5th January 2016

Dreams of being a ballet dancer come true! Heather Petkov

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I am thrilled to welcome Heather Pektov to the HealthyHappy50 community! Heather and I were introduced by Donna Schoenherr, Founder of Ballet4Life.com in Chiswick, London, the ballet and dance school Heather attends.

Hello Heather!

Which sport do you enjoy?

The sport I love is ballet.

Have you always been sporty or is this new to you?

As a child I went to ballet classes for about a year, but Mum had to stop them as they were too expensive. She actually told me it was because I was too tall! I would love to have been a doctor or ballerina.

If you were sporty when you were younger & stopped, why did you stop?

As a younger person, I used to swim and play tennis and squash. I then got married, had my son and stopped all sport.

Who or what motivated you to start again?

Whilst working at a primary school I used to watch the children during their ballet classes and wished I could join in. I asked the teacher if she would teach the staff but unfortunately it never happened.

When I retired at 62, I met one of the mums from school who told me about ballet for the over 50s. So I decided to be brave and go to Ballet4Life.com. It felt very difficult to walk into the studio but I just had to do it. Ten years before I had had breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. After chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a lot of medicine, I put on a lot of weight. I had always been slim before that. I tried very hard to lose the weight but did very little exercise, maybe swimming now and again. Walking into the studio at Ballet4Life.com I was greeted by Donna, who is the most wonderful teacher. She made me feel so at ease. The other ladies, all over 50, were kind, friendly and encouraging.

How often do you go to your ballet classes?

I go to classes every Tuesday morning and look forward to them so much.

HealthyHappy50 Jo Moseley Heather Petkov

How do you feel when you are doing it?

I feel happy and healthy. I have made some wonderful friends new friends. To feel confident in my ballet took time, but when I was not facing the mirror I was sure I was as good as Darcy Bussell. I then looked at myself and just laughed!

Who inspires you?

Donna, our teacher and Founder of Ballet4Life.com, always inspires us. She was the most beautiful ballerina in New York and when she shows us a move, she still looks so beautiful. It really is more than a dance class.

What has been your greatest achievement so far?

In the summer of 2015, six of us danced a piece called “Signatures” at the Bedford Park Festival. We all felt nervous until we danced and then we felt so proud of ourselves. We had such fun and the smiles on our face proved it.

What is your next goal?

To put on a bigger dance show in 2016!

HealthyHappy50 Jo Moseley Heather Petkov

What are the 3 best things you love about your sport?

My three best things are:

  1. Meeting Donna and the other ladies
  2. The fun and happiness I feel
  3. The exercise dancing gives me

And the worst?

The worst are:

  1. Not being able to learn and remember the routines as quickly as I would like
  2. Sometimes the old body does hurt!

If someone was interested in taking up ballet what would you say to them and what tips would you give them?

I would recommend to anybody – old or young – to take up ballet as it is a wonderful class. If you are older, (we have ladies from 50 to 93 years), I would say, please come for a free trial or just to watch a class. I am sure you would just love it and want to join in. You do not have to buy ballet shoes to start with. You can do it in your socks. As long as you are comfortable so that you can move freely, you will be fine.

HealthyHappy50 Jo Moseley Heather PetkovFinally, this blog & community is called HealthyHappy50. With the lessons you have learned over the years, what would you tell your 20 year old self or 20 year old friends/relatives about health & happiness? (ie how you achieve it/what it means to you)

If I could be 20 again, I would certainly take ballet classes. The happiness and good health I feel now at the age of 65 years I could have felt in abundance from the age of 20.

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story with us Heather! Your joy and enthusiasm shines through. It is inspiring to see that after so many years, your dreams to dance have come true.  We would love to know how your summer performance goes – please do let us know!

Are you interested in ballet and dance? 

Donna Schoenherr, Heather’s teacher and Founder of Ballet4Life.com, has kindly shared her vision for ballet for the over 50s and the benefits it

Ballet4Life helped to pioneer the way for vocational adult dance tuition in London in 2004 and has continued to successfully deliver top quality daily ballet and dance classes & courses for adult learners in Greater London over the past 12 years. We specialise in a friendly and welcoming approach to teaching adult learners ballet and other dance techniques, with the eldest client being a mere 93 years young! Four years ago we started up a unique 50+ ballet class which has a gentle methodology whilst also providing a thorough work-out. We now also have a choreographic workshop for 50+ following our Tuesday class. Dance is proven to help aid fitness levels,concentration, memory, balance, flexibility, posture, core strength, and dancing produces plenty of those feel good hormones that anyone can appreciate! The added benefits of meeting up with fellow dancer friends at our regular classes provides motivation, a brilliant social network, and a break from the daily grind. Classes and courses from absolute beginner to the more experienced are held daily and at affordable rates.

For more information, please go to www.ballet4life.com. You can also follow
them on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Thank you Donna and Heather,

Jo x

{All photos courtesy of Donna Schoenherr, Ballet4Life.com}

HealthyHappy50 Jo Moseley

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