Scottish ballet dancers get creative to remain en pointe in lockdown

Ballet dancers have been creating makeshift studios at home using mantelpieces and chairs to keep themselves in condition during lockdown.
Scottish Ballet of soloist Claire Souet working from home.Scottish Ballet of soloist Claire Souet working from home.
Scottish Ballet of soloist Claire Souet working from home.

Dancers from Scottish Ballet have not been able to train at their base at the Tramway in Glasgow due to the restrictions and have been keeping in touch with classes on Zoom.

With no special barre – the handrail used for support during exercises – in their homes, the 40 dancers have made do with holding on to pieces of furniture for balance.

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Each dancer has also been given a piece of dance floor, cut up after being used on tour in Korea with a previous production, to ensure they have the right grip for their feet.

The company has now launched a fundraising Back to the Barre appeal to raise money to buy a portable barre for each dancer and ensure they can train safely at home with the correct equipment, and to purchase items such as mini trampolines and free weights for them.

Scottish Ballet artistic director Christopher Hampson said it is important for the dancers to maintain their strength during lockdown.

He said: “The dancers have been training to maintain their condition and strength, they need that to be ready for restarting.

“While it’s good for athletes and artists to take a little break from their craft, the strength starts to go after a couple of weeks so it’s really important that we are able to get them access to their daily training.”

He added: “Maintaining their strength and condition is one of the specific challenges, we are asking people to find spaces in their flats and wherever they are living.

“We are trying to get them barres because people are having to hold on to mantelpieces or backs of chairs or nothing at all.

“Anyone training in any discipline will need certain standards of equipment to be able to practise and when you are having to make do with what you have at home and improvise that opens up the risk of injury or re-injury.

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“The back to the barre appeal will mean the dancers can train safely in their own homes with equipment we are able to buy and we know is safe.”

The dancers are also offered classes such as yoga and Pilates but they are not training at full capacity as they cannot practise things like lifting a partner or certain jumps at home.

Mr Hampson said the dancers have been “amazing” and shown “tremendous resilience” in adapting to the changes

Martin Lanfear, head of performance medicine at Scottish Ballet, said it hopes to provide dancers with equipment so they can replicate the studio environment at home.

He said: “We always want to train in as close to the environment we perform in as 
possible and by having a sturdy barre they will be able 
to replicate as closely as possible what they have in the studio.

“A barre at the right height is critically important for balletic posture.”

As lockdown restrictions start to ease, it is hoped some dancers will be able to get back into the studio within the next few weeks, alternating with some working at home to ensure social distancing.

It is not known when theatres will reopen but Mr Hampson said the dancers will continue to create new work which could be shared on digital platforms.

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