Raising the barre

It’s easy to spot ballet teacher Alessandra Masoero who I have come to meet at The Tabernacle. She is the one gliding smoothly across the floor towards the cafe, feet tiptoeing in first position. Unsurprising Masoero is so nimble on her feet and so straight backed, she has danced ballet since she was 4 years old and used to dance with Teatro Nuovo in Turin, where her main love was contemporary dance. In her late teens she had to choose, ballet or business? She chose to take a degree in economics while she was still performing and then worked in advertising in Milan.

Happily this Italian moved to Notting Hill 20 years ago and after children were born she has returned to her first love and qualified as a dance teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance. “I discovered I love teaching so much, it is so rewarding and I meet so many interesting people.” One of them is the French actress based in London, Antonia Desplat (pic left), who has been cast in a film where she will be a ballerina. Desplat says: “I love this class because we do a lot of expression with the body.”

Now Masoero has been teaching dance for the last 10 years in Notting Hill a lot of us have benefitted. “Music is fundamental,” she explains. “It is at the heart of my teaching and I try to work on the musicality of my students. When they [the students] start feeling the joy of the music it is empowering the dancing and that is when the dancer really grows. If you start with the music you become one with the music and that’s when you feel the joy of expressing yourself and your feeling through dance – dancing is so much more rewarding. My joy comes from inspiring people with dance.”

One thing she also wants to end is the fear adults have of taking up ballet for the first time. “It’s sad there is a lot of fear with adults, they think ballet is just for young people. They think ‘I am not flexible enough’. Unless you are someone who has done it in the past, they are worried. They associate it with beauty, flexibility, being slim and tall. This is why I do simple classes. I want to give my students more individual attention and make them feel more relaxed.”

Usually 10 in a class, a maximum 12. You pay per term and each class is the bargain £20 for a 1½ hour class. Students pay £10. You have to commit to a term as Masoero has to hire the studio and pianist in advance. There are lessons with live music on Tuesday 1.00 pm – 2.30 pm (elementary class) and  Thursday (intermediate class) at 9.30am – 11am at The Tabernacle. Floor Barre on Wednesday’s 1.30pm – 2.45pm at The Tabernacle, ideal for beginners or people with injuries. On Mondays, she teaches a beginner class at St Peters Church hall on Portobello Road 12.30am – 2pm 
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