Football-Inspired Ballet Classes Combine Dance with Drills in Red Hook

By Nikhita Venugopal on December 4, 2013 9:48am 

RED HOOK — From cleats to pointe shoes.

A neighborhood dance studio is bringing young football players into their studio for a six-week ballet workshop that’s designed for athletes.

FOOTBALLet” at Cora Dance, located at 201 Richards St., focuses on footwork, balance and strength-building exercises by using movements from ballet and the field.

When a parent approached dance instructor Courtney Cooke with an idea for the workshop, she started noticing similarities between dance and sport.

“I immediately saw things that were practiced in football drills… that could be translated to ballet,” said Cooke, 28, who first taught the class last year.

Cooke, who will lead the workshop for 9- to 13-year-olds beginning Dec. 7, starts each class with ballet fundamentals and then teaches exercises like small "petit allegro" jumps and graceful, slow "adagio" movements, she said.

But her young students are more interested in becoming better football players — not ballerinas, she said.

To bring football into the Red Hook studio, Cooke created challenges that combine ballet skills with sports drills.

In one exercise, each student, football in hand, must take gliding steps, called a "chassé," across the room ending with a "grand jeté" — a long, horizontal leap — over a 3-foot barrier then quickly turn and throw the football to the next student.

These activities are performed at varying skill levels and within time limits to resemble a real sports drill, she said. 

“The ballet gets a little more disguised and integrated… into football,” she said.

For more information, email Suzanne Beahrs at sbeahrs@coradance.org or call 718-858-2520.

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