Imogen Edwards-Jones channels her inner Beyonce and ends up feeling like Ann Widdecombe at new dance class BarreDance
In my time I have considered myself quite a mover. I did ballet, tap and modern as child, I even went on pointe and have the block-shoes to prove it. I moved on to John Travolta Classes as a teenager, where I learnt the whole routine to “You’re The One That I Want” off by heart in my local village hall. In my twenties I inevitably moved on to Acid House and can still rock out a quick “Big Fish Little Fish, Cardboard Box.”
I like a boogie. Pop on a toe-tapper at a party and I’m the first to ditch the wedges and shimmy to the floor. Give me a nightclub and it’s actually quite difficult to get me off the podium, as Pacha regulars know only too well.
So when someone suggested I went to Barrecore , a high-energy, low impact dance-inspired barre class on the Kings Road, I thought: “Why not? I can still do good toes, bad toes, and half decent plie. It’ll be a synch.”
Brought to the UK from the US by Niki Rein, a personal trainer who started out with Tracy Anderson Method LA, Barrecore started life in a mews house in Chelsea; it has now expanded into pre and post-natal exercise programmes and the new BarreDance cardio class, which I somewhat mistakenly signed up for.
“Hi!” grinned Elyse, mid-double leg-kick hand-punch. “Just join in!” She yelled over the loud blasting pop-music. “On-one, on-two, on-three. Step to the side, head flick, body roll… on one. Body roll… on two…”
As I gingerly put my handbag down in the corner of the entirely mirrored room, I watched a group of enthusiastic ladies following Elyse’s every move. There were six or seven of them, some were fairly slick, others were not so coordinated, but there was one blonde at the front who could lap and pole the rest of us off the floor. Sod it, I thought, I can handle this and I cantered into the back row to join in.
What an error. Firstly nothing prepared me for the sour-faced middle-aged woman, scowling with concentration who looked back at me (who was that? And more importantly why can I still frown? I must get some Botox). And secondly, I was rubbish. I was a slow, awkward, complete un-co and my feet would not do what I told them. As we worked our way through the next routine - a ’20s inspired Gatsby charlston number - I had a sudden revelation. I knew exactly what it was like to be Ann Widdecombe on Strictly.
This was it. This was the feeling. Huffing and puffing and trotting on the spot like a hamstrung pony on crack cocaine. All hands, feet and ripple effect. I could practically hear Tess consoling me backstage. I was waiting for Bruno’s scores. It was an uncomfortable feeling. I looked at the clock. I was only half way through the sodding class and I was just about to cry.
You see, normally I only really ever embrace my inner Beyonce when somewhat lubricated by alcohol. The Ring On It dance tends to need two vodkas at least. Dancing toute sober, I am Ann.
But then I realised the trick. Much like you always talk to a girlfriend’s eyes, rather than her bush, when you bust her naked in the gym. So the trick in these dancing situations is to not look at yourself in the mirror. Concentrate on the class, and the moves, and forget you are even there.
For the next twenty minutes I had a blast. I got all showgirl with hand and leg flicks. It was fun, I sweated and I left with a grin. Does it work? Is it good for you?
I was once told that you should look at the body of the person teaching you to see if you want to go to the class. Now Elyse: she was tiny, with the toned backside worthy of gold lame ‘spinning around’ shorts. So yes. It is clearly brilliant and fun. Just don’t look in the mirror.
For more information about Barrecore's classes visit www.barrecore.co.uk. A single Barredance class is priced at £28.