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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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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