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U On Sunday

U on Sunday 10 June 2012, Page 5

Brisbane's Courier Mail recently had a great article about 2ballerinas and the experiences of Ann Parnell.  

Brisbane Courier Mail SmartEdition, U On Sunday - 10 Jun 2012 - Page #5


Main article:

Image caption: Piroette passion: Age is no barre for Ann Parnell who has rekindled a childhood love of ballet, using it to keep fit and supple.

'When I feel good about something that I can do my spirits just soar. It's a joyous experience'

You're never too old to learn a new trick. Just ask Ann Parnell who is loving her beginner ballet lessons, writes Elissa Lawrence.

She's mastered the pirouette. Her plie is good. Her grande jete is her most recent accomplishment. Just don't ask her to do a lame duck. 

Ann Parnell is a student of ballet. At 67, Parnell loves to challenge herself. She loves to push her body further, stretching and flexing, leaping and twirling. 

Parnell, of Yeronga, on Brisbane's westside, took ballet lessons as a child but rediscovered it five years ago when adult ballet school 2ballerinas set up shop.

She says she loves it. "It's a passion with me," Parnell says. 

"I regained some flexibility and some physical strength. Mentally, I had to focus so it was very stimulating for the grey cells. 

"In the beginning, I could hardly hang on to the chair and keep it upright. To do a plie was really something quite difficult. I had to go back to absolute beginners. 

"The discipline is very important to keep the body, mind and spirit all working together. 

"You have to be active. Use it or lose it. 

"It's believing in yourself and having the confidence to not worry about making a fool of yourself. 

"There's no such thing as that in our class. We all just do the best we can." 

Parnell, who says she also enjoys meditation, yoga, gardening, patchwork and her dogs — cocker spaniel Noah and shih tzu-cross Lula — says she thrives from challenging herself. 

She attends two ballet lessons a week and overcomes her nerves to perform in an end of year concert. 

She says she has her sights firmly set on her next goal — mastering the "lame duck", more technically known as a pirouette en dehors. 

"I am literally a lame duck at doing a lame duck. I cannot do a lame duck," Parnell says. 

"I have great difficulty. It is a challenge, but I will die before I give up. 

"I can do a plie, a pirouette, a pose pirouette, I have done my first grande jete about a month ago (a running leap doing leg splits in mid air). The young ones clapped! It was really exciting. 

"When I feel good about something that I can do, my spirits just soar. It's a joyous experience. Once you've done it you can say: 'I did it. I accomplished that.' 

"If I have something challenging me then yes, I do practise. I have a hallway at home so I can lame duck, lame duck, lame duck down the hallway. I know I'm going to do it. I won’t let it beat me. 

"I don't want to compete with anyone. I just want to do the best I can. But sometimes I think: if the young ones can do it, so can I. "I'll do ballet until I die. When I'm passionate about something, I really throw  myself into it."

Top inset:

Ballet in Australia

  • There are about 200 professional ballet dancers in Australia.
  • This year, The Australian Ballet celebrates 50 years. Its first performance was a production of Swan Lake on November 2, 1962, at Her Majesty's Theatre in Sydney.
  • It is estimated that 10 per cent of ballet performances in Russia are of Swan Lake.
  • The Dancers Company, the regional touring arm of The Australian Ballet tours to regional areas for about six weeks each year. Over the past 32 years it has given 680 performances in 65 locations.
  • There are about 4000 dance schools in Australia and about 320,000 young people who learn dance.
  • Young dancers under the age of 12 years usually do not wear pointe shoes because the bones in the feet are still soft and growing.
  • Almost all ballet movements stem from five basic arm and leg positions. When the feet are not on the floor, they are pointed.
  • Ballet emerged in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries as a dance interpretation of fencing.
Source: The Australian Ballet; Queensland Ballet; Ausdance.

Bottom inset:


2ballerinas was established in Brisbane as an adult ballet school in 2007 by former principal ballerinas of the Queensland Ballet- Rosetta Cook and Michelle Giammichele. All levels of classes are available - from beginner to elite - and are open to anyone aged 16 years or over of any skill level. All teachers are ex- professional ballet dancers.

Last year, 2ballerinas teamed up with the Queensland Ballet to offer some classes at the Queensland Ballet studios at the Thomas Dixon Centre in West End as well as at their dance studios in Bardon.

About 285 students a week attend 19 different dance classes on offer. Classes will be offered on the Gold Coast from August.

For more information, visit 2ballerinas.com, email info@2ballerinas.com, or phone 0428 672 920.

By Elissa Lawrence.

Image Credits: Mark Cranitch

Brisbane Courier Mail SmartEdition, U On Sunday - 10 Jun 2012 - Page #5

top Last modified: Wed 7 Aug 2013