Section: Features

Open to all: At the barre with the Kenyon Ballet Company

Open to all: At the barre with the Kenyon Ballet Company

Dancers of all skill levels are welcome at Open Ballets. | COURTESY OF BRITTANY LIN

If the last time you did ballet was when you were a toddler, but you have been wanting to give it another shot, the Kenyon Ballet Company (KBC) may have just the event for you. The spring 2024 semester marks the beginning of Open Ballets, hosted by the KBC every Sunday in the Bolton Dance Studio. 

The club was born from an idea Eve Currens ’25 and Clare Purdy ’25 had in the spring of 2022, inspired by DANCE 240: Directed Teaching. The class focused on how to teach dance and do community outreach, which motivated the pair to create the club. The idea was in the works for a few semesters, but is now fully active. Currens explained, “[KBC] is a great way to try something new or come back to something you love!”

Open Ballets currently do not have a set time due to the irregularities of the studio’s schedule, but the lessons are 75 minutes long and, as “open” implies, accommodate all skill levels. Faculty and staff are also welcome to join. Currens estimates the average attendance for Open Ballet will be around 20 people. “The first week there were 18 people… I was so excited,” she said. The leaders of the club take on the instructive role for the Open Ballets, not only giving them the opportunity to dance, but to teach as well. 

Though Currens appreciates the inclusive nature of Open Ballets, she explained a challenge posed by the varying experience levels: “You want to have things simple enough that beginning people won’t be overwhelmed and can still learn and have fun, but you want to make sure it’s still a challenge and fun for the advanced dancers as well.” The teachers combat this by offering modifications for each step, in a “challenge-by-choice” manner, Currens explained. For example, they could do the step from fifth instead of first, or keep their hands on their hips the whole time versus doing an arm movement. 

In addition to the Open Ballet sessions, the club hosts three other lessons during the week: Beginner, Intermediate/Advanced and Variations. Currens describes Variations as an opportunity to “learn little solos from famous ballets,” typically one every two weeks. Much like Open Ballet, these classes can be taken by anyone. “You can watch people who [are advanced] and there are also people who are just starting out, so it’s fun to have everyone there together,” Currens said.

KBC provides consistency for people interested in ballet, as Kenyon does not offer ballet as a class every semester. KBC provides a lighthearted space to get active and learn, and also serves as a supportive and welcoming place to dance. “That’s not how ballet is everywhere. That’s really sad and something that needs to change and is changing in a lot of places but there’s still a lot of work to be done with that,” Currens said. KBC is reshaping that reality, gradually combatting some of ballet’s stereotypes and inaccessibility. 

Currens said that for her, ballet is a “really good way to connect with [herself]” and “center and ground [herself].” Everyone who is interested is encouraged to stop by one of their many sessions and experience the joy of ballet. 


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