) in North Sydney.
the elegant body posture training: Ballet Barre(Wikipedia Image: Author: Lambtron)
The class begins with some routine warm-up exercises accompanied by some great pieces of early music, such as "Dorrington Lads" and "Bergamasca" by Gianoncelli (familiar from Respighi's "Ancient Airs & Dances"). The warm-up exercises are very easy to follow, and most people regardless of age and experience can catch up with the jumping, bending, skipping and running. But it is efficient enough to stretch our muscles and get our hearts ready for the next step.
During the class, it was Fiona who mainly gave instructions, while John demonstrated the steps for us, and you could see the harmonious teamwork between them as the couple have danced together for many years. I learnt four types of early European dances from the 16th and 17th centuries: a Ballet or Measure (for couples in line), a Round Dance (Branle Double or Gavotte), some lively Courante steps, and an English Country Dance for 3 couples, known as "Millison's Jig". The dance steps and routines are very geometrical with an emphasis on social etiquette; we were required to maintain our poised, straight-backed ballet posture during the whole class, and began an ended each dance with a bow or curtsey. The slow elegant turning and graceful walking have given me more understanding about the beauty of this early classical music as well. For one moment, I could imagine being a duchess dancing in the magnificent Mirror Gallery at the Palace of Versailles, being the centre of the whole world.
Fiona and John Performing Baroque Dance at French Circus Night, 2011
If you are one of the office professionals who sits slumped in front of the computer all the time, I would suggest trying Baroque dance to improve your body posture and you will be surprised at its head-turning effect and the confidence you gained in your charm and magnetism.
It is suggested that participants of the class need to wear Ballet flat for the Renaissance Dance and Character shoe with small heels for the Baroque Dance. For more details about the dance class and the Summer Course coming up in January, please visit Early Dance Consort website.