Several Auburn students and members of the community are learning the age-old dancing style of ballet to unwind and stay in shape.
“I wanted to work my body in new ways,” said ballet student Marilyn Vogel, lecturer in the department of geosciences. “[Ballet] works your mind a lot and your body at the same time.”
Ballet lessons are held in the Frank Brown Recreation Center in Auburn most Tuesdays from 7-8 p.m. with a price of $10 per class. The classes are taught through the city of Auburn’s Department of Parks and Recreation by former professional dancer David Coleman.
“You don’t have to think about anything else but your body like moving the way that it’s supposed to,” said Adrienne King, junior in rehabilitation and disabilities studies. “You don’t have to think about school, or work, or anything.”
Coleman said ballet classes are traditionally an hour and a half long, but he had it condensed to an hour to help everyone’s schedule. The class is divided into two sections with the first thirty minutes being barre work and the second half being centre combinations and skills.
Barre is a French word which refers to the handrail that is used by ballet dancers for warming up and training exercises. The ballet exercises performed using a barre are often referred to as barre work.
“[Centre] is anything in the center where [dancers] are moving around,” Coleman said. “Anything in the center when we take the barres away.”
Coleman, who grew up in Auburn, has been dancing since the age of seven, and he began to learn classical ballet technique during his high school years. Coleman then spent several years after high school dancing for various dance companies including Montgomery Ballet before he went to the University of Alabama in Birmingham where he received a B.A. in dance with an emphasis on classical ballet technique.
Coleman said he was exposed very early to dancing in part because he came from a family of dancers.
“My whole family has been in the business of performing,” Coleman said. “My father, my mother, I have three older sisters who we all grew up dancing.”
Coleman now runs an online photo framing business, but he still teaches at various studios across Alabama and still occasionally performs on stage.
“[Dancing] is such a big part of my life that I definitely want to keep it in my life,” Coleman said.
Around a year ago, Coleman began teaching adult ballet lessons. Coleman says that he has about a dozen students at each lesson with ages ranging from 20-70.
“There’s times that I’ve been very grateful that as an adult, I can still dance professionally, and I want to be able to give that to other adults,” Coleman said.
Coleman said part of his inspiration for teaching adults came in 2013 when he performed in the annual Dancing Stars of East Alabama. Coleman and his partner, who was new to dancing, performed a pas de deux or two-person ballet dance and won Best Choreography.
“She wasn’t a dancer, but in only two and a half months’ time, I was able take her, train her, mold her into a dancer that won an award,” Coleman said. “That was actually one of the big motivating factors that made me want to teach adult ballet cause if I can do this with one person, I can do this with a group of people.”
Coleman said that, in the future, he wants to be able to provide all his students with performance opportunities.
“I’m very forgiving to the technique, but I also want to stay within the realm of precise technique,” Coleman said. “It’s more for the enjoyment of dancing than to prepare them for professional dance companies like you might do with kids.”
Senior in animal sciences Madison Gohlke said she found having something not school-related to focus on for an hour each week can really help relieve stress.
“After a ballet class, even if you’re a beginner, you’ve been dancing for an hour to classical music and you know, working with the beat of classical music and you leave the class feeling great, feeling cultured, feeling vibrant,” Coleman said.