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About the Change

....& Danceworks

by Margaret Lumley

Pineapple website

Danceworks website

Ian Knowles website

If you have just got to do Class on holiday - here is where you do it in London

The 'Miss a class' saying had to be from a marketing man
Marketing men from the major dance studios must be thankful for the saying 'Miss a class and you will notice,miss two classes and your teacher will notice,miss three and the audience will notice' to help fill classes. Although such is the almost religious devotion to the vocation dancers and students need little encouragement to do class even on holiday. Dancers get to know the studios by word of mouth. New York has 'Steps',Paris has 'Studio du Marais' and London has 'Pineapple'.

Class is an aspirational experience - just don't expect RAD set work
Word of mouth is not always completely accurate. London actually has Pineapple and Danceworks. Both are well established and very well attended- (but more of that later). It is advisable for students if possible to observe the class before they take part. Classes are completely free work and for those who are accustomed to RAD set work - it gives the brain a work out too. It also makes you aware of where you are compared to others and not just your regular classmates.I remember the first time I saw a girl balance on pointe on one leg and another sail her leg up to her ears in an arabesque - it was aspirational. Many who go are resting between jobs or are using it as a workout before performing in a West End musical

You soak up the atmosphere in the Pineapple café
Pineapple ideally placed in Covent Garden opened its doors in 1976 and remains a mecca for dancers. You get a taste of what life is like for a performer.The sweat runs down the walls and you soak up the atmosphere in the café where you sometimes see the seamless human wallpaper of an army silently reading lines for a 3 part casting. It is a profession where straws of 'I will get a ballet or West end show contract' are clung to with a vice like grip - which tightens when they see famous faces who sometimes rehearse there.

There is a wide range of classes,the studios are well used, the changing facilties OK, but the toilets and showers have seen better days (not surprising when you get 1000 dancers through the door every day). However, is worth remembering that you are not going for the facilities, but for the teaching and the experience.

Up to date details of how to get there, class timetable is available on the website

Danceworks is perfectly placed
Danceworks is opposite the Selfridges clock in Oxford Street and is perfectly positioned for the shops. There is a wide range of classes but it is smaller and smarter than Pineapple and the changing facilities,showers etc are good.

Up to date details of how to get there, class timetable is available on the web site top 3 ballet classes

If you are looking for a good class but are wary of going into the Inter/Advanced/professional level these classes are recommended by

Pineapple - Ballet with Maggie Patterson
3.00-4.30 (Mon-Fri) (ring to check)
This can be taken by most who have studied ballet up to Elementary level. Maggie has a lovely teaching personality and sets the most innovative but simple combinations at the barre which she carries through to the centre.. She rarely corrects individually- but she does give teaching points for each exercise. There is a mixed age range (16-60)and the class is busy.Bring an alert brain and leave the pointe shoes and regulation ballet gear at home. Costs £5 and worth every penny.

photograph courtesy of Pineapple

Pineapple - Ballet with Ian Knowles
3.00-4.30 (occasionally) (ring to check)
When Maggie isn't there her classes are taken by Ian Knowles, the first you know about this is when you see a bear like man with a big smiling face behind a cash tin at the top of the café stairs. Ian's classes are demanding, he tends to set long combinations and you must concentrate to remember them (luckily the class is full of regulars and it is easy to copy). You can't fail to be touched by his charm and subtle humour which he uses to demonstrate. He even has his own web site It is worth checking this site out just to get an idea of the calibre of the teachers.

And finally one of the unsung heroes is Sean, who like Jonathan Still - (one of the best ballet pianists around) can make music sound so beautiful that you have just got to dance.

Danceworks- Ballet with Anna du Boisson
1.30-3.00 (ring to check)
Anna's class is thorough, demanding, very musical and full. Unusually,she includes a stretching section after the barre and press ups. It is advisable to get a spot where you can see her demonstrate.

Some classes are so popular you can't get a place

This is the up to date information at time of writing

Most classes are busy, but Nicky Bentley's 4.30 jazz class is a seething mass of people such is the popularity.

Most of the classes at Danceworks are very busy but the ones that have a sign in procedure because they get too busy are streetdance classes by Dennis Wonder and Hakeem Onibudo and Yogamonks taught by Jonathan Monks. For these classes Members can sign in all day the day the class is held and non members 1/2 hour before start of class.

And the last word if you do go to class - ENJOY

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