Video Fitness

The Ballet Workout

Melissa Lowe

This is a great video for anyone who would like to learn simple ballet moves and become graceful. I haven't taken ballet before but I found the moves pretty simple to learn. Not to the perfection that the dancers have but I can ungracefully imitate it.

This video is broken down in level 1 and level 2 (2 being more advanced) Each level has floorwork which consists mostly of stretching. Then you move on to barrework which works your legs very well. You could use a chair or like myself, use the shelf of the entertainment center. The only complaint I have is in the grand plies your knees go far out over your toes and there is strain on your knees. Overall though it was nice toning for the legs. After the barrework comes standing ballet moves. These were also good. There is some jumping moves that would be bad if you are doing this in your living room and worry about the floor shaking. The tape is 83 minutes long so I do one level at a time. I love the stretches, I think they will really help with my flexibility. I would like to get the ballet workout 2 and even maybe try the Jazz Workout too.

Instructor comments: She is very professional and knowledgable about ballet. If you are looking for alot of charisma and personality, she isn't it. Instead she is no nonsense and straight forward. There really is no cueing. She doesn't show you the moves, just explains it then starts right in on it. Nice for people who don't like excessive cueings and explanations.


I bought this video because I wanted to supplement my routine with barre work to improve my balance, flexibility and the shape of my legs. I was not interested in choreography. Originally, I was only plannning to do the barre work, but I was pleasantly surprised with the center work which I found really worthwhile. The only part of the video which I plan to skip in the future is the floorwork at the beginning of the second workout (they do splits and 'hurdle' stretches' which I can't / won't do).

The production value is not fantastic, the image is a bit fuzzy and if you don't like outdated clothing, you may find it a bit distracting. I like Melissa Low, though : she is not chatty, a bit 'dry' and precise like Karen Voight (I love Karen Voight !).

This video was exactly what I was looking for in a ballet video. I will definitely use it often.
Maryan, Paris


There are two 1/2hr. sections on this tape, the second one is more advanced than the first. Each 1/2 hr. has short warm-up stretches on the floor focused on the feet and legs. The main portion is the barrework (I hold onto a chair back), and ends with centerwork. This feels like a ballet class to me without the running across the room in pairs and no spinning. It's great to work on turn out and extension. I've been doing pilates in between and the ballet w/o really shows off how much control, balance and extension pilates gives you. The set is a ballet room with piano music. The picture is grainy, the clothes are dated. There's nothing exciting, new, or flashy about this, but it'd be great for someone who's looking for a nuts-and-bolts ballet class and who already knows about body placement and posture. A for workout. C for production.

Instructor comments: Melissa Lowe is reserved and professional, just what I expected from a kind, effective ballet teacher.



Firstly Iíll tell you a little bit about my ballet experience. I took one year of ballet and two years of tap when I was a kid. I hated it. My sister, however, continued right through high school. I know a little bit more about ballet from watching some of her classes and listening to her talk about it. She also did this video with me once which Iíll talk about more later.

This tape contains two complete workouts at about 40 minutes each. The second workout is slightly more advanced, although many of the exercises are the same. The second one, among other things, does most of the exercises in third position while the first workout focuses on first and second.

What I like most about this video is that it is very much like a real ballet class. Everything from the music to the studio settings is very similar to what Iíve seen of real ballet classes. The music is piano only, which is typical of ballet classes. Some people would describe this as bad music, and for any other type of video it would be. However, in this case it is perfectly appropriate because, again, it is what youíd find in a real class. The studio setting is the same. It isnít a fancy set like youíd find on a lot of other workout videos, but it is appropriate for this one.

The workout also takes the form of a typical ballet class. You begin on the floor with some stretches and flexibility exercises, then go to the barre, and finish up with centre work. Barre exercises include plieís in first and second and tendu, and on the floor you work on some jumps and a little curtsy at the end. In the second workout you get to work on an arabesque and some leaps across the floor. Those are fun! I wish I had a bigger workout space for that.

One of the things that bothers me about this tape is that there isnít a whole lot of form instruction. She does give a lot of tips along the way, but they are often a few repetitions into the exercise. For this reason, it helps to have some ballet experience, although you could probably manage by following along with the video and watching it frist. You could also look for ballet sites on the web for more information.

Another difficulty is that I am not nearly as flexible or turned out as Melissa Lowe. Itís hard to know what the exercises should look like for someone who is weaker in those areas. I like to watch the background exercisers who tend to be less flexible. My sister also told me not to force the turnout, and to do the exercises at an angle that feels comfortable to me. This may mean that my leg is out on a diagonal rather than straight to the side.

Melissaís is obviously a great dancer and a good instructor but her cue-ing needs some work. They often stop after a few repetitions and go into another movement without telling you what theyíre doing. Sometimes this involves bending forward, facing away from the television so you canít see when theyíre gong to come up. I donít find this to be a huge problem. I just muddle though, and I enjoy it anyway. These breaks do give the exercises a more dancy, more authentic feel.

I should also tell you that some of the movements are very space intensive. There are only one or two sections that have this problem, so I just fast-forward them. Same with the fast tenduís that donít work so well on carpet.

After those last four paragraphs youíd think that this was a bad review, but itís not! I really enjoy doing this video. I just save it for a ďrestĒ day and donít take it too seriously. I do find that this video has improved my flexibility as well as my dance abilities. Choreography seems to come more naturally to me now. I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in a true ballet workout.

Instructor comments: You can tell that Melissa is a real professional. Her turnout and flexibility is really amazing and I like her as an instructor.


Feb. 21, 2004

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