Ballet is everywhere at the moment – on stage, streamed live into cinemas nationwide and even popping up on your local gym timetable. People from all walks of life are finally appreciating what makes this art form so great.
Even the corporate world is catching on. Classical ballet is coming to your workplace. The past couple of years has seen an influx of traditional ballet and ballet-based classes, squarely aimed at the busy office worker. It might not seem an obvious combination, but pure classical ballet technique is the ultimate antidote to a high pressured, stressful working environment.
Ballet is at the forefront of disciplined art forms with its impeccable attention to detail, focus on improving physical strength and precise movement execution. The physical and mental focus required to complete a ballet class put it head and shoulders above a simple gym workout: this is a discipline that can help you perform better in every area of your life.
Unhealthy posture is often a given in the corporate environment, a result of hunching over a laptop or constantly dealing with tense situations. This contributes to existing stress and can cause back and neck pain and frequent headaches. Ballet’s continual movement patterns provide a graceful, lengthening fluidity that allows even the most inactive of office workers to stretch their stiff bodies and evaluate their posture.
Regular ballet practice has a myriad of mental benefits too. Uplifting classical music starts the hour as you focus on slowly raising your heart rate, prompting the release of the “happy hormone” serotonin. Themed exercises can help to improve memory and coordination and the class culminates with a relaxing cool-down and stretch to ease workers back into their day. The result is not only a reduction in stress levels, but also improved focus, determination and clarity.
The business benefits of ballet have not gone unnoticed: in fact, a number of household names, such as online retailer ASOS, have recently added ballet classes to the benefits available to employees.
I’ve taught everyone from CEOs and lawyers to designers, secretaries and journalists. While each job role is different, what ballet offers them is universally beneficial: an hour of much-needed time out, where they can focus on breathing and releasing muscle tension, work on their core stability and de-stress in a safe and familiar environment. Ballet targets the entire body and with practice, confidence soars as people recognise they are mastering a technique steeped in hundreds of years of tradition.
In a working environment where teamwork is essential and deadlines are constantly looming, I believe that ballet could dramatically improve employee wellbeing and transform the way we approach the working day. For years, many have believed that classical ballet is the domain of waif-like beings with god-given grace and flexibility. On the contrary. Under safe instruction, ballet is for everyone and anyone.