Grazia Daily Hits The Black Swan Barre!

24 January 2011

When hanging up our wrap-around cardi, pink tights and satin slippers at the age of six, we hardly expected our dancing dream of becoming the next Margot Fonteyn to reemerge twenty years later. But thanks to Black Swan (did you see it this weekend? did you? did you?), ballet is having a moment.

Watching Natalie Portman pirouette and plié her way through Darren Aronofsky's thriller, we were transported back to those heady days of twirling tutus and twinkle toes. So it was with this naïve childlike enthusiasm that Grazia Daily accepted an invitation to celebrate the film's release with - yep, you guessed it - a ballet lesson. This was our chance to indulge our inner ballerina without the gruelling training regime and psycho side-effects. Yippee!

Arriving at Frame fitness studio in Shoreditch, London, we were greeted by a room teeming with semi-dressed ladies. The obligatory cling-to-every-inch-of-flesh leotards are enough to strike fear into any non-modelesque girl ("unforgiving" doesn’t even begin to cover it). Luckily, bottles of bubbly were at hand, so fuelled by Prosecco, it was time for dressing up...

The apparel we squished ourselves into came courtesy of contemporary dancewear company BLOCH. We literally squealed when we saw the pink satin pumps (as you can see above!), and were very relieved red contacts weren't compulsory but, er, where's the tutu? Obviously, Rodarte costumes weren't on the cards and ok, we aren't pre-pubscent, but we were not-so-secretly hoping for some frilly frou-frou * stamps foot petulantly *

Before our tutu-tantrum took hold, the lovely M·A·C folk stepped in to transform us into smokey-eyed swans. As the film's makeup maestros told us on Friday, gallons of glitter, blacker-than-black eyeshadow and feathery lashes are essential for channelling Aronofsky's ballerina. So with intense makeup ready and a chignon a-top our head, it was showtime...

Craig, our perfectly poised teacher, taught us the barre basics to the film’s rousing soundtrack. His theatrical wing-like makeup far outdid ours and gave him a jolly Louie Spence, rather than sinister Vincent Cassell vibe. He stuck to the ballet element using classic moves and we jumped and pointed our way through the 30 minute taster session with enough repetition to give us a workout in the process. 

As a reward for all our hard work, trays of Black Swan-themed Whoopie pies were served. Deliciously gooey, yes, but not the standard after-class ritual, we suspect - it certainly confused the "proper" ballerinas who arrived for their "real" lesson as we were leaving. And with that, the spell was broken and us mere mortals were back to Converse-clad feet, with just a little more spring in our step.

Needless to say, we won’t be winning any Golden Globes for our balletic performance. Swan-like Darcey Bussells we ain't - we can't tell our jetes from our tendus and there was no chance of us getting en pointe. Having said that, our five-year-old self had a ball and hey, the benefits (think super-toned dancer’s legs and very firm buttocks) are enough to make this barre hopping our new hobby.

In fact, we enjoyed the lesson so much, we've already signed up for another. No, seriously. Because, as of 5th February, Frame is launching Black Swan Season with classes inspired by the film. From learning simple versions of the routines Portman performs to working on your core strength with floor barre, you can relive your sugar plum fairy fantasies at any age. Go on, you know you want to...

Classes take place every Saturday for 4 weeks and cost £12, or £10 with a Frame Card. Check out for more details, and happy pirouetting!

by Jessica Vince & Angela Buttolph


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