Pillow Talk: Alison Carroll, BalletBody

Alison Carroll has been dancing since the age of four. She began her career as a professional ballet dancer before finally opening her own ballet fitness studio, BalletBody, with her co-founder, Lisha Chin. We caught up with her last week at her studio where she had just finished teaching her afternoon class.

Dance is a big part of your life. How has dance shaped the way you express yourself?

Ballet is a huge, huge part of my life. Having gone from being a professional ballerina to now a ballet fitness studio co-founder, ballet is something that will be with me all my life.

I was quite shy as a child and going to ballet lessons somehow helped me feel more comfortable with myself. It could be because there are no words in dance — there are only movement and music. I’ve come to learn that it is through movement and music that I express myself.

You and Lisha started BalletBody last year. How has it been for you?

It’s been an absolute roller-coaster ride — fun, challenging, and definitely keeps us on our toes! We were both trained as professional classical ballet dancers and we never dreamt of being business owners... yet here we are, learning as we go. We wouldn’t have it any other way though.

Your studio helps change people’s perspectives about ballet and make the dance form more accessible. From your teaching experience, what are some of the misconceptions people tend to have about ballet?

One of the biggest misconceptions people have about ballet is that you have to be flexible even before you start. We always tell people, we are here to help them with that: to gain strength with flexibility and build lean, long muscles like that of a ballet dancer.

Another misconception is that ballet is only for women. We have lots of men come for BalletBody classes and they often tell us that ballet helps complement their gym routines.

As a business owner, a dance instructor, and a former professional ballerina, your career requires a lot of juggling and interactions with people. How do you decompress?

I absolutely treasure my alone time. I’m quite the introvert so interacting with people all day really takes a lot of energy out of me! My perfect way to decompress would be to spend time alone… maybe get a massage and take a nice long nap.

Do you dance differently when you’re in front of an audience versus when you’re literally alone in your bedroom and in your studio?

To be honest, I don’t dance alone in my bedroom. After dancing all day (or back then when I used to perform till 11pm on stage), all I want to do in my bedroom is SLEEP! (laughs)

What’s your favourite way to start the day?

A nice hot cup of tea!

Would you mind sharing some of your favourite stretches you like to do in the day or to unwind?

I’m always stretching — be it before or after I teach a class! People often don’t realise how important it is to stretch. It keeps your joints muscles flexible, helps you recover faster from a workout, and also prevents injuries.

The stretches I do range from simple stretches like neck rolls, side bends that anyone can do at their desk, and simple movements to keep my body mobilised daily. I also try to do the splits everyday to maintain my range of motion and flexibility.  

Pillow Talk is an interview series done in collaboration with Public Culture, an editorial experience studio that believes in connection over communication. This feature was photographed by Christopher Wong for Sunday Bedding and Public Culture.

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