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Ballet classes bolster mind and body for O'Hara woman

| Friday, June 29, 2018, 12:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theater teacher Kerra Alexander instructs classes in the mirrored dance studio at Lauri Ann West Community where Jane Finley is one of the adult students.
Sharon Drake | For the Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Ballet Theater teacher Kerra Alexander instructs classes in the mirrored dance studio at Lauri Ann West Community where Jane Finley is one of the adult students.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theater teacher Kerra Alexander instructs classes for 3- to 4-year-olds including Ana Basson, Sylvie Blask and Elenor Turner, as well as for adults like Jane Finley. The classes are taught at Lauri Ann West Community Center in O'Hara.
Sharon Drake | For the Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Ballet Theater teacher Kerra Alexander instructs classes for 3- to 4-year-olds including Ana Basson, Sylvie Blask and Elenor Turner, as well as for adults like Jane Finley. The classes are taught at Lauri Ann West Community Center in O'Hara.

Jane Finley wants everyone to belly up to the barre — the ballet barre that is.

The O'Hara resident calls the dance style the perfect activity — no leotards, tutus or pink slippers necessary.

“I feel stronger, more balanced with my muscles stretching. I think overall it helps our entire physicality: stretching, core building, strengthening, self- awareness and body placement,” Finley said.

Finley has been a regular for two years at classes offered by Pittsburgh Ballet Theater at Lauri Ann West Community Center along Powers Run Road.

She is among students who range from toddlers to retired adults in classes taught by instructor Kerra Alexander.

Growing up, Finley wasn't involved in organized sports and classes. But as an adult, she started taking hip-hop or jazz classes, whatever was available.

She stepped into ballet having never donned a pointe shoe or slipper before.

She enjoys the low-impact exercise and the music — classics, show tunes and seasonal favorites are on the playlist during Alexander's classes.

“It has all these healthy benefits but it's still an artform. You have beautiful music and I just enjoy it. It's expressive,” Finley said.

For the past decade, Alexander has twirled through classes at the O'Hara community center that have included everyone from tots as young as 3 all the way up to senior citizens. Dance works major muscle groups, burns calories, builds lean muscle, increases mind-body awareness and molds good posture, Alexander said.

It agrees with Finley — her lithe frame belies her 66 years.

Stepping into ballet as a novice was an elevating experience, she said, and practicing provides discipline.

Finley has attended classes across the city but said the community center is convenient because she lives just a hop across Powers Run Road in the Falconhurst development.

“Dance is a lifelong interest,” she said. “I always come back to it.”

Sharon Drake is a contributing writer.

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