Pliés, dégagés and développés

| Jennifer Cutinha

Primo Ballerino, a newly founded student ballet association, finished the last of its open lessons yesterday. About twenty students took place at the barre, to take their first baby steps as would-be swan lake performers.

Photo by: Hung Nguyen

Primo Ballerino is an initiative by housemates (and now board members) Imre van Veldhoven, Tanja Kampman and Wibrich Boskma. Kampman: ‘When someone else was planning on starting a ballet association, but quit, we decided that we would start this association. Imre is already trained for 18 years and Wibrich and I really wanted to learn it.’ Considering the technicality of this dance form, the goal of the association is not to have the students master the dance form but for them to know and experience the ballet movements and eventually be able to showcase what they have learned.

Pas de Bourrée

The class yesterday consisted of approximately 20 students at the barre, all eager to find form and posture as they performed some of the basic ballet movements to classical ballet music. It began with deceptively simple body movements such as tendus, pliés, dégagés, relevés and développés and progressed towards some of the steps such as the pas de Bourrée. Not only was this a new experience for the non-ballet dancers but also quite the learning experience for the teacher, 17-year old Amarise Jazbek, whose prior experience has been teaching ballet to 4-7-year olds.

Although the lessons are offered at both a beginner and an advanced level, students can practically only belong to either level. Jazbek knows it can take years for beginners to make it to the advanced lesson. ‘I took ballet two to three times a week for an hour and a half. Here, there is only so much students can learn in an hour once a week. So, unless I see a real improvement, it is very unlikely that beginner students can actually move on to the advanced level.’

‘Learn something new’

The challenges do not stop non-ballet dancers from exploring this challenging dance form – both boys and girls alike. ‘I have never danced ballet before but it’s my second year being part of the hip-hop association,’ says Camilo IJspeert. ‘I think it is a nice opportunity to learn something new and I feel it is the basis to every dance. Although I don’t think that I will ever dance ballet after I’ve finished my study.’

Dennis Leek also shares a similar viewpoint. ‘I have been taking ballroom dancing for a year a half now. All the pointing and postures in ballet are fundamental in ballroom dancing as well, so I thought it would be fun to try it out.’

For advanced students, these lessons are a way to revive the fond memories of once performing the highly technical form of dance. That also goes for Ketki Srivastava. ‘I’ve taken ballet for 6 years back home in India and this is the dance form I have always enjoyed dancing, but then I had to stop. I’m really glad that I can get back to it again.’ With almost all the students registering after the open lesson, it looks like Primo Ballerino is headed towards a fine start.

Stay tuned

Sign up for our weekly newsletter.