Roger Plaut and Mané Rebelo-Plaut have been married for almost thirty years. They first met through mutual friends in the New York City dance scene. Back then they probably didn’t anticipate they’d move to Zurich, Switzerland, together to work as professional dancers. They certainly didn’t anticipate teaching live stream ballet classes together from their home outside Washington, DC.
“We have two cats, and sometimes the cats run into the space and participate in our class. People get a kick out of that,” Roger says with a smile. The Plauts are professional dance instructors who have figured out how to work from home during recent pandemic related shelter-in-place orders.
“This is a way that we can bring people together, even if it’s virtually. They’re working on their ballet technique and getting some exercise but they’re also getting a little bit of a human connection.”
Both Roger and Mané have been teaching dance since they were teenagers. Through decades of experience, they’ve learned dance is good for the body, but that it’s also good for the brain.
“We realized the discipline of dance helped us tremendously after ending our performance careers. We went back to school and it was incredible. I felt the difference. We were much better students,” Mané explains. “When you’re a dancer, you have to be self-motivated if you want to improve. Your teacher can’t do it for you. You also have to think so many things at the same time that you train your brain in a different way.”
“Dance is very good for your mind,” Roger agrees, “for keeping your mind active, for fighting off dementia.”
Roger and Mané are grateful to be able to continue to share dance education with others despite the logistical restrictions. They explain that it is a challenge not being able to see their students to give them corrections, but that some appreciate the online format.
“Some people actually said that they didn’t want to be seen. We’re getting students who haven’t done ballet in a while and maybe would prefer not to be judged.”
Many of their students also enjoy that the Plauts are teaching as a team, which is a rarity.
“One of us usually faces front and one faces back and then we switch. People love that, and love the fact that we interact with each other. We kind of, you know, we have a few jokes once in a while, so I think part of the reason people like it is not just because they’re getting value but they’re interacting with us as people.”
Roger and Mané are currently teaching their low-intermediate ballet barre classes from 7 to 8 PM EST on Tuesdays and Fridays. A class with this dynamic duo will cost $10 per class or 4 classes for $35. Once you’ve registered for class you’ll just need to hop on the stream, make sure you have something stable to hold onto and room to move your legs and arms around.
Interested in classes? Check out their Facebook page for more information.
Roger and Mané’s Must-Have Dance Tools:
1. TheraBand Resistance Bands: Roger recommends you use resistance bands to strengthen your feet and calves. “There’s all sorts of different exercises that you can do with them.”
2. Bosu Half Moon Ball: Mané likes to use this tool for balance. “I actually use it while I’m at my computer. I stand on it at my standing desk. It’s a great way to work on your abs. It’s perfect.”
Follow Mané and Roger