"Anyone can take a ballet class without apprehension and appreciate it for the incredible workout it is."
Who doesn't want to have a ballerina body? After weeks of stuffing our faces with carbs and cakes, the Wrecked crew can't hide behind leggings and sweatshirts forever. If you find yourself skipping the gym, hold yourself accountable like Teddi from the Bev Hills Housewives and try something different. As much as you wish it did, 30 minutes on the elliptical isn't going to improve your balance, strength or endurance BUT The Ballet Spot on the Upper West Side of Manhattan will!
We sat down for an On the Wreckord interview with Founder of The Ballet Spot (and REAL LIFE ballerina) Eliza Tollett for an exclusive interview on her background, personal inspiration and what to expect from the class. Thankfully for us Wrecks, no prior dance experience is required!
THE WRECKORD: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? What led you to open The Ballet Spot on the Upper West Side?
ELIZA: I’m a currently working professional ballet dancer, and I have a passion for teaching ballet to adults. Currently, I perform professionally with Brooklyn Ballet and Thomas Ortiz Dance, and I am an American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 5. Initially, I received my ballet training from Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and also attended School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet School, and Miami City Ballet School. I hold a BFA in Dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and have performed professionally with both ballet and contemporary companies including New York Theatre Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Charlotte Ballet, Buggé Ballet, and Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance. My thesis is that if you can strip the precursor of judgment and idea of “perfection” from ballet, anyone can take a ballet class without apprehension and appreciate it for the incredible workout it is.
Ballet has been around for hundreds of years and ballet classes are continuously refined to maximize endurance, agility, beauty, and now in the 21st century, overall physical health. I have clients who are up to 80 years old! Some have been doing ballet their whole lives, and some started at a much later age. The coolest thing is that in my classes, these ladies are dancing next to 25 and 30 year olds, and everyone is getting the same incredible workout. Ballet doesn’t just burn tons of calories - it provides health benefits like balance, coordination, posture, and memory retention. It’s an incredible fitness routine to start at any age.
As a professional dancer, I take ballet every single day, and there is no other workout like it. I’ve tried the trendy fitness classes – everything from SoulCycle, to PureBarre, to Tracy Anderson, and they are definitely fun, but I’m always in more pain after class. People who regularly take these classes now will definitely need another fun cardio class that is good for their joints, their muscles, and their hearts. That’s where my class comes in! Ballet isn’t a trend - it is a centuries-old form of exercise that I want to share with the world.
THE WRECKORD: Some of us aren't the best dancers and might be scared to try the class. Are beginners and non-dancers comfortable taking the class?
ELIZA: This is basically a revamp of traditional follow-along dance fitness – instead of jazz and hip-hop as its basis, this class is ballet! No prior dance experience is required. All you need is exercise clothes, regular socks, and a positive attitude. When I created this class, I wanted to make sure it was a class that is accessible for anyone without any experience to take, but is also a great workout for adults who have had experience. These are 60-minute cardio ballet classes designed to be an incredible conditioning and endurance workout for non-dancers and dancers alike. The teacher dances with you the entire time, and guides you step by step through a full body warm-up and dances across the floor. There is also usually one dancer in class (an undercover assistant), who is pointed out as an extra person to follow if people can’t see the teacher. This is very helpful in larger classes. This class is definitely challenging (as all good fitness classes should be), but there is enough repetition that by the end of one class, everyone is able to dance. When I teach, I also take it, so I know how it feels and I can vouch for it being a healthy, safe, and incredible workout.
THE WRECKORD: What kind of music is played throughout the class?
ELIZA: The entire class is choreographed to piano renditions of pop, rock, and Broadway music, so you are inspired to keep moving, dancing, and definitely sweating!
THE WRECKORD: What's next for The Ballet Spot? Any upcoming projects or thoughts on the future or 2018?
ELIZA: I started this business in October 2017, and now in its third month, The Ballet Spot is growing. Beginning in January, we will offer 3 classes per week: Wednesday 7:30pm, Thursday 7:00pm, and Sunday 11:30am. In 2018, the schedule, classes, and curriculum will continue to expand to make it more appealing and accessible to a wider range of individuals. I also plan to train other dancers to teach class so that my clients can learn from and be inspired by other talented dancer/teachers. By the end of 2018, my goal is to have a storefront for The Ballet Spot and to offer several classes every day.
Also, keep an eye out for special Ballet Spot events where you can take class to live accompaniment! The Ballet Spot is located at 131 W 72nd St. #3R New York, NY