“Through the Virtual Studio, Kate and I can still dance ballet together across the Nullarbor. We are reunited and it is wonderful.”
Separated by geography but reunited in Sydney Dance Company’s Virtual Studio, longtime dear friends and self-confessed ballet lovers Kate and Dian chat to us about the supporting role dance has played throughout their lives, and how the Virtual Studio has amplified their love of dance and opened doors to new and wonderful adventures.
An early love of Dance.
Both Kate and Dian have been dancing for as long as they can remember. From a young age, Dian’s mother cultivated her love of ballet with books on Margot Fontaine, Anna Pavlova and Violetta Elvin. Her family lived in the country without a car, so she had to walk a mile to catch the milk truck to town each Saturday morning for her ballet class. Dian always loved ballet and dreamed of becoming a ballerina and dancing at Sadler’s Wells with Margot. That dream didn’t eventuate, but work, family and life carried on. Around 10 years ago, after a 50-year hiatus, she reconnected with Ballet and consequently changed her life. At 74 years young, she has since attended many classes and even passed two RAD exams: Intermediate Foundation and Intermediate.
For Kate, it started with childhood weekend viewing on the black and white television, where she’d dance along with Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Shirley Temple and Judy Garland. She wasn’t allowed to take up formal ballet training until she turned six when her young feet were deemed ready.
Their mutual love of Dance.
Dian and Kate began their friendship through work initially; Kate is a doctor and Dian is a nurse, but they soon bonded over a mutual love of ballet, taking classes together and attending most performances by Queensland Ballet.
For Dian, dance ticks many boxes including a need for exercise, physical and mental health, and the setting and achieving of goals, but the key reason that ballet is her absolute love is the feeling that washes over her once the beautiful piano music begins; a feeling of peace, serenity and overwhelming love. She enters another world, a world where there is only beauty and love and she can imagine she is Margot Fontaine.
For Kate, dance is a recipe for joy; moving to music makes her feel happy and vibrant. It challenges her and keeps her feeling passionate about life. In her work as a doctor, she regularly endorses the benefits of movement and dance for overall wellbeing to anyone who will listen, and she is grateful to ‘Ballet Di’, as Dian is affectionately known in her household, for always encouraging her to keep dancing, and even at times ‘fibbing and telling me I am a good dancer to keep me on track.’
Discovering the Virtual Studio
Three years ago, Kate moved to Perth from the Gold Coast, meaning the two women were separated by the Nullarbor. They missed each other and although Dian still had her dance classes, Kate could not find a ballet class that fitted her tricky criteria; true ballet classes with real ballet music where they did not feel out of place.
Then Covid-19 came along, and everything stopped for everyone. Soon after, through a Google search, Kate found Sydney Dance Company’s Virtual Studio and excitedly bought the newcomer offer. She started one Sunday morning with back-to-back classes and within a couple of hours bought a flexipack so she could keep going. Kate contacted Dian about a ‘wonderful school’ she had discovered online and despite Dian initially feeling daunted by the prospect of anything online, both women signed up for monthly membership of unlimited classes.
“Through the Virtual Studio, Kate and I can still dance ballet together across the Nullarbor. We are reunited and it is wonderful. Sometimes we have a little fun in class, like pinning a sign to our top that says Hi Di, or Hi Kate.”
Dian’s love of ballet is renewed each Saturday with the 11 am and 5 pm Ballet Beginner classes. Both classes have ‘beautiful ballet music’ and provide her with exactly what she needs. While Kate is a regular in Ballet Beginner too, she has also tried just about every class on offer; Ballet Beginner and Intermediate Jazz, Tap, JFH, Hip Hop, Contemporary, Latin Funk, Strength and Conditioning, Stretch, Pilates, and Yoga.
Unexpectedly for both women, they have developed a newfound love for the Hip Hop class! Having never tried it before it is something Dian would never have dared outside the Virtual Studio, but she enjoys it, it makes her smile and feel happy, and with Hip Hop teacher Jayden’s advice ‘don’t worry if you can’t do the moves exactly as I do them, just do the best you can and enjoy yourself,’ she developed the confidence to just give it a go. She has started to feel like she is doing the moves.
Kate’s favourite pearls of wisdom are ‘invite your body to move’, ‘make the most of your footprint’ and the classic, ‘good dancing is like pizza, it’s all about the base’. Most importantly she feels encouraged to just have fun, which for her is vital, especially during these strange times.
What they’d tell a friend wanting to give the Virtual Studio a go.
Dian would ‘advise anyone who has the slightest interest in health, exercise or dance to just give it a go’. She dances for many reasons but loves that in the Virtual Studio, there is no judgement, no embarrassment, just encouragement to do your best. ‘I just love Sydney Dance Company and thank them for their Virtual Studio.’
Kate would say ‘you will enjoy just moving your body here, whether you are a dancer or not. It’s fun, it will keep you fit and is a great stress buster. Give it a go, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain!’