• Natasha Connell

Adult Ballet Class Review – Sunghee Ballet Academy (SBA) In Pembroke Pines, Florida

Hello dancers! I decided to create a new category for the blog, where I will review different adult ballet classes. When I travel, either for work or leisure, I usually try to find an adult ballet class to drop in, not only to keep up with my practice, but also because is so fun to experience different teaching styles and meet other adult ballet dancers. I always learn something new, and later share it with my own students. So, I figured it is a good idea to document the experience on this blog here. That way, if the readers happen to be in the area, they have an idea of what some of the classes are like.

For my first review, I found excellent adult ballet while visiting my parents in lovely Pembroke Pines, Florida, an area that sits directly west of Ft. Lauderdale and North of Miami.

I found Sunghee Ballet Academy (SBA) by doing a Google search for adult ballet. I was happy to find they offered 3 adult ballet classes a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30 AM. It was Thursday when I arrived, so I called and was told that I would be welcome to drop in.

If you would like to drop in on a new class, I recommend that you do call them before hand, to make sure if they allow drop ins, find out the fees, and any school-specific requirements, like dress code or any other restrictions.

I found out that traditional ballet attire was encouraged but not mandated, the fee was $20.00 for the 90-minute class and $ 5 for a 30-minute pointe class right after, which made me very happy. Just in case, I always travel with at least one ballet outfit and my ballet shoes. If you are local to the area you can go to their website, and register to receive a free trial class.

On Friday morning, while my family still slept, I headed out to the studio, excited about what I would find. Located in a quaint suburban shopping center, the facility is 3,600 square-feet, beautiful and inviting featuring 2 state-of-the-art studios. Each studio is equipped with sprung professional Marley dance flooring, floor to ceiling mirrors, sturdy wall and center barres and professional sound systems. I am a bit of a snob when it comes to dance floors, and I always prefer a sprung Marley floor, because is safer to jump on, and to do pointe work as well.

The owner Sunghee greeted me at the door, and I was happy to find out she would be teaching the class! On her website, I found out that she had come to ballet at the relatively late age of 13, but her talent and hard work had propelled to eventually become a principal dancer in her native county Korea With the Korea National Ballet. She also obtained a BA in Dance. In 2000 she relocated to the USA and was invited to join Dance Alive National Ballet, FL. You can tell that Sunghee loves teaching, and dancing. She is a tiny, exquisite sprite of a ballerina, with boundless energy, and she appears absolutely ageless. I will never forget her perfect, tiny ballet feet either!

During class, she was very hands-on and paid individual attention to each student. Her explanations were easy to follow, and she always did the exercises along with the class.

One thing from Sunghee’s class that stood out, was that before we actually started barre, she guided us through a conditioning routine using terra-bands, which I loved! I also loved that she had us always facing the mirror while at the barre. When it was time to do the second side, instead of turning around, we would just switch sides, so we were always able to see what we are doing. The barre was classical, and I enjoyed the challenge of following along with new combinations. I would say it was a beginner/intermediate level, so a beginner could do it, and a more advanced student could as well. Sunghee also gave modifications for different experience levels.

Another plus was that the room temperature was kept at a level of warmth that allowed our bodies to stay warm and sweat, because that is ideal for ballet practice. I sincerely regretted that I had forgotten my towel!. If you are one of those people that “does not like being hot”, I sincerely recommend you reframe your mindset while practicing ballet, especially as an adult. A warmed up body doing ballet moves more beautifully, and more safely.

The center combinations were easy for me to follow along, and we had plenty of opportunity to repeat the combinations until we perfected them. The only thing missing from the class were turns, but most likely it was just that particular day. As a teacher, I know that we can’t always do all of the things in each class.

The pointe class afterwards was the most challenging part for me, since I just recently started doing pointe with consistency. After a warm up at the wall barre, we moved to the center to practice releves, echappes, turns, and hops on pointe, which were the hardest for me. I learned that while doing those, you must pay attention to bend at the ankle, while still remaining over the box.

I will most definitely take Sunghee’s valuable lessons to improve my technique going forward.

As far as the other students, they were a super friendly bunch. A couple of the ladies have been coming for about 5 years, and although they never had ballet as kids and are now between the ages of 30 and 60, they are really good! Some of them expressed to me that finding adult ballet changed their life, the relationship they have with their body, and allowed them the opportunity to fulfill a childhood dream. One of the students said that she preferred ballet to the gym for exercise, because albeit is extremely strenuous, it still allowed her to feel feminine and elegant.

Another thing I really like about SBA is that it focuses on classical inspired – Russian (Bolshoi) and Cecchetti Ballet Style. Besides adult ballet, they offer classes for all the younger age groups, but by only offering the classic ballet style, it allows the students to gain the mastery required for this art. The current tendency for most studios these days is to have many different styles, and many times classical ballet gets relegated to a few classes. I believe that those of us that love ballet, want to preserve it in its true form and see that the next generations get to enjoy it as well.

SBA is doing a great job at bringing the joy, beauty, artistry and discipline of classical dance to Pembroke Pines and audiences from surrounding communities.

Overall, I give SBA 5 out of 5 stars!!! But I am going to break it down into categories! I think this will be useful as I review more studios as well!

Facility 5 (exquisitely tasteful, professionally equipped)

Instructor 5 (professional, friendly and knowledgeable)

Class Content 5 (complete classical ballet technique)

Adult Classes Availability 5 (at least 3 a week)

Peer Group 5 (friendly and inclusive)

Also, I am making a class difficulty level scale below. This would not affect the rating, just show how challenging the class is:

1 Absolute Beginner

2 Intermediate Beginner

3 Advanced Beginner

4 Intermediate

5 Intermediate Advanced

6 Advanced

7 Professional

SBA adult ballet class is between 2 and 4, and pointe class is a 3.

If I lived in Pembroke Pines, I would attend SBA regularly for sure! Will definitely be back! Thank you Sunghee! It was an honor t meet you! If you are ever in Columbus GA stop by my class!

Dancers! Let me know if you enjoyed this review! I look forward to doing many more! What do you look for when you try a new class? Do you like dropping in an adult ballet class when you travel? Would love to hear your stories! Keep dancing and keep Transcending!!!



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