Save your sanity, sweat a little, and support artists in the process.

ballet slippers
Credit: Luis Alvarez/Getty Images

If you’ve ever wanted to dance with real-deal ballerinas, here’s your chance.

With theaters shuttering in the wake of COVID-19, American Ballet Theater principal dancers Isabella Boylston and James B. Whiteside are taking their talents to Instagram. Every day at 1:30 EST, the BFF ballerinos are streaming #TheCindiesBalletClass, a free Instagram Live dance class for their fans and followers.

Yesterday, in desperate need of a mood boost, a brain break, and a little exercise, I pulled on a pair of pink leggings, tied my hair into a bun that was definitely not up to code, and took #TheCindiesBalletClass.

Let me first say that I haven’t taken a ballet class since I was three. And the term “ballet” there was applied recklessly: Mostly, we stomped our chubby, slipper-wearing little feet on the stage to the dissonant rhythms of wooden sticks we banged together. I haven’t thought about taking a ballet class again since, as my lack of coordination followed me into adulthood. Then again, I haven’t been planning on a pandemic-induced period of social distancing either. But I digress.

Here’s what I learned in my class with The Cindies (this is what James and Isabella call each other, for reasons I do not know):

It’s fun, even if you know zilch about ballet.

James and Isabella move through the combinations swiftly and without a whole lot of explanation, but the repetitive nature of the exercises gives even amateurs like me a chance to catch up for at least a few of the reps.

Ballet ain’t stuffy.

While the technique is precise, the playlist is approachable and FUN: Yesterday, we tendu’d to T.L.C. and plié’d to Hanson. You know, all the guilty pleasure tunes that you generally reserve for solo car sing-a-longs. A ‘90s kid’s dream.

Ballet is one heck of a workout.

The class lasts an hour, as that’s the Instagram Live-mandated time limit, but I only made it through 45 minutes. All those tendus, ronds de jambe, and frappés (not just a McDonald's drink, apparently) wore me out! The quick little movements make you feel the burn. (Bonus: I won’t need to Swiffer my floor today because my socked feet got the job done yesterday.)

It fosters a sense of community.

In a time when we’re all staying home and keeping our distance from each other, tuning into an online dance class with a few thousand people from all over the world made me feel more connected to humanity at large.

You can support artists even when their shows are canceled.

While the class is free, you can say thanks by donating to the Dancers’ Emergency Fund, which works to alleviate financial pressures American Ballet Theater’s dancers are experiencing in light of their canceled shows.

Long story short? I won’t be taking the stage anytime soon, but for now, a little mood-boosting ballet from the comfort of my room works just fine.

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