I Tried Grace & Form, the New Ballet and Workout App by Pro Dancers

June 13, 2024

I’m standing next to a counter in my basement, trying to take a virtual barre taught by New York City Ballet principal Indiana Woodward. But her gorgeously flowy port de bras are totally distracting me. I decide to take a quick break and just enjoy watching her for a couple of minutes before I rewind and actually do the pliés myself.

This ability to both enjoy top-level dancing and get in a class is one of the most fun parts of Grace & Form, a new online ballet and fitness platform created by Woodward and dancer-turned-trainer Saskia Gregson-Williams. Despite their elite pedigrees, these two dancers (who grew up training together at the Yuri Grigoriev School of Ballet in California) have launched a platform that hits a Goldilocks balance of challenging and welcoming. The videos include everything from ballet to Pilates to yoga—there are even sound-bath meditations, if that’s your jam—and range from beginner-friendly to advanced. Modifications are almost always offered to keep things accessible to those of us who don’t regularly perform at Lincoln Center.

Woodward says that ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, dancers have become more accustomed to getting in a barre or cross-training session wherever they can find the space. But she wasn’t seeing many high-quality online ballet classes taught by top professionals. “I was like, I wish there were a way that I could get all of the amazing dancers that I love and admire to teach online so everyone can have access to it,” she says. Enter Grace & Form.

Gregson-Williams and Woodward shot the first chunk of classes last fall. The app’s offerings now include a ballet barre and some beginner tutorials taught by choreographer Lauren Lovette and a few Pilates videos with NYCB soloist Sara Adams. These are augmented by previous content from Gregson-Williams’ earlier fitness platform, Naturally Sassy. Woodward says they will soon release additional classes taught by Devon Teuscher, Unity Phelan, Chun Wai Chan, and other dancers.

In a sunlit dance studio, Woodward and Gregson-Williams—both wearing black workout clothes and open white button-down shirts—stand next to each other in forced-arch second position plié, their arms draped elegantly over their heads.
Woodward (left) and Gregson-Williams. Photo courtesy Grace & Form.

As I take some of the fitness classes, I realize how nice it is to see exercises demonstrated not just with proper workout form but also with pointed dancers’ feet and strong port de bras. Many of the newer workout videos feature both Gregson-Williams and Woodward, with one teaching and the other one taking the class while asking smart questions on form or commiserating over “the burn,” which helps me not feel so lonely on the other side of the screen.

Although the pair are hoping to attract everyday gym-goers who might want to take a beginner barre (their most popular video) from time to time, Woodward says the primary target audience is serious ballet dancers and students looking to complement their training, and former dancers interested in starting again. She hopes they take advantage not only of the ballet videos taught by world-class dancers but also the chance to cross-train effectively.

“Introducing Pilates and yoga into your practice is so crucial,” she says. “It’s been one of the biggest helps in my life, personally, for strengthening.”

Woodward adds that she hopes the fact that these videos live online—so you can take them without a mirror or other people nearby—turns them into a deeper mind–body experience: “I feel like this is a great way to go inward and see what you really feel in your body and what makes you feel best.”