“I have been dancing at Sydney Dance Company for 17 years… I think I have made more progress in the last two months than in the last 17 years. Dancing every day will do it!”
This week, we sat down for an online chat with one of our longest attending dance class members, Judi LeVine. She is a friendly and familiar face to our studio reception team and teachers. The lock down did not get in the way of her love of dance and she is currently dancing daily in the Virtual Studio. Together with husband Steven, she set up a beautiful studio at home with ballet barres and mirrors, maximising the at-home Virtual Studio experience. Read on to learn about Judi’s childhood in 1950s New York and enjoy her beautiful vintage photos.
Dance has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a two-year-old, I told my mum “but I can’t dance in overalls!”. As a child I started ballet, just as a hobby as exams and levels weren’t common at that time. As a teenager I switched to contemporary, then back to ballet and was on and off as an adult. When we moved to Australia in 2001, I thought about starting classes again, but I was very busy with my teaching career in a new country. However, in 2004 I was given the best gift I have ever received, a class pack of tickets to Sydney Dance Company! I started with ballet and added tap a few years later. It has become such an important part of my life in so many ways. When I have not been attending dance classes myself, I have always been in the audience. I grew up outside of New York City and from an early age was attending performances of American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. I am privileged to have seen the greatest dancers of my generation perform — Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, and Gelsey Kirkland, to name a few. I am still an avid performance fan.
I think all dancers, even hobby dancers such as myself, just have to dance. It gives me joy, inner peace, and of course, great exercise. A dance class is like a little holiday from the real world! Dancing with Sydney Dance Company has also given me friends and has made me feel part of a dance community. I have been dancing with you for 17 years… I think I have made more progress in the last two months than in the last 17 years. Dancing every day will do it!
I attend ballet, either beginner or intermediate or the equivalent, and beginner or intermediate tap. Ballet has always been my ‘staple’ and first love but adding tap has been great. It is such a happy style of dance and easy to progress as an adult.
The amazing Kristian, my first ballet teacher at Sydney Dance Company used to say “Ballet is simple, but not easy.” That says it all! If only my body could dance as well as my brain! I also appreciate how most of the teachers admonish us to move beyond marking and “dance it!”
I love that I can keep dancing when we are in isolation, that I can take class every day, and that it provides a connection with the Sydney Dance Company community. I find that dance classes keep me focussed and positive, and provide an interesting form of indoor exercise, developing posture and strength in a way that other exercise does not. It is also lovely to get to know some wonderful new teachers, and watching them demonstrate the steps and exercises is not only inspiring but also a bit like having a private dance concert in my very own home.
I can take many more classes, and to my surprise, I am finding that some of my dance skills are actually improving. I live quite far from the studios and lead a pretty busy life, and it would never be possible for me to go to the studio every day. With Virtual Classes there is no commute and they can fit into my schedule. Since I am recovering from an injury, it is easy to adapt a step if I need to and I don’t feel self-conscious about being the only one in class not doing something. And, if I completely mess up a step or get a bit silly in the middle, nobody sees!
While we are isolated, I would think that the Virtual Classes will appeal to any Sydney Dance Company student who is missing dance in the studio or anyone at all who wants to dance. They will also appeal to people who have been looking for an opportunity to participate in dance classes but do not have them nearby, such as in regional areas or other states. They can try a new style of dance without feeling self-conscious going into a class, or if they simply want an introduction to dance from the comfort and privacy of home. The Virtual Classes will continue to appeal to dancers even after the studios reopen to access classes when they cannot attend a studio and additional classes in between studio visits.
Book now and give it a go!
I am looking forward to returning to the physical studio as soon as possible, but as I am older and must take a very long public transport commute, I might not be able to start coming to class all that quickly. However, when I do, I will still want to take virtual classes as I can take so many more classes and use the virtual classes to reinforce what I am learning and practicing in the studio.