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Northern News Services
Published Thursday, November 20, 2008
At their weekly class the students wearing leotards and leggings, mostly in pink or black, quickly arrange themselves along the bars on the walls when instructor Daniele Gregoire calls them to order.
For the next 45 minutes the students carefully watch and mimic Gregoire as she leads them through a series of exercises focusing on the five basic ballet positions for feet and arms. Gregoire calls out instructions and praise in French, using English sparingly.
At the end of the class the six students who attended that day talk and giggle amongst themselves while snacking on the provided yogurt cups and bottled water.
Sarah Verge, nine, like many young girls always wanted to learn ballet. Verge said she was excited when she found out classes were being offered in Fort Simpson.
"My mom asked me if I want to join and I said yes," said Verge.
Everything including the outfits, the music and the dance form are part of the excitement for Verge.
"It's fun," she said.
Lia Fabre-Dimsdale, eight, has a similar story.
"I always wanted to do ballet," she said.
Fabre-Dimsdale said she's enjoying learning about ballet and doing the exercises to improve her dancing.
There are nine students between the ages of three to 11 enrolled in the class that started in October and will run into the spring.
The ballet class is being offered through a partnership between Deh Cho Health and Social Services and the Health, Fitness and Fun Society.
"There's so much to learn," said instructor Daniele Gregoire.
For now the students are just learning the basics but even on this introductory level the study of ballet offers a lot of benefits, said Gregoire.
Dancing ballet helps increase focus and concentration, improve posture and flexibility and develop strength.
"They're sculpting their bodies," she said.
Ballet can help students maintain a healthy weight, said Gregoire. If the students decide to try another dance form their introduction to ballet will also give them a strong base to build on, she said.
Gregoire's own dance background started in Jazz before she took up ballet at the age of seven and started pursuing it seriously five years later.
Gregoire encourages both girls and boys to try ballet. There is currently one male student in the class. Ballet is not just for women, she said.
"It's not a feminine job," said Gregoire. "It's very physical and very demanding."