Ballet class as a beginner adult
Ballet

Your first adult beginner ballet class: myths and tips!

Are you afraid to start ballet because you think you are too old and it’s too late? Let me assure you that adults can learn ballet. I was 43 years old when I took my first ballet class. There were much older ladies in my class. Some in their 70s and they really surprised and inspired me with their vitality!

As an adult, I’ve always wanted to take ballet classes but they were too expensive for me. When talking with the ladies in my group, all of them mentioned that at sometime in their childhood, they wanted to do ballet. Some had taken ballet as a kid but most of us hadn’t. It was a childhood dream come true.

Though I was super excited, I remember being a little nervous about going to my first adult beginner ballet class. First of all, I expected it to be more like a ballet barre workout class. I had done barre before. Barre fitness is inspired by ballet moves but you don’t learn pure ballet technique. I was very surprised when I discovered it was a real ballet class. I say that because my sports club is like a YMCA, it’s an association. I subscribed to ‘classic ballet class’ but didn’t expect it to be genuine.

Second of all, on top of not expecting it to be an ‘authentic’ ballet, I arrived in my group later in the year. Classes started in September but I started in January. So, though they were all beginners like me, they already knew a lot more about ballet technique than me.

My teacher was very kind and reassured me that I would catch up in no time. He was right. I did!

So the first myth is that you are too old to learn ballet. The only barrier is not your age but it is your mindset.

Myths

You don’t have to wear a leotard!

Nope, no leotard required. You wear what feels comfortable to you. I came in to my first class simply wearing yoga pants and a T-shirt. However, to the recommendation of our teacher and as I got more confident, I started wearing a leotard and tights. Our teacher encourages us to wear a leotard and tights because it is easier for him to see our posture and correct our moves and mistakes.

Get your dancing comfortable workout outfit here! 

You don’t have to be fit!

Nope, you don’t have to be slim and toned. You are there to get in shape while learning ballet technique! So why would you need to be fit? Beginner adult ballet classes teach you simple moves and steps, so you don’t have to be in excellent physical shape to be able to do them, but you have to take it slowly and not force on the stretching at the barre.

No dancing experience!

Nope, no dance experience required. Again, it is a class to introduce you to the art of dance. You come as you are. If you have dance experience, great! If you don’t, great too!! You will discover and learn the foundations of dance.

Tips

What to wear?

Normally, this is the standard classic ballet outfit: a leotard, pink tights, a wrap skirt and ballet slippers. A ballet skirt is optional because some teachers may not like them or allow them.

Wearing a leotard can be intimidating. You may not be at ease. You may feel like you are showing or exposing too much of your body. That is why there shouldn’t be a ‘dress code’ when you take a beginner adult ballet class.

If you prefer wearing sweat pants and a t-shirt, then do so until you feel comfortable to wear more body-fitted outfits.

As mentioned earlier, the teacher may recommend you to wear close body-fitting outfits such as yoga tights and tank tops rather than loose sweat pants but it shouldn’t be mandatory.

What is important is that you can move comfortably in your clothes.

You may want to wear a sport bra to get a good support when you jump!

If someday you decide to buy a leotard, make sure to maybe order a size up. It shouldn’t feel too tight. You should feel confident in it!

You can find affordable and fashionable leotards, tights and wrap skirts in all sizes ( from straight to plus sizes) online from Danskin.

classical ballet standard outfitThe right footwear

At first you can show up in socks. I showed up in my first class wearing canvas ballet slippers because I used to buy those for my daughter who did ballet for 5 years. If you are not sure what to wear, just show up in socks and ask your teacher what he/she would prefer you to wear. There are 2 types of ballet slippers: canvas or leather. Your teacher may prefer leather slippers instead of canvas for instance.

Hair up!

Preferably, your hair should be tied into a pony tail or bun if you’ve got long hair. That’s because there is a lot of head movement and you don’t want your hair to get in the way.

What to expect?

You will feel disoriented

Don’t get discouraged if you feel totally clueless at first. It is totally normal. I mean, learning ballet is not easy. Not only you have to learn the positions, steps and moves but you also have to get familiar with all the French ballet terms!! Ballet will both challenge your body and mind coordination.

Remember, you are a BEGINNER. With practice, the dance combinations will become more natural. Ballet is about building up the proper technique and making progress. It’s like learning how to drive. You will never forget what you’ve learned because of muscle memory.

This is what you will learn in a basic beginner adult ballet class:

  • Proper core and body alignment.
  • Introduction to the 5 basic ballet positions of arms and feet.
  • Basic barre work (stretches, pliés, rond-de-jambe, tendus etc…)
  • Some floor-barre work. Abdominal exercises.
  • Center practice, combining the dance movements such as glissades, pirouettes, pas-de-bourré etc…
  • Body coordination.

Last tip and final note

Your teacher should be friendly!

I am very lucky that my teacher used to be a professional dancer at the Bordeaux opera house in France. He is passionate about teaching ballet. He teaches proper technique while being very kind, patient and supportive. He hasn’t got any ‘favorites’. He gives out individual corrections. It is so important to have a good instructor that will build up your self-confidence and help you overcome your fears of failure.

I hope that now you feel more than ready to take your first adult beginner ballet class. Please share your experience and leave your comments and questions below. I will be very glad to answer.

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16 Comments

  1. I think your article is very inspiring because it shows that you don’t need any experience to start something new and that anyone can learn something at almost any age. Do you think that ballet is one of the best exercises you can do for increasing flexibility and do you suggest water to increase fluidity?

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Hello Jon, thank you for your comment. I believe ballet is one of the best exercises to increase flexibility. You can also do yoga. I don’t understand your question about water and fluidity. What do you mean?

  2. RazvanIlie says:

    Thanks a lot for such an amazing review about Your first adult beginner ballet class: myths and tips! and explanation is given.

    My daughter does ballet so I said I should try. I have read many articles about adult ballet but this is the best I have read. Surely my daughter will be happy and I will ask her to help me.If you don’t mind, I will share this article on my social media account. Good luck!

    Thanks again for this post.Good luck!

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Awe thank you so much for your comment. I am so happy it helped you make the decision to take ballet!! I am so grateful that you share my article on your social media account!!

  3. Vicki says:

    I LOVE THIS!!! Both my girls were dancers and I have never felt comfortable dancing in front of anyone!! LOL  I do love to workout and do yoga and I feel like a ballet class would combine the two wonderfully!  I feel like I would be way to intimidated to actually go to a class, feeling like I would be the only one who has never done ballet before.  You have defunct that myth though and maybe it is something I will consider.

    I appreciate the tips you have shared!  Thank you

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      I am so glad that my article has convinced you that you should and could take up ballet classes as an adult!! Thank you for your comment!!

  4. James T says:

    I will say that I’ve never gotten the chance to learn ballet. Although, when I was 13, I developed an interest just because of the fact that I had a crush on my female friend. Yes, I wanted to please her. I’m surprised to see that this can be done even at an advanced age. I think this will really help to relax the mind and ease one from the worries of life. I see you talked mostly about the ladies. What about the men? Can you recommend a good adult ballet class?

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Yes men also are most welcomed to take adult ballet class!! Everyone is welcomed! It is as beneficial to men.

  5. Derek. says:

    I have always found Ballet to be something that is only done by the rich or snobby.  I was pulled to your post because I’m always on the look out for new exercise routines.  If ballet ever was purely for the wealthy, you have totally stripped that away in your post.  I’m male and I know there’s a lot of men in Ballet but in your post you stated that women up to the age of 70 have also taken classes.  This is amazing, so it’s not only for the young or well off and you don’t need to be fit.  I would like to ask, do you need a good level of flexibility?  Now that being said, thanks for the share!

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Right, it is true that ballet has this reputation to be for the wealthy. But it is not true at all. You do not need to be flexible to start ballet as a beginner adult. You will get more flexible doing the class!!

  6. Md Millat says:

    Thank you so much for sharing such an excellent article with us. Your article was very interesting and informative. I have got a lot of information about the adult beginner ballet class. Your article is very inspirational because beginners need no experience to get started and anyone can start or learn it at any age. My wife does ballet. So I’m thinking I should give it a try too. I have read many registrations about Adult Ballet but I really enjoyed reading your article. I will definitely get help from my wife about Adult Ballet. I will share your article with my friends so that my friends can benefit from knowing about Adult Ballet.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Thank you very much for your sweet comment! Let me know how your first beginner adult ballet class was?? 

  7. fyre says:

    This article so beautifully displays the power of dance at any age, fitness or, skill level!

    Until the last decade, I always feared any type of choreographed dancing.  Fortunately, I was priviledged to attend a Jr. College in San Diego where I met so many with your same mindset.  I audited every dance class that they would allow!

    Honestly, as confident as I am in the world of free-style dance, I was more than a little terrified when I walked into the ballet studio!  Thankfully, me in my yoga pants and, stocking feet were greeted by men and women of all ages and, the teacher was just as warm and inviting.  You hit home at the end of your article declaring the tip to find a friendly instructor!  It really makes learning a great deal more fun when you can relax and enjoy yourself.

    I also appreciated your love for learning the French ballet terms.  I’ve explored so many dance arts in my lifetime and, one thing that always makes me want to learn more is diving into the cultures where the dance originates.

    My hope is that your article touches everyone that ever thought about taking an adult ballet class.  Also, I have no doubt it will speak to people like me who didn’t even think to try until someone said: “fyre, you will love it!”

    Thank you Anne-Caroline, this is a timeless read and, filled with priceless inspiration! 

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      So happy you had such a positive experience when you attended your first beginner adult ballet class!! How exciting that you were able to attend different types of choreographed dancing!! Sweet 🙂 Thank you for your kind comment.

  8. Brian says:

    That’s nice to know that you can pretty much start learning ballet or taking classes for it at any age. I do want to ask though, is it something that guys can do? It seems that the stigma is that ballet is something that’s just generally for women, but something men should not be seen as doing. Do you see that changing at all? I like the fact that you don’t have to be fit to start ballet and that it helps you get into shape.

    1. Anne-Caroline says:

      Thank you for your question! Yes men are most welcomed to take up ballet classes. I hope the mindset changes and that  we will see more men doing ballet in the future!

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