Ballet fitness keeps students on toes

Published 2:10 pm Monday, April 4, 2011

Instructor Stevan Grebel encourages new ballet fitness student Ashley Desouzo in a warm-up barre routine. (Reporter photos/Jon Goering)

By KATIE HURST/ Lifestyles Editor

On Wednesday nights at Grebel Dance in Pelham, after parents have picked up their children from ballet, lyrical or modern dance class, a new group of dancers arrives.

Adults of all ages – professionals, students and parents – don leotards and tights and hit the dance floor to get a good workout and relive childhood dreams in Grebel’s new ballet fitness class.

Grebel Dance Studio dance instructor Stevan Grebel works with a student in the ballet fitness class on March 30.

Instructors Deborah and Stevan Grebel said they created the fitness class for adults when they noticed a growing interest in classical ballet for exercise.

“What with the popularity of ‘Black Swan’, this has gotten to be a big deal, ballet for fitness,” Deborah said. “Also people who have never got to dance, either because their parents wouldn’t let them or they couldn’t afford it, or people who gave it up – they want to fulfill that dream that they have. This is a great way to get a work out and fulfill that dream.”

Students in the class range in experience and ballet knowledge, but Stevan said anyone who is interested can pick up the moves.

As he helped students through a classic barre routine on March 30, Stevan crafted choreography appropriate for the students’ varying skill levels. He defined terms such as “plie” and “tondu” for ballet novices, while other students easily pick up the words and choreography.

No matter their skill level, students will leave with a good workout, Deborah said.

“It’s a good recipe for the body,” she said. “It helps with flexibility, quality of movement and posture.”

“We think it’s better than running around the block,” Stevan added.

The stretching movements of the choreography create long lines and strengthen core muscles, Stevan said. Unlike traditional workouts in the gym, ballet helps legs and arms become long and flexible instead of short and bulky, he said.

“A lot of people just exercise and they don’t know how,” he said. “How you exercise is very important – how you place your body. That’s why ballet is better because you know people are going to place correctly. No matter how you look at it, it’s a good workout.”

Grebel’s ballet fitness class is held Wednesdays from 7-8 p.m. and costs $50 for a six-week session or $10 per class for drop-ins. For more information on the class, visit or call 987-7234.