Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers to close ×
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Career: Late Start


Recommended Posts

Is it possible for FEMALE late starters (say, age 13...) to achieve a professional ballet career? I always hear about the ballerinas who have danced since birth; but, never about any who started late. Does anyone know of any ballerinas who started late? Also, does anyone have any advice for the late starter who is actively pursing a ballet career?

Link to comment

There have been many threads on this and I think that you will find the answer to be simply: It's impossible for the moderators or anyone else on this board to tell you for sure because we cannot see you in person to judge your physical facility for dance. While some people have managed professional careers starting late, they are rare cases. Just try as hard as you can, get the best training out there, and never give up! Good luck!


And if want examples:

Misty Copeland of ABT started at 13. Valerie Robin of The JOffrey Ballet started at 14. I think Sylvie Guillem started late as well (though you can hardly compare anyone to her...)


Hope this helped,


Link to comment

Evelyn Hart began ballet training at age 14 and became a ballet superstar. However, dancers like her are few and far between. Hart has devoted her entire life to ballet, giving up just about everything else, such was her devotion. She hardly saw her family, including her twin sister, because she usually had to be dancing or rehearsing somewhere in the world (she acheived cult status in Japan). She danced for 30 years with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, until she was 49 years old, and would have continued had a new contract been offered.


I seem to remember that Melissa Hayden started in her teens as well, but here you have another remarkable dancer. You have to have the facility in the first place and the drive and passion in the second, and, of course, the right training!


Sylvie Guillem, by the way, trained first to be a gymnast, so that was her base for ballet training.

Link to comment

And I also think Sylvie entered the POB school at 11 years old which is not that "old" to start ballet....

BTW, it is not correct, IMHO, for us mere mortals to compare ourselves to her!

Best of luck LL689!

Link to comment

My advice to you would be to work hard and get the best training available to you. My daughter started at 12 1/2. She is currently a senior in H.S. and about to find out if she's company ready.She auditioned for a company last year and has been invited to a call back audition next month. She has caught up to others her age. It required a lot of perserverance and serious work. There have been many challenges and disappointments along the way, but she has never wavered. She was born with a certain amount of physical facilty, good but not perfect by any means. One of her teachers told an audience of parents and students that she believes anyone can dance or find their place in the dance world. Not everyone will get paid perhaps, but all can find a place. Do what you love. Good luck to you.

Link to comment

Thanks for all of your input.

I really love hearing about people who have worked hard, no matter what disadvantages they may have faced.

Good luck to your daughter, ddm3! I hope she gets into the company! How exciting! It must be a dream come true for her...!!! :)

Link to comment

I know of a dancer, who now is prima ballerina in a South American company, who started at 12. She is an example of what hard work can achieve, because she is not pretty and she does not have very outstanding features. But at the audition for promotion she did a neoclassical pas de deux that took one's breath away - and that is how she earned her current position.


Also Darcey Bussell started at 13, I believe.

Link to comment

Thanks, Leaping Lizard! We'll see what happens. She just auditioned for Indiana Univ yesterday. We're not sure if she will go the college ballet program route or directly to a company. She wants to dance, but feels that she could use some additional training. Another little tidbit of advice for you would be to get a good number of classes in on a regular basis. Take lower level classes if need be. I think my daughter should have done this. The first year she only took 3 ballet technique classes, then the following increased to 4 classes per week. I think she could have done more. We didn't know it would turn out this way when she first started. Good luck to you.

Link to comment

My oldest daughter did not begin serious ballet training until she was 15. She did make it to a pro career in a regional company. She retired last year after dancing professionally for 9 years. She is one of those extremely flexible dancers, ligaments made out of jelly and has an inborn musicality and is intelligent. With those natural attributes she was able to make it despite a late start. Dancing professionally was not the goal of her life or ours until she was 16 1/2 and it started looking like it could be a possibility. Her younger sisters started dancing much younger and it was much easier for them. If you were like me, you didn't start your daughter in dance class with the goal of a career. The goal was to attend dance class and enjoy it. So, now that she has decided that she would like a career, the only thing to do is to get the best training that she can and go to auditions auditions auditions when she is ready. She doesn't have to audition at 17, wait until she feels that she is company ready to do the auditions.

Link to comment

Wow. These stories are really encouraging. I realize that it is HARD to make it in dance (especially with a late start) but it is not entirely impossible. Thanks for all of your input! I really appreciate it! :)

Link to comment

Suprisingly i think Darcey Bussel started ballet at 13 or 12. That says a lot though since she was excepted into the Royal Ballet School.

Link to comment

The benefits of training at the Royal Ballet School when, you are starting late, are great because you start right off the bat with wonderful training. This way you aren't wasting time trying to figure it all out. That is the other downside to starting late. But as I said before, I think it is definitely possible. It hasn't been an easy ride for my dd, but if you have the right equipment, great work ethic and the right attitude, it is certainly possible. Allegra Kent started when she was around 11 or 12 and was in NYCB by the age of 15. I recommend reading her autobiography. It's a real eyeopener!

Link to comment
Guest emilymac

I was 11 or 12 when I started dancing. I managed to catch up, and I am 16 and at a level suitable for my age. I think sometimes dancers like to impress others and say that they have danced for "15 years when they are only 17" but honestly I don't think most dancers really learn anything until the age of 8. And even then, I definitely think it is possible to start late!

Link to comment
  • 3 weeks later...
Guest pointe_shoes
I was 11 or 12 when I started dancing. I managed to catch up, and I am 16 and at a level suitable for my age. I think sometimes dancers like to impress others and say that they have danced for "15 years when they are only 17" but honestly I don't think most dancers really learn anything until the age of 8. And even then, I definitely think it is possible to start late!


I was 3 when i started but unlike some other girls i can't afford 13 classes so i only take 3. Considering i am 15, and i have been dancing for 13 years, i am going to try out for the first time for the Nutcracker, not to get the role as a rat or a party person, but as a snowdrop or a dewdrop and a semi not minor role. But as i say, early or late, your nevr to old to start dancing. Good Luck!

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...