WHY THE SWANLAKE CLASS WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER, LEANER, CALMER…
Chené Koscielny talks to Geneva’s own Billy Elliot – Daniele Foschini – who teaches Swanlake and Stretch’ Barre classes at L’USINE SPORTS CLUB about the benefits of classical dance for everyone.
As he glides effortlessly across the floor, head held proudly with a distant gaze, arms spread like wings, every muscle firmly flexed and bare feet perfectly pointed – Daniele captures the essence of grace, strength and beauty.
The Italian-born classical ballet dancer loves to share his passion with anyone keen to improve their strength, posture and physical, as well as mental flexibility.
Daniele, aged 52, is one of the mécano (fitness trainers) at L’Usine Sports Club, a 5-star gym in Rue Bovy-Lysberg, where he teaches the popular Swanlake class – ballet for adults of all levels.
The purpose of the class is to introduce the foundations of classical ballet training, making it accessible to everyone. Beginners are most welcome. He also recently introduced Stretch’ Barre – active stretching on the barre drawing on classical ballet movements.
This innovative class is one of the group classes you can take in the ‘playground’ of this top notch gym, which boasts beautiful spaces, the latest trends in group classes, quality equipment and the type of service that makes you feel special. Also read our previous article: Is this Geneva’s most luxurious gym?
We first encountered Daniele during an Intense Fire class at the club – one of the toughest fitness classes in town.
A PASSION AND WAY OF LIFE
His experience and wisdom immediately sets Daniele apart from other trainers. Behind the grey beard and playful blue eyes lies an incredible strength.
“Nowadays, fitness instructors do a 4-month course to become personal trainers, but years of daily discipline and performing on stage bring a different maturity and a deep reflective quality to teaching. It’s a passion and a career – a way of life,” says Daniele.
In class, Daniele’s has a highly infectious energy, moving from student to student – commenting, joking, doling out a high five or an encouraging smile here or a gentle hands-on assist there. He is totally at ease, leaving no student unnoticed. His demonstrations are clear and precise, often using imagery and he doesn’t hesitate to lift his shirt to show exactly which muscle needs to be engaged.
THE BILLY ELLIOT STORY
His story – ‘like so many male dancers of my generation’ is the story of Billy Elliot. Daniele’s ‘typical Italian’ father didn’t equate dancing with work and his mum secretly supported his passion for dance financially, until he left home at the age of 18 to follow his dream of studying classical ballet in London.
“I grew up playing football like all Italian boys. I didn’t know what dancing was, but I was always jumping, twirling and doing the splits. One day I saw Fame (the TV series) and said to my mum: ‘That’s what I want to do.’”
After his training Daniele returned to Italy where he danced on stage and for national television for 10 years, before turning to costume making and fitness training after a shoulder injury put him out of action for a while.
“I learned and taught every type of fitness class under the sun from hip hop to step to boxercise, everything except bodybuilding.”
Daniele took up classical dancing again in Geneva, where his family had emigrated during the 1960s – rediscovering his passion and adding a maturity that he believes makes him a better dancer (and teacher) than ever.
WHY EVERYONE BENEFITS FROM BALLET
Classical dance has long been admired in sport’s circles, the military and beyond for its ultimate physical and mental discipline, Daniele says. Boxers and body builders – like Arnold Schwarzenegger – and film stuntmen all turn to classical dance training to improve performance and focus.
The Swan Lake class aims to make dance accessible to everyone – simplified – but still challenging enough for people with dance experience.
Adult beginners often don’t have the courage to join dance schools and there is not enough time for proper explanations, says Daniele, which is why L’Usine is one of the only sports clubs in Geneva to offer this type of classes.
So, what does ballet bring?
Physical strength, control and flexibility, but also interior strength and control.
“It helps you to be more aware – to know your body and your soul and to understand who you are.”
Daniele, who describes himself as physical AND cerebral – he loves gardening and sewing and restoring furniture in his spare time, believe it’s essential to keep moving (physically and mentally) if you want to grow old gracefully.
“If you stop moving, you’re already dead.”