With the focus on adult ballet this month, I thought it would be fun to highlight different voices from the large group of people out there who make up this demographic. The first is a student of my own, Lisa Blanchard…
1. How did you first get involved with ballet and what attracted you to it as an adult?
I first got involved with ballet when I took it as an elective during my freshman year of high school. As an adult, I joined your class because I was feeling stressed out and was looking for something interesting to do. I remembered how much I had enjoyed ballet back in high school and figured it would be a fun way to get some physical exercise as well.
2. How many classes are you currently taking per week?
I currently take one ballet class weekly. Occasionally, I will drop in to an open ballet class as a little treat.
3. What do you see as your biggest challenge as an adult ballet student?
My greatest challenge as an adult student is getting my mind and body to work together smoothly. I have to really concentrate on things that require the upper body and lower body to work independently like when changing arm positions during pas de cheval and petit battement!
4. What brings you the greatest joy as an adult ballet student?
Ballet gives me the unique feeling of being free and being empowered at the same time. That brings me tremendous joy.
5. Do you have any advice for other adult ballet students?
I’d advise the adult beginner to find an instructor who is really passionate about teaching ballet; otherwise, it might feel more like an exercise class. If you’re a visual learner, a good beginner’s book can be helpful. I liked “Ballet Basics” by Sandra Noll Hammond. Lastly, accept that it’s going to take a while to feel coordinated and strong, but if you’re committed to learning, you will be amazed at what you can do.
BIO: A native Chicagoan, Lisa Blanchard grew up on the Near West side, in the Taylor Street/UIC neighborhood.
After graduating from Robert Morris University, she entered the workforce as an administrative assistant in 1986, first at JMB Realty and later at the Leo Burnett Company, where she worked for over fifteen years.
In 2004, the happily married mother of two decided to leave the workforce, preferring instead to take on the great role of Director of Home Operations. She now lives in Oak Park, directing best-life scenarios for her family of four and immersing herself in most anything ballet-related.