A Levin dance studio will be the first in New Zealand to have a new style of fitness dance class that has only recently popped up overseas blending ballet, Pilates and yoga.
Ballet Got Soul is a one-hour full body workout for adults created by former local Tessa Martin, a qualified dance teacher, Pilates instructor and performer who lived in Brussels, Belgium.
Her sister Kate Martin, the director of the Kate Martin School of Dance in Levin, couldn't wait to add it to the stable of classes here in New Zealand.
Kate said Ballet Got Soul was proving popular in Brussels and she was excited to bring it to Levin.
It was a dream come true for the Martin sisters, who as youngsters had always wanted to open a studio together. This was the next best thing.
"When we were younger we dreamed of opening a dance studio together. I guess this is as close as we can get considering the distance between Belgium and New Zealand," she said.
"Ballet Got Soul is a mix of Pilates, ballet and yoga, all done to catchy soulful tunes to inspire your mind and your dancing feet. After all, working out is so much easier when its relaxed and fun."
It begins with Pilates breathing and posture awareness to music. Basic ballet is learned through arm and leg coordination.
"Then, as the music builds, up we work through different muscle-group specific exercises for the entire body both standing and lying on the Pilates mat," she said.
"As the music winds down, with a soulful Motown song, we wind down also with some well-deserved yoga-based stretching."
"Ballet Got Soul will improve your posture enabling you to eliminate back and neck tension, while gently transforming your muscles to become more supple and toned.
"You will leave feeling positive and energised."
This fitness class is open to anyone. No previous dance experience is necessary.
The Martin sisters grew up in Palmerston North and danced from a young age.
They danced most nights of the week preparing for various dance exams and then weekends and holidays they were often off at dance competitions.
Both women studied dance fulltime at tertiary level. Tessa moved to Christchurch and completed her full-time ballet training at International Ballet Academy.
Kate studied Commercial Dance at Whitireia in Wellington before moving to Auckland to complete a Bachelor of Dance, majoring in Contemporary Dance at UNITEC.
At the same time they both completed their dance teaching qualifications with International Dance Teachers Association, an internationally recognised teaching qualification allowing them to train dance students and open dance studios.
Both sisters have danced professionally in New Zealand and overseas. They were dancers and models for WOW World of Wearable Arts, cheerleaders for the Hurricanes, magician assistants, had commercial dance contracts, been back-up dancers, and performed in cabarets, musicals, professional contemporary works, choreography and music videos.
Kate gave up international dancing to focus on raising a family 10 years ago, while Tessa settled in Brussels, pursuing a career in contemporary dance. But with an injury setback she trained as a Pilates instructor, which lead to her creating her Ballet Got Soul class.
Kate was also an examiner for IDTA in New Zealand and an adjudicator at New Zealand Dance Competitions, and Director of dance studio Kate Martin School of Dance in Levin, which opened in 2013.
Ballet Got Soul begins in Levin on Tuesday 11 February.