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Velvet Antler Productions in Whitehorse offers adult ballet classes without the strict guidelines of traditional ballet education. The program name, No Bun Ballet, aims to reflect the accessible and low-pressure nature of the classes, intended for adults of all abilities who are interested in learning ballet.
“I think sometimes we hear ‘adult ballet’ and it sounds scary or intimidating, so it was our way of trying to remove the pressure and formalities around a ballet class,” said Allyn Walton, instructor of the No Bun Ballet classes for students with previous experience. “You don’t need to put your hair up; you don’t need to be in tights or a leotard.
“It was just really important for all of us [at Velvet Antler Productions] to create a safe space for people to just feel comfortable in their bodies and in their own sexuality and to just feel no shame,” said Walton.
“Velvet Antler is not about fitting into a mould,” said Rebecca Reynolds, co-owner of the company and instructor of the Intro to No Bun Ballet class. “It’s about shaping yourself however you want.”
“Looking back on our own experiences with ballet and the dance industry, we wanted to make [No Bun Ballet] a low-pressure class,” remarked Walton, whose dance background includes “a good mix of what contemporary ballet can look like and what traditional classical ballet can look like.”
Walton describes No Bun Ballet as a low-impact class. “With adults and aging bodies, you shouldn’t be doing everything you would be doing if you were 18 in a classical ballet program. You need to know your own physical limits and you need to feel like class was a success. I would hate for people to leave feeling frustrated, which I know, for me, was a big part of my training,” she said. “With Velvet Antler, we just decided that that would never be the case for our students and for our movers. They need to feel accomplished and successful at the end of every class.”
No Bun Ballet students are encouraged to wear whatever they are most comfortable in, a philosophy that extends to footwear. Ballet shoes are never required. “I feel more grounded in my bare feet,” said Reynolds.
When Velvet Antler Productions moved into their current studio, the company decided not to add mirrors to the space. “We realized that the people in our classes were actually doing so much better without mirrors,” said Walton. “The movement was more free.… There’s more performance quality, there’s more joy, and folks are learning things so much faster because they’re not depending on the mirror and they’re not judging themselves.”
In addition to No Bun Ballet classes, Velvet Antler Productions offers adult dance classes in tap, contemporary and hip isolation, plus classes that practise moving and performing in heels. Outside of providing dance education, the company produces cabaret-style shows.
Velvet Antler Productions is currently holding their Naughty Nutcracker Bootcamp as well. This training opportunity is leading up to the company’s Naughty Nutcracker production, a student showcase for those who choose to perform. The show will take place in late December.
“The philosophy of [No Bun Ballet] is widespread throughout our company,” said Reynolds. “Don’t be shy.… Just show up. We’ve got you, whatever class you choose.”
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