Pete Doherty and ballet are not a match at first glance. When you think of the Babyshambles front man, no images of tutus, ballet tights and plies come to mind. But believe it or not: Pete Doherty has to do with the concept of Fit’Ballet.
As part of their tour, the Babyshambles had hired two ballerinas to dance live on stage to one of their final songs. And it was one of the two ballerinas that came up with the concept for Fit’Ballet during the tour. A workout concept that is slowly spreading from her hometown Paris to all cities in Europe.
Lucie Peixoto Rodrigues from Studio.Sonic teaches Fit’Ballet in Berlin. Her closest friend, Octavie Escure, is the dancer who came up with the idea. “She’s one of my best friends from ballet school,” says Lucy. “Octavie started Fit’Ballet about six years ago in Paris. She had previously danced with Pete Doherty’s performances for three years – with the Babyshambles, Libertines and his solo album. She loved it. ”
Lucie explains how Fit’Ballet came about after Octavie looked for a fitness routine away from the ballet studio. “She wanted to find exercises that would warm up and keep her in shape while she was on tour. Of course, there was no pole or ballet floor and the performances were in pointe shoes – which is almost impossible on stage. She did it anyway with all the musicians around her, the beer on the floor and all other things. ”
Fit’Ballet is Octavie’s warm-up routine and includes all the typical movements that you will also find in classical ballet, but with additional strengthening and endurance elements. “When Octavie came back to Paris, she first started with classes for friends and then more and more people came – that’s how it all started with Fit’Ballet,” says Lucie.
If Lucie could be an animal, she would want to be a swan. It’s all about length and elegance. Her neck is long and her back is erect like that of a toy soldier. Her French accent and slow opening of the eyes give her that confident manner that only trained ballet dancers have. Lucie’s journey that took her to dance began after her first ballet lesson when she was 5 years old. It was one of the classes most young girls attend, but from that first lesson it was hooked. When her parents came to pick her up, she told them that one day she would like to become a ballet teacher. “Because I didn’t think I could become a professional ballet dancer,” she says with a laugh.
If Lucie is a swan, I’m a rhinoceros. During the first steps of the warm-up it becomes clear to me that I don’t have a spark of elegance or sovereignty like them. Our ballet warm-up is challenging, especially because I have to keep my back upright during all the exercises. I quickly find out that plies are a lot like squats, and doing dozens of them with an ultra-upright back is working on muscles I didn’t even think I owned. During the warm-up, I take a look at the other students in the class. The girls have high pigtails and arched eyebrows, just like professional ballet dancers. Her posture is perfect, just like Lucie’s and they can do dozens of plies and it looks like they don’t have to try hard. While I heave myself through the warm-up, they slide elegantly along.
Lucie’s playlist for the lesson is fantastic. It consists of lots of indie hits by Tame Impala and the XX and it combines each song with a different exercise. After the warm-up we work on our legs, bending them to the side and in every direction. Then Lucie says “Assemblé!” and all the elegant swans in the ballet class lift one leg backwards as if they were about to take off in the next moment. I was so surprised that I crashed back down. Lucie smiled and nodded encouragingly to me. Other than my plie skills, the class is great fun. Lucie’s humor fills the room and while her choreography is challenging, her kind of humor makes up for it all. When she counts down the exercises, she does it half-smiling, knowing exactly how difficult they are.
But I think Lucie’s favorite exercise is the following: She divides the class into 2 groups. The first group should do 16 plies, then the other group and so on up to 8, 4, 2 and 1. It’s fast and fun and is really difficult and challenging for the legs. In between, Lucie corrects the postures of her students and extends our positions so that we can feel the maximum effect of her choreography.
After our little plie dance competition, we each took a mat and Lucie makes Beyoncés Flawless on. We sit down and every time Beyoncé says “Bow down bitches” we bend over one leg. And even if the girls next to me seem flexible like origami, while I can barely touch my toes, it’s a fantastic stretch.
Fit’Ballet is challenging in several ways. Lucie says “It keeps you in shape and is perfect for learning the basics of ballet because we take the same steps every class. To do this, you train with optimal posture. It’s much more than fitness – you’re also working on your physical shape. ”
For me personally, the biggest challenge is maintaining a straight back. “If you’ve done ballet before, even if it was just in your childhood, it’ll come back at some point,” says Lucie. “At first you don’t remember it, but then it comes back. I can see the difference between people who have never done ballet and those who did it for even a year as a kid. This class is for everyone, so it doesn’t matter what experience you have. ”
Lucie’s eyes sparkle as she guides us through one of the last exercises of the class. We are still sitting with one leg stretched out and the foot flexed while we lift the leg and hold it up. Lucie starts counting and it feels like an eternity before she finally yells “Okay and relax”.
We end the class with a long stretch. Lucie probably sees that I can get deeper into my stretch, so she comes over to me and leans against my leg. Then she says, “I love the feeling of dancing ballet. It’s difficult, but it also makes you feel good. It’s hard to describe. You challenge yourself, but in a gentle way. It feels good. It’s relaxing and kind of gives you energy. ”
The next morning, just as I am about to leave the house, I look in the mirror. Something is different, but I can’t figure it out. As I walk into the office, my colleagues say, “Wow, you have a great posture today!” And I notice that after just an hour of ballet I have better posture and my head is more upright.