Video Fitness

The New Ballet Workout

Melissa Lowe

The actual workout in New Ballet Workout is 45 minutes (though Melissa says its an hour). It starts out with some solicited testimonials from the cast re: "dance has been berry berry good 4 me". There's a male cast member, which is refreshing, and three women in addition to Melissa.

The set is nice, nondescript. The music is fairly good piano accompaniment (sp?)

There's a floor warm-up. Slightly quirky in a typical dance class sort of way. More hip rotations than most people would have in a warm up - and its long, maybe 13 minutes. Melissa doesn't compensate for video right and left, i.e., she says left when she's showing right (have I mentioned recently how much I h-a-t-e that?).

Most of the workout is at the barre. I liked this emphasis because I recently invested in a barre. I'm not sure how much non barre owners would like it. You could use a high backed chair.

The barre work is very confusing. Melissa doesn't direct right or left *at all*, and the cast is facing every which way. She gives minimal verbal cueing for the first side, then switches to the second side without notice, and shows that side with NO VERBAL CUEING. The camera work gets artsy, and you often can't see the body part that's working.

There is absolutely no breakdown of the ballet terms*, and no explanation of the positions. She uses 4th and 5th position quite a bit. As the tape progresses, the work gets faster, and she does some turns at the barre and at center.

I would describe myself as having extremely light ballet experience. I've been to a few ballet classes, and a fair amount of ethnic and jazz (they tend to borrow ballet warmups and ballet terminology). I was hanging on by a bare thread. If you have a limited ballet background, and don't feel comfortable having terms thrown at you that you don't understand, this is NOT your tape.

She introduces each section with a little explanation, but they're not to the point. She tends to state the obvious, i.e, "grande battements require strength", but gloss over stuff that's genuinely confusing and/or difficult.

There's a short center barre section, then an adage (slow follow the leader), and a little stretch at the end.

I know I sound like I hated it, but I didn't. I think Melissa displays typical ballet diva attitude, and I've resolved that part of the work is trying to remember the sequences on my own. Everyone has beautiful form, and the sequencing in the tape is nice. New Ballet Workout is more representative of what actually occurs in a ballet class then any other tape I can think of - for better or worse.

If you have a ballet background, and want a tape that authentically replicates a true ballet class warm up, you may well like this tape. It is more flowing, and less pandering, then Melissa's other tapes.

If you want consistent cueing, and some explanation of ballet terms and principles, look elsewhere.

*fyi, I used this website to figure out the spelling of the ballet terms I used for this review.

Instructor comments: Melissa needs to think more about her target audience and find a way to communicate without condescending. She's clearly a skilled ballerina, and a skilled instructor to professional students.

Jane C
March 7, 2002

Unless you're very advanced in ballet, you'll be pretty discouraged. I love ballet for exercise but don't have the inclination to attend classes due to foot injury, so ballet tapes are perfect (i.e., I can execute poorly on a bad day without embarressment). If you're not advanced, I'd recommend her two earlier tapes over this one. They provide the technique and alignment practice that you can only get with a ballet workout. This one is not recommended. It is too difficult to follow, and the steps are not explained at all. It's too bad because there aren't enough ballet tapes out there that provide adequate instruction along with exercise benefits.

Instructor comments: Melissa seems to really believe in what she's doing, but her enthusiasm is not inspiring in this tape.

Elizabeth P.


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