Anja Ali-Haapala

Meet the Dance Teacher

Anja teaches weekly Ballet for Seniors classes and also undertook research with QB on the health and wellbeing benefits of ballet for mature adults in Ballet Moves for Adult Creative Health.


What is your teaching experience?
I've been teaching for about 10 years and have been lucky to work with a variety of people and contexts. The youngest I have taught is a one-year old in Hopetoun (a tiny regional town in WA), with my most mature participant being 82 years old at Queensland Ballet. Contemporary dance, Broadway jazz, creative dance and ballet are my main styles, although I have done the odd can-can workshop as well!

What do you love about ballet? 
I have had a love/hate relationship with ballet over the years, but right now I'm definitely in a love phase! A big factor in this is that when I dance ballet now, I dance for myself, my physical health, and my soul. Ballet is incredibly complex, so moments that are particularly satisfying for me are those rare instances where everything in an enchainment works perfectly! When this happens it feels like my body is on auto pilot and I get to go along and enjoy the ride. 

What's the importance of people being active?
I think there's broad awareness that physical exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but knowing that (at least, in my case) isn't very motivating in the long term. That's why finding an activity that really interests you is important, because then you're just having a whole lot of fun and the health stuff is a bonus!

Any top tips?
Kitchen benches work really well as ballet barres and are great for practicing steps at home (I often try out new sequences for my classes while waiting for the kettle to boil). The kitchen bench does come with a warning, though: beware of grand battements! 

Tips for people looking to start your Ballet for Seniors class?
Plucking up the courage to try ballet can be a big hurdle for first-timers. So once you're there, come introduce yourself to me (if I haven't said hello to you already) and then I can make sure you get one of best spots at the barre with a great view!

What inspires you to dance?
I am constantly blown away by the creativity, artistry and energy of the people that participate in my community classes. These are most often people with little dance background, but a whole lot of passion!