Pirouetting on those tiny feet

Ballet dancers in the making

Ballet dancers in the making  

MOST OF the energetic kids in Coimbatore can do freestyle dancing with a surprising amount of agility. Whether on stage or at a birthday party, they really let go of themselves, and enjoy the evening to the fullest. Some of the better dancers among the youngsters are experts not only in folk and traditional dances, but also in ballroom dances like foxtrot, quickstep, waltz and tango, to say nothing of Latin dances such as rumba, samba, jive and salsa.

At most of the big shows in town, whether it's a corporate event, a commercial entertainment or a charity performance, people have become quite used to seeing kids from "Footloose Edwin's Dance School'' on West Venkatasamy Road.

Among the charity shows they've done are Miss Coimbatore-98, Miss Cotton Queen-99, Kargil Charity Show, Miss Coimbatore-2000, Mega Model-2001, Samara-98 (a Round Table event), and the Red Cross of India Charity Show. They've also done a number of commercial shows most of them for automobile launches.

During the past few weeks, however, there's been a lot of excitement at the dance school, which has thrown open its doors to youngsters who want to learn ballet dancing. ``There are five basic positions that young dancers need to learn to put themselves on a firm footing,'' says M. Edwin, who has been running the school for the past ten years. "There is only one criteria for learning dance, and that is interest.'' Not surprisingly, Edwin has so far trained over 6,500 students, and choreographed over 190 dance shows in various places. At present, the dance school has over 500 students. All the children learning ballet are proud to be part of a new institution called `Eddy's School of International Ballet'.

Edwin, who is a research and development (R&D) engineer by profession, turned to choreography when he found there was enormous satisfaction in helping children learn to dance. ``Besides being an acquired skill, dancing is also a form of relaxation and social interaction. Dancers usually carry themselves well, have trim figures, and gain a lot of self-confidence because of their performances on stage,'' he says.

There are only two schools of dancing: French and Russian. Two syllabi are widely followed around the world. One is the Royal Academy of Dancing (RAD) syllabus, and the other is the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) syllabus.

``When learning dance, there is need to practice at home a lot. We can only teach the basics and provide guidance on getting the steps right. But the children need to practice,'' he explains. Learning from qualified teachers will prevent young dancers from sustaining injuries, or even just those aches and pains in the process.

Before starting ballet classes for children, Edwin trained for a year to become a certified teacher. He now holds a `Diploma from the Federal Academy of Ballet (DFAB)', and is qualified to teach the classical dance form. ``Ballet is all about grace, control and coordination,'' he says, and notes that the youngest of the ballet dance trainees is Pravathi, a UKG student. "She is the first student to get a pre-primary certificate under the Royal Academy of Dancing (RAD) syllabus,'' he adds.

During the ballet classes, all the youngsters wear typical ballet costumes, right down to the flexible ballet shoes that enable graceful footwork and smooth movement.

By Michael Raj A. A.

Photos: K. Ananthan

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