Any one who follows me on social media will probably know that I had my first ever (yes, EVER) ballet performance last week. At least, you should know because that’s all I’ve been banging on about for the last 6 months…
For anyone who’s ever taken up a hobby as an adult, you’ll know how difficult it feels to 1. Pluck up the courage to take part in the first place and 2. To try and fit in with others who’ve been doing it for years. I’ve only been dancing for 9 months, but I have such a new found respect for ballet dancers. This shit is HARD.
And I don’t mean hard as in “oh if I had more time or money I’d be really good”, I mean really hard. Hard as in twenty years later and your body still doesn’t cooperate, hard. The kind of hard that only gets better with years and years of practice and a hell of a lot of core strength. I mean, my core strength is pretty good but this is another level entirely.
Please someone tell me, why am I doing this again?…
Ballet is wonderful, but frustrating. I get especially frustrated when I switch off halfway through a routine and forget I’m standing on one leg. I get frustrated when I fall out of a pirouette, I get frustrated at my swaybacks and I get frustrated at my granny hips. I also get frustrated that I didn’t have pushy parents who made me continue ballet as a three year old. Dammit Mum, why are you so chill?!
Regardless of all the strops and ballet shoes I’ve thrown at the kitchen wall in anger, I flipping love ballet and I just survived my first show. I already miss all the lovely women I dance with and dammit I even miss the red lipstick and glitter.
For anyone still debating whether to take up an adult ballet class, here’s some reason’s why you should!
It’s Not About Being Good
There are a few wonderful women in my class who stopped ballet in their teens – they don’t count here because they’re amazing. I’m talking about people like me who have never danced and have two left feet. Your first class is going to feel ridiculously alien (because pretty much every ballet position feels so unnatural), and also because you won’t know the routines yet.
Don’t let that first lesson put you off. It may not feel like it at the time, but the barre warmups and basic routines will be ingrained in your brain in only a few sessions, so don’t fret! As soon as you know what to expect each lesson you can start concentrating more on the rest of your form.
I’m really lucky that at Dancebox Studios, my teachers are 100% supportive of absolute newbees. Tom made me feel so comfortable the first lesson I ever had and made sure I always had someone to follow at the barre, explained every position to me and just generally made me feel much less, well, shit.
You’ll Become Hella Flexible
Unless you’re already naturally flexible and can penché no problem, stretching is going to be so, so important. I have the hips and hamstrings of an 80 year old, but seeing as pretty much everything in ballet comes from the hips, stretching those out everyday will help you so much. Kathryn Morgan has a great Stretching and Flexibility video here to help get you started!
As my teacher says, you’ll be “dropping to splits and shouldering a leg” in no time.
You’re Never Too Old
Starting ballet as an adult is a wonderful time to start. Don’t listen to people who say you have to start learning as a child to be any good. If you want a career out of it then yes, but there’s nothing to suggest that starting ballet later in life is any harder. In fact it can be quite the opposite. Your ankles are more likely to be stronger and you’ll therefore be able to hold your positions for longer and reduce the risk of injury and future joint problems.
Not wanted to make a career out of dance also means there’s no pressure to be amazing. Your teacher will know you’re there for fun, not because you want to compete or be the next Darcey Bussell. So what you can barely get your arabesque to 90 degrees? Who cares? You’re learning and new skill and getting fit at the same time, and if you ask me that’s pretty incredible.
It’s Great Exercise
See above when I mentioned how hard ballet is. You’ll use muscles you didn’t even know you had, and yes it hurts but Oh Lord does it do wonderful things to your body. I combine my ballet classes with extra cardio and weight training, and it’s improved both my form and core strength so much.
You’ll Make Wonderful Friends
I write this as I’m currently missing all my fellow adult ballerinas.
The wonderful thing about starting a hobby as an adult is that you meet people from completely different walks of life. I’m pleased to say that I’ve made friends with incredible women from ages 18 to 60, from students, to teachers and doctors.
When I went to my first ballet lesson alone I’ll admit I was mostly apprehensive about what other people were going to be like. When you think of ballet you automatically think of lithe, young, beautiful (and ultimately quite terrifying) people, but I was so relieved to find that Dancebox are so supportive of dancers from all walks of life. You can be any age, gender or size and there’s none of the ‘ideal ballet body’ bullshit; everyone’s just there to learn a new skill and meet wonderful new people. There’s nothing that makes you want to get back to the barre more than a kind, supportive teacher and a a catch-up with your dance babes.
If anything I hope this post has given you a little more confidence about taking your first adult ballet class, and for those of you in the South-East/Milton Keynes area, I’ll see you at Dancebox! 🙆