Ballet, the art of dance

2018-01-31 06:00
Durban ballet teacher Kerry Simes.PHOTO: kalisha naicker

Durban ballet teacher Kerry Simes.PHOTO: kalisha naicker

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WHEN Durban ballet teacher Kerry Simes speaks about the art of dance, her face lights up as she explains that dance is not just a sport, it’s a way of life.

The Pietermaritzburg-born teacher got her first taste of the dance world at age five.

“My mom would drive me across town every weekday to my dance classes and wait in the car for hours until I was done. I took ballet, modern, tap and national so it was pretty time consuming. I wasn’t able to participate in any school sports as I was always busy with dance in some form or other.

“I moved to Durban when I was 18 and didn’t dance for a few years while I trying to orientate myself with my new surroundings and first job of waitressing, but I missed dancing dearly I started taking classes at a local school and it was then I decided I wanted to open a school of my own,” said Simes.

She began teachers’ training through the Dance Academy of South Africa (Dasa) in 2009 while working as a bar lady to finance it.

“I travelled to Pietermaritzburg once a week to do my teaching hours with a registered Dasa examiner and once a month I journeyed to Pretoria for a training session at the academy. It was in 2011 that my dance school, Le Dance Studio, opened its doors.”

Simes said her school started with nine students at a pre-primary school as an extramural and they progressed from there.

“We now have 12 schools and two studio venues we are renting. My aim is to one day buy a building to set up our permanent studio base with a dressing room, dance floors, mirrors, barres, the works. Maybe even a health bar and gym included. I am an absolute fitness fanatic.”

Simes described ballet as a discipline. “It is taught in progressive stages through the years. There is no quick fix or short cuts to it and I think that teaches children the value of patience, hard work and dedication. “It teaches them how to work with others, to take turns and to share as well as the responsibility of working independently. It equips them with the tools to get ahead in life. It requires a very strong technique.

“This technique is also needed for many other dance genres in order to execute the steps safely. I want to give my students the strong basis needed to explore other genres as well.

“Ballet builds strength and confidence. It improves flexibility, coordination, posture, focus, balance, and memory and muscle tone. We promote a healthy lifestyle that the children can benefit from long after classes ends.” In terms of ballet stereotyped as a female dance, Simes shuns this.

“That is a terrible stereotype. The strength, flexibility and muscle tone that male dancers develop would put even the toughest rugby players to shame.

“They have many big jumps in their repertoire where they have to appear as if it is effortless and look as though they are filled with helium, they do the heavy lifting of the ballerinas and make it look as if they weigh nothing.

“If you look at the male dancers in my favourite dance movie, Centre Stage, you’ll see what I mean.” She tells aspiring dancers to persist and persevere in everything they do.

“Work hard and don’t give up, no matter how tough it gets. The end result is well worth the work and the harder the work the bigger the reward because what you put in is what you get out.

“Don’t just practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong. Don’t set out to get a job just to make ends meet, turn your passion into a career and it won’t even seem like a job. You will wake up looking forward to every single day with enthusiasm, even the dreaded Monday.”

For more information about ballet or Simes Dance School, email KSimes@voda


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