Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Donna Schoenherr - Founder and Director of  Ballet4life takes the floor

A little dark and rainy evening hello to everyone! I wanted to let everyone know that we are now having guest bloggers on a regular basis. SO if there is something you want to shout out about or are curious about please let me know and we can give you a slot here!

It is all about dance, wellbeing, ballet, health, support, community, taking care of yourselves,  each other and our beautiful planet!

20 November
Neither here nor there!

Hello everyone,

Hope this finds you all well, staying warm, dry, and having a nice Autumn. I cannot begin to tell you all how busy this term has been! Every day it seems like an exciting surprise flies in and lands on my lap! I am so grateful and inspired by developments with Ballet4life and with our charity Move into Wellbeing®. Hard work, dedication, and perseverance DO pay off!

We also welcomed a new teacher to our roster and continue to diversify our broad range of top-quality dance tuition! Here is Ioanna Bili working with one of our Int/Adv dancers, Mary.

As some of you may know, we now teach MiW classes with full support from Hounslow Council at a lovely venue in Brentford. The class is so popular and well attended that we were invited to hold a second weekly class too. I went along yesterday to observe and am so pleased with what Chris is doing and with the attendee’s output and enthusiasm. Great stuff! #danceforall #danceforhealth

MiW class in Brentford

Beatrice, our lead teacher, is now offering a new Monday morning Int/ Adv ballet class in Greenwich which is building up nicely. She and I are also working on an invitation to offer MiW classes in Greenwich, so watch this space! Very exciting!

Our new classes in Chiswick, W4 are building nicely and we are working hard on spreading the news so everyone can benefit from having dance in their lives as a tool for better health and wellbeing. We just did a big campaign and contacted all GP practices in the area! Dance works- believe me! It helps the following: reduce BP, reduce stress, increase general fitness, increase flexibility, mental acuity, improve balance and confidence, improve coordination
, produce the feel-good hormones that last long after class. Our classes also provide an outlet for people to meet, form friendships, and to have a social network. VITAL elements for a balanced lifestyle!

I am on a committee and our group is called “Chiswick Together.” We have been brainstorming since last spring about ways to help deal with this topic of isolation and loneliness in our own community. Our first series of free coffee meetings has started. This happens on Wednesdays from 12-2pm at Christ Church, Chiswick.

Yesterday I met with one of my formative ballet teachers from my early days of training. I had the privilege and honour to have Mr David Gayle MBE train me for over two years at my wonderful school The Enid Botsford School in Rochester, NY.

David not only was a distinguished professional ballet dancer with Royal Ballet amongst other illustrious companies, but he also set off at an early age to forge his way in teaching, and organisation of big dance events and to create dance organisations, He founded the highly respected Yorkshire Ballet Seminars.

For over thirty years this was a hot spot for major talent and inspiration, the carrying on of traditions and knowledge, and cross-pollination. The current director of the Royal Ballet was one of David’s much-loved students. David has so much knowledge and so many stories. I had a truly delightful time visiting him drinking tea from fine china cups, watching ballet videos and listening to the rain pummel his flat’s windows. When he escorted me to the gate for my departure home and the wind was roaring, our umbrellas breaking, rain coming down steadily he said heartily “This is a Yorkshire weather and I love it!” I am working on getting David to come do a ballet /dance themed Q and A in the New Year! Hopefully, I win him over to the idea.

Mr David Gayle, MBE with Donna a few years ago

Next up is artist Charlotte Fawley’s showing of her dance themed art on Saturday 24 November at the studio at St. Peter’s Hall, W4 1BB and our 50+ dance OPEN STUDIO on 4th December.

Charlotte’s Christmas card will be on offer.

I look forward to seeing you all soon!

With best wishes,


Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Fond reflections on the summer and our extra week of classes from J of S & J talk ballet!
#silverswans #goldenswans #nevertoolate #nevertooold #balletforadults

Hi, Julia reporting here.
What an amazing summer term it has been at ballet4life; all classes have been well attended and greatly enjoyed by all!
We were fortunate to have our term extended for one extra week by our inspirational Director Donna,  which enabled us to really have a treat that broadened our ballet horizons!!
Mark and Beatrice were to be our teachers and we were scheduled to enjoy alternate classes of ballet and contemporary dance. BUT...the highlight of the week arranged for us by Donna, and taught by Beatrice, was to be the choreography from the Ballet 'Raymonda', act 3, last Variation.     

This dance, then demonstrated by Bea was alluring to watch, the music captivating and we were, to say the least.......apprehensive!!  But primed to give it our best inner ballerina shot! So over the next allotted days of rehearsal, we swayed  and whirled back and forth, and clapped our hands in a similar fashion to that of a cymbal player in an orchestra, (but hopefully with more elegance!!)

Working together in a group but giving the dance our own individual twist, encouraged us to be confident and really go for it, and by the final day we all felt as if we had achieved our goal, and are now ready to stand in if ever we get that  call, (joke of course!) Seriously though our admiration of ballerinas has grown immensely in the last week. They are ace!

I am now looking forward to forging ahead into the Autumn term. We learn so much, but it is always fun. So over and out, and hopefully see and welcome you at a Ballet4life class. 

Photos from our Spring Showcase, courtesy of Linda Shaw.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Saturday Beginner Pointe Class


Today we have the lovely Susan, the S of "S and J Talk Ballet" giving some thoughts about the Beginner Pointe class held on Saturdays from 12.15- 12.45pm at the Arts Educational School, 14 Bath Road, London W4 1LY. It is taught by the wonderful dance artist, teacher Mark Kimmett/Kelly.

This class was created with adult learners in mind and it is important to take the Beginner Improvers Ballet class beforehand to ensure proper preparation for the body is in the place!

Any queries? Please contact Ballet4life on ballet4lifeuk@gmail.com

Take it away Susan!

We are nearly at the end of another term and the pointe class at Arts Ed has seen new dancers join during this term. Mark manages the class in his own unique way so that everyone attending is treated as an individual so that nobody is held back nor anyone new is left feeling rushed. Some members are now able to undertake the centre exercises on pointe while others are on demi-pointe. Last Saturday Mark offered to partner each of us individually, everyone took up his invitation and I am sure I was not the only one to have enjoyed the experience. I must admit for that brief time it made me feel like a ‘proper ballerina’! ( We can all dream )

Mark seems pleased with our progress and I am sure we can all highlight things we can do now that we were unable to do at the beginning of the term.
Thank you, Mark, for your boundless help and support. 

Following the pointe class this Saturday (11th August) everyone is welcome to meet for an end of term drink at 1pm. 

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

We have the exciting news of a guest blogger - P as in Patricia! She is celebrating her first year of dancing with Ballet4life and wrote the following lovely piece. Thanks, Patricia!

Ballet4Life- My First Year

The time has gone so quickly, I can’t believe I’ve done a whole year of ballet and dance as a complete beginner. So this seems like an excellent time to give a big thank you to all the wonderful teachers at B4L.

I have found the tuition has been first rate, truly professional yet enjoyable as well. I am delighted with the progress being made by myself and my classmates. As a bonus I have made lots of new friends of all ages.

I have also been surprised at the restorative nature of the dance class. Attending these classes has done wonders for my health both in body and mind. Backache, which I used to get regularly, has disappeared over the year. I have found the regular exercise and the concentration required to learn a new skill have brought about life-enhancing effects, raising self-esteem and produced a sense of being part of a real world again which can be hard to keep hold of when you retire. During a typical class you forget your worries for a while and emerge in a better place to face the world.

So, thank you to Donna and her lovely team for all your talented tuition, professionalism, and kindness with one or two laughs in between.

Hope you have a lovely Summer break and continued success.

Patricia with her classmates on a Complete Beginner Course  Autumn 2017

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

J as in Julia is back and reporting on her watching the creation of the recent choreography and performances.

Hi all dancers,

Julia here reporting on a splendid opportunity that arose for me a few months back when I was invited to view a brand new Ballet4life undertaking, which was being newly choreographed by its multi-talented Director Donna Schoenherr.

The ballet was Apollon Musag├Ęte and was to be set to the emotionally charged music of Stravinsky... But this was to be a unique performance, as the renowned Nonesuch Orchestra would be accompanying the dancers live, and the monies raised for all performances were to go to four local charities!

As the weeks passed, I observed the talents and confidence of the four dancers blossoming, and I was really impressed by their dedication to the direction and mentoring, given by Donna.

This  Ballet follows the mythical tale of the god Apollo, played by Chris Christodoulou and his three muses Polyhymnia, Calliope and Terpsichore, brilliantly portrayed by Alina Luts, Sonia Bartlett and Beatrice Ghezzi; and their quest to impress him with their various talents!

Before long the performance dates had arrived, the first of these was to be performed mainly to local schools in the W4 area, on June 21st at St Michael and All Angels Church, Chiswick W4. This was really well attended and it was noted that the front row of children was mesmerised by the beauty of the piece!

The next and final performance was at St Peter's Church, Chiswick W4 and was a complete sell-out and a most wonderful evening, a resounding success!

In all, the performances were immensely enjoyed by approximately an audience of over 300!!
This brilliant evening was a combination of factors that worked together to achieve this success, such as an inspiring mentor, dedicated dancers, fabulous orchestra and an audience, of which I was one, that really appreciated all these Arts!

What will be next I wonder....enjoy your dancing! Julia

The first four photographs below courtesy of Linda Shaw and are owned by Ballet4life. These are not to be to be reproduced without prior permission. They are from the 23rd June performance at St. Peter's Church with Nonesuch Orchestra. 
The other photographs are copyright Ballet4life and are from rehearsals in the church and in St. Peter's Church Hall ( with thanks to the church )  prior to the 23rd June performance. 

Thursday, 28 June 2018

After taking care of some serious family matters, Susan the S of S & J Talk Ballet, is back to share some of her tips and recommendations!

Over to Susan!

The pointe class with former Rambert Dance Company and Scottish Ballet dancer Mark Kelly/Kimmett continues to have a stable number of core participants ( although there is always room for more ). The class usually begins with centre work now before going to the barre and we are managing to execute more of the exercises on pointe, including bourrees though there is always the option of being on demi-pointe should we wish. Mark continues to give individually tailored support as and when necessary. I think we all feel that we are making progress. I personally am still struggling with my shoe ribbons with the elastic insert but I am determined to master them rather than removing them and attaching regular ribbons.

On a recent shopping trip after walking through the perfume hall of a large department store, I found myself with a handful of perfumed cards that had been thrust in my hands from every angle! I thought it quite a waste to put them in the bin but what to do with them? I then had the idea that if I put them inside my shoes ( my ballet shoes included) it might make them smell nice. Well, my theory worked so now I know what to do with these cards in the future.

There are some free open-air dance events taking place in Hayes, Middlesex over the next few weeks. the events take place very close to Hayes & Harlington Station and are held at 2.30 & 6.30 pm. These are free non-ticket events so just turn up. 
 4th July is MotionHouse & No Fit State: Block this is spectacular dance and acrobatics all set on, in and around a giant Jenga structure.
18th July is C-12 Dance Theatre: Trolleys. A fast and furious dance theatre - 5 guys with shopping trolleys, trampoline and acrobatics!
1st August Joli Vyann : Lance Moi EnL’Air. An engaging & impressive dance performance about the ups and downs of a couple’s relationship which is ultimately built on trust.
29th August Cie Concordance: Bug ’N’ Buzz. A couple meet on a blind date. One is a dancer and one a musician who creates a soundtrack from cutlery and beatboxing.

For more details visit Hayes outdoor.org.uk