Online ballet classes start up

Elmhurst Ballet School teacher keeps dancers on their toes during lockdown.

Belgian-born Sander Blommaert is a former dancer with The Royal Ballet and a qualified, award-winning ballet teacher who splits a busy career between teaching at Elmhurst Ballet School, Birmingham with his own summer school, workshops and private coaching in and out of the Midlands.

Before the UK went into lockdown, Sander noticed many artists in Italy were providing free tuition online. Inspired to do the same and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Government guidelines closing dance studios at home in the UK, Sander started free ballet classes online, Monday to Saturday at 11am on his Instagram page.

With thanks to his successful career in dance performance and teaching, Sander has built up an impressive online presence, seeing over 52,000 followers turning to his Instagram page to be inspired, motivated and now instructed in ballet from their living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms and gardens at home.

Aimed at dancers of an intermediate experience level, but drawing interest from ballet professionals to those who are inquisitive or new to dance, the virtual teaching sees over 400 dancers regularly turning to their computer and TV screens as Sander takes participants through daily class.

Teaching from his home in Birmingham, Sander said: “I am amazed at how many people are following the classes and taking part. I am impressed by the whole ballet community who have come together at this difficult time to reach out and help others.

“As generous as it is for professional dancers to be sharing classes online for free, I also felt there was a need for experienced ballet teachers to be offering classes, so that students, especially full-time vocational ballet students, could receive the same information they benefit from in a school setting and enable them to maintain their training at home.

Although Sander insisted his online classes during lockdown remained free of charge, many dancers and parents of those taking part asked if they could make a donation to thank him for his support at this time. Feeling grateful to still be in paid work, Sander set up a Justgiving page so people can donate if they wish and all money raised will go to charities and organisations affected by the shutdown.

Following the success of the classes, Sander started to think about other ways he could keep dancers interested and informed during lockdown. ‘In conversation with Sander Blommaert’ invites renowned names from the ballet world to be interviewed on his Instagram Live on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings at 7pm. Many dance illuminati have agreed to join Sander ‘in conversation’ – coming up in the next few months, are: Mara Galeazzi (17th April); Céline Gittens (20th April); Edward Watson (24th April); Christopher Wheeldon (27th April); Gary Avis (29th April); Elmhurst’s Principal Jessica Wheeler (1st May); César Morales (4th May); and Aaron Robinson (8th May).