Yolande Yorke-Edgell, artistic director of Yorke Dance Project - talks to us about the benefits of Ballet:

"As an almost 50-year-old professional dancer and teacher the one thing that has kept me fit and in good shape throughout has been taking regular dance classes that are either ballet or ballet barre, contemporary dance, and Pilates. I have tried other fitness techniques such as swimming, running and gym work but I have never felt as strong overall as when I am dancing.

There are so many benefits to taking regular dance classes. For one you are working your whole body not just individual body parts and beyond that it helps with memory, coordination, balance and it also gives you a cardiovascular work out! 

Ballet is also wonderful for flexibility. One of the best times to stretch is after a dance class when your muscles are nice and warm as the muscles can gain maximum benefit from stretching at this time.

Dancing makes me feel good physically. I always feel so lifted in my posture after class, not sinking into my hip. There is that sense of achievement when you can lift your leg a little more, do an extra turn or jump a little higher. By taking regular classes you can really see the improvement.

I teach ballet and contemporary classes to the company each day we rehearse. I always encourage them to think of the whole body moving. My mentor and resident choreographer Robert Cohan talks about the mind not being in the head but the mind being in the whole body. Sometimes it is easy to lose focus on the whole body moving and get stuck thinking just about turning out the leg for example. What you need to actually focus on is many things in addition to turning out the leg such as keeping the back strong and straight and the arms lifted etc etc. so you really need to focus the mind on the body as a whole.

My husband is an ex-professional football player [former England and Arsenal defender Lee Dixon] and he is in awe of the work we do as dancers. He has recently started to take Pilates classes as one of the dancers in the company Amy Thake is a wonderful teacher. Amy tends to give him exercises that she would give to dancers and he says he has never worked so hard. He says that his posture has completely changed.

Yorke Dance Project Yolande Edgell

We will get him into company ballet class next, watch this space!"

Internationally-renowned dancer and choreographer, Yolande Yorke-Edgell, brings to her repertory company a legacy that combines the roots of American contemporary dance with the first wave of contemporary dance in Britain. Her work with such luminaries as Bella LewitzkyRichard Alston and Robert Cohan grounds the company in a deep, physical understanding of where great contemporary dance comes from while inspiring Yorke Dance Project to strive forward.

See Yorke Dance Company's 'Rewind Forward' at Déda on Thursday 9 November. Tickets on sale now - priced at £12 (£10 concessions).



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