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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Too old to start?

Guest mystargirlrocks

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Guest mystargirlrocks

How old is too old to really start ballet? I'm 48, and feel older since I was injured 3+ years ago. I haven't been able to really exercise as I used to, but feel ready to start something. The only real exercise I really enjoy is dancing, but is the strain going to be too much for me?

I've tried following along with my daughter and her ballet tapes. I can make it about 15 minutes before I'm winded and too sore to go on. The thighs burn with all those plies! Also, I have to modify the arm placements as I still cannot hold my arms out to the side for very long. (the injury is a repetive strain to my neck shoulders and upper back).


Anyone out there that ever started 'old' and/or injured, that can offer some advise?

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Guest Mary J

I am in my mid-50's and I started ballet in January. I had taken ballet in college, but given it up at 21. I was a runner/jogger for many years until my knees started to complain. I absolutely love taking classes, even though I am undoubtedly the oldest beginner this school has seen! There is only one class open to adult beginners (and I am the only "adult" over the age of 18 - ), so I also take a private lesson from the same teacher once a week. She is very patient and encouraging, and intrigued by my late blooming interest. The teenagers in my class are not particularly focused during class and I think she likes my seriousness. I can't take myself too seriously but I pay attention to her corrections and try my best with everything. I am a little self conscious but why should I be, if I am having fun?


I am slowly making progress in the barre portion of class but am pretty lost in the center. That is where the private lesson helps, because I can break the combinations down into manageable steps. I was never good at turns but I will try, and I am practicing spotting as much as I can. The best thing, in addition to the thrill of learning something new, is that I feel physically re-invigorated after class. Good old serotonin rush!

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Guest Ballet Nearby

Spring Greetings,


I have witnessed many beginning students over 40 including myself.


First of all, my husband and I started about 6 years ago. We really enjoy lessons and we are taking twice a week or some times more ever since we started.

When my husband agrees to take a ballet class with me (he always loved to watch ballet, opera, etc.) he had a hip injury and doctors told him that his pain might or might not continue to the rest of his life.

As far as to my knowledge, my husband is the most inflexble person I ever saw in the ballet class. At the time of his start, he couldn't even put his leg up on the lower barre unless he bends his supporting leg (and of course, his working leg was also bended on the top of barre). I also recall he had hard time bringing his leg down once he manages himself to put his leg up on the LOWER barre. This man is 6 feet tall with short arms but not short legs). Our first teacher was some what had a strange sense of humor and she said to him at the end of center excise, "You walked whole through!" meaning, we were doing a simple chasse or gallop across the studio one at the time or with the class ( he never dare to do anything by himself unless at least 4 to 5 people were with him for the emortional security.) I am so proud of him that he swallowed all his pride and kept up the ballet.


Our studio life went on and on untill a year or so later, he noticed his hip doesn't hurts anymore. And ofcourse by then, he can do lower barre without bending his legs. He might be using the upper barre now, I don't know... I tend to stand a far away from him. (just kidding). He is doing much better, He even do a good Pirouette now and then.


Another example was a lady who is recovering from a physical atrophy was taking the class with us but by the time she was getting better, she switched to Jazz. Currently, our class mate who just recover from brocken bones is trying hard to getting back to her former strengh. Other than these people I mentioned, I withnessed at least 4 to 5 senior citizens come and go but those who continues are the winners! I forgot to mentioned that I had pinch nerve on my shoulder when I started but dissapeared after a few months. Yes, we were both wreck at the time. Good Luck!

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I do not recommend trying to learn ballet by following along with video tapes. You could almost certainly start now and make progress and get a lot out of ballet. But trying to do that without a teacher is foolhearty.

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There is that old cliche "Its never too late to start" and its true! All the best of luck to you. A couple tips for you: Instead of following a tape that cannot give corrections, try finding a beginners adult class if available. Also, remember to breathe as you dance, I have seen a lot of adult dancers that are concentrating so hard on the movement itself that they forget to inhale and exhale...thus you feel winded and your muscles are more strained in trying to execute a movement. More cramps develop as well if the muscles are not getting the required oxygen. Most importantly, enjoy dancing.

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Guest Ballet Nearby

Pointehill, that beathing information is very helpful. Teachers always say "Breathe!" but I never connected it with muscle cramps or exhaustion.


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I met a woman at an open class who had started dancing at 70 years of age and is still dancing at 77. She was quite incredible.



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I don't think the age is a factor at all... Your fitness and health are a more important one though, and that's what needs to be checked before going to a class.


If you've been given the ok to start a class, then you should check that the teacher is an experienced one and clearly knows what s/he teaches (does it safely too).


After that it can only be beneficial for you. :)

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Guest grace

"Too old to start?"


- never.


but i am meaning WITH A GOOD TEACHER.


i underline citibob's post.


at a wild guess (from the burning thighs comment), it SOUNDS to me like you are doing full 'grand' plies with that tape - quite possibly in various positions? a good teacher would probably not allow you to do any FULL plies in any position, at this early stage of your learning...it sounds like you are doing too much too soon and could easily injure yourself.


DO find a good teacher - its so much more fun - and safer - that way.


best wishes to that end! :)

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A lady I knew at my old studio began ballet at age 79 or so. When I met her she was in her early eighties. She began ballroom dancing with a senior citizen group and liked it so much she decided to take a beginning ballet class to see if she could improve on her ballroom dancing. She looked absolutely lovely and said the ballet helped her occaisional arthritis. The instructor took a picture of her doing a port de bras with one leg on the barre, and she looks great!!! She is modest to a fault, but all of the other students there insisted the teacher frame that picture and display it. Sometimes when I am surrounded by young, flexible, energetic dancers, and I'm feeling particularly old, stiff and tired, I think of that beautiful picture. I hope I look as good when I'm in my eighties!

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I'm 48.

I started at age 47.


Find a good teacher, let them know your physical limitations, it will burn, your body will get stronger, and you will become addicted.

Be careful of not doing something which causes issues, but you can do it!

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Guest Dennis

I'm 59 years old and just started ballet 12 lessons ago and I really love it. I too couldn't get my leg over the lower barre without bending my supporting leg. I'm now on the higher barre with no bend and am also able to do the arabesque position as well. That's been tough since I have lower back problems that prevent me from arching my back too much, yet anyway.


I've got a great teacher who takes the time to work with me on a move when I ask and is always very supportive. I cannot believe the progress I've made even though I realize I'll never perform in a ballet. I also cannot believe that I'm really able to do most of the moves (even center floor) that the other younger adults can. That is very satisfying. It's really a matter of staying focused and being patient. Learning all of this takes time and plenty of practice.


I must state that it's really hillarious when I do a grande plier and my knees always crack. Everyone looks around to see where the noise came from.


You're never too old to do ballet. Enjoy it!



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I'm 45, and just started lessons in January. If the spirit is willing, the flesh can do it -- however weak (or unflexible) it is.


Lesson #1: Go slowly. Know your own limitations. My instructor understands that I am overweight and have an arthritic knee. She permits me to modify any exercise I feel I can't safely do. So, no full pliés for me, no fondues, no pirouette position (due to my schedule, I take an advanced beginner class). Talk to your instructor about how to substitute positions and exercises.


Lesson #2: Don't compare yourself to your daughter or her friends. They are young and supple, and have been doing this forever. Do ask her for advice -- your daughter will love being the expert, even if she sounds exasperated at your incompetence.


Lesson #3: It's really fun if you can take class with other ballet moms and dads. You're all in it together, and there's safety in numbers. No one's child dares laugh, because even though they might giggle at the thought of their own parent in leo and tights, they are all too polite to laugh at someone else's parent. Plus, it helps build community spirit at the studio.


Lesson #4: It feels really, really good. It's a unique combination of working out mind and body.


Go for it! Let us know how you do.

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I'm 52. I started ballet 3 1/2 years ago, and now find myself at intermediate one level. I take two regular classes a week, plus a repertoire class where I am rehearsing a oriental pas de deux and also a spanish solo, both abstracts from Glazunov's Raymonda, this in view of a June performance. I'm very excited about that.


Could'nt agree more with my colleagues on the importance of finding a good teacher. But how do you do that when you are an absolute beginner and have no idea of what is a good ballet teacher. I offer you my 3 years experience point of view on this. I like my teacher because:


1. She always insists on proper warm up before class.


2. She is absolutely intransigent on the importance of solid and sound basis as a way of avoiding injuries. After 3 1/2 years at it, I am proud to say that I never missed a class because of an injury.


3. She entirely trusts her students to be the best and only judge of what they can do and what they cannot. I have never seen her push somebody who was reluctant to perform a strech, a movement, a combination or a jump.


4. She takes us very seriously, as if we were all going to perform on stage some day. She is very demanding, and I love it...


Hope this helps.


By the way Denis, I have a question for you: would you perform in a ballet if you you would have an oportunity?


So long,



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