For Chicago-based dancer, choreographer, and teacher Hanna Brictson, that free time turned out to be the perfect opportunity to launch a passion project that she has been cooking up for more than a decade…
For many of us, our daily routines and lifestyle changed overnight. We find ourselves sheltered in our homes, social distancing and trying to find the ways in which we can achieve some sense of normalcy. And while change can be difficult, it also has the potential to bring out the best in each of us. The uncertainty of this pandemic has given light to the true strength and spirit of many communities, including the community of dancers and artists around globe. As dancers and dance makers, we have discovered new ways of connecting and sharing our art with one another: teaching phrase work and classes on social media platforms, giving prompts to other artists to inspire movement creation, finding time to connect with artists both locally and globally and so much more.
In addition, we find ourselves with more free time on our hands than ever before—time that we can dedicate to passions and projects that typically got pushed aside or put on the back burner. For Chicago-based dancer, choreographer, and teacher Hanna Brictson, that free time turned out to be the perfect opportunity to launch a passion project that she has been cooking up for more than a decade: a workout program inspired by her years in dance and fitness, Ballex.
…without long commutes to teach and all travel kept to a bare minimum, Brictson has taken full advantage of all the extra hours to bring accessible workouts to all via Ballex.
As a highly sought-after dance educator and choreographer, Brictson’s relentless schedule usually has her teaching classes and private lessons at multiple studio locations in the Chicagoland area, travelling out-of-state to teach master classes and set choreography, as well as creating movement for her company, Hanna Brictson and Dancers. If you followed her on Instagram (@hannaelisabeth) prior to Illinois’ shelter in place order, then you’ve likely seen her story chock full of 12+ hour days immersed in all things dance and fitness. But without long commutes to teach and all travel kept to a bare minimum, Brictson has taken full advantage of all the extra hours to bring accessible workouts to all via Ballex.
Here at DancerMusic, we’ve also been contemplating what we can do with our extra hours, especially in light of a lack of performances to cover. For us, it only seems right that we come up with new ways to support the amazing artists in our ever-growing community, and we’re more than ready to do that with the first installment of our new interview series, Stuck INSIDE, where we find artists like Hanna Brictson and discover what they’ve been doing with their time at home.
Dancer Music Editor Kristi Licera caught up with Hanna to learn more about her inspirations for Ballex and what the workouts could do for you. Here’s what Hanna told us:
Ballex is a creation of my knowledge combining workouts, physical therapy, Yoga Sculpt and dance into a cohesive program to share with others.
Kristi Licera: For many of us, no matter our age, background or circumstance, it often takes a mistake, injury or failure to realize and recognize our weaknesses. It is up to each of us to take those moments of darkness and transform them into light. In some ways, that was how the idea for Ballex began, and while this new project is still in its infancy, it has already ignited inspiration in others—especially, in a time where we need it most. Can you tell us more about what inspired Ballex? What were some of the milestone moments in your journey to creating it?
Hanna Brictson: Ballex was inspired by my complete love for fitness that was sparked by a severe injury during the beginning of my professional dance career. I could not get off my couch for months and when I started to recover, I was introduced to workouts and finding a better balance of my own body’s weaknesses. Having never have worked out before, I was intrigued and instantly hooked. Seeing my body change and get stronger through new conditioning inspired me so much.
Ballex is a creation of my knowledge combining workouts, physical therapy, Yoga Sculpt and dance into a cohesive program to share with others. Focused on full body and body weight movements, Ballex will help maintain, strengthen and fire up the fitness guru in anyone. Its fast, powerful and a great way to share everything I know with others to keep them healthy and strong.
Ballex is a perfect balance of push and focus.
Kristi: Throughout your career as a professional dancer, you’ve had opportunities to work with other dance artists and choreographers who have had a deep impact on how you have developed your artistry. Similarly, your experiences in physical fitness have exposed you to a variety of different training methods, each with its own philosophy and approach. With all of this experience behind you, how did you choose what to incorporate into Ballex workouts? What can someone expect to experience in a typical Ballex session?
Hanna: Over the last 16 years I have been through different dance companies, different choreography processes, different workout obsessions and certifications. These are all a deep inspiration to how I treat my body now. You must try, experience and learn what has the strongest effect in a way you can maintain.
Dance is an endurance activity that requires so much power, but its impact on your physicality can be multiplied if combined with the right cross-training. I took a year off dance, became Yoga Sculpt certified and taught. This Is where I developed smaller movements with weights, focusing on the flow and breath of my workout. Through a year of Cross Fit, I learned the patterns of how workouts are usually created. Adding cardio pushes mixed with body weight was also inspired by these aggressive workouts. I bring in isometric holds as well as turned out and parallel work inspired by many years of ballet conditioning.
Above all, I try to achieve balance in each workout. Ballex is a perfect balance of push and focus. I want a session of Ballex to be an achievable challenge. You need to connect with a workout to embrace it and push it. My balance in a Ballex class will do that and create the strongest version of yourself, both physically and mentally.
To learn more about Hanna, visit hannabrictson.com.
PHOTO CREDITS (top to bottom): Hanna Brictson. Photo by Amo Studios • Hanna Brictson. Photo by Michelle Reid • Hanna Brictson. Photo by Sarah Glover • Hanna Brictson. Photo by Michelle Reid