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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Career: Late Start


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Guest Turnout Burnout

I am a male dancer and I started at 15. I wish now I had started when I had the chance at 11. My personal observation is that there are numerous cases of male dancers doing well after starting late... one of my teachers started when he was 19 and was a principal dancer around the world. I am not familiar with the female side of ballet (three quarters of my teachers are male and I have "grown up" so to say in an environment where there often were more guys than girls for partnering) so I do not claim to fully comprehend how different it is for young women than young men to make it in dance. I do know, however, that it is quite possible for males to do well starting late given they work hard and focus.

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One of the faculty members at my daughter's previous company school did not begin dancing until she was a freshman in college. She went on to dance professionally for many years and then became a ballet teacher at a pre-pro school. She had been involved in other forms of dance in high school, but not as a serious student. Of course, it helped that she had a body well suited to ballet and was a bright, quick learner! :grinning:

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  • 3 weeks later...

I danced as a "recreational but somewhat serious" student from age 8-21 at decent recreational local schools/civic companies and college. Stopped dancing (or exercising whatsoever) for about 5 years and re-began at age 26 with really great teachers in New York. For three years I took about 10 classes a week + some privates + chiropractors/pilates etc... I got accepted as an apprentice into a well-regarded regional company where I'm currently dancing in my second season as an apprentice.


Not exactly a late start, but a "non-traditional" route to a career as a dancer. It takes REALLY the best teachers you can find and a lot of work. My body naturally makes the right types of lines for ballet (good feet and legs, etc) so the physical end was really just a matter of conditioning correctly. And I really feel it took a lot of thinking and analyzing and having the BEST teachers I could get/afford.


The quailty of instruction is still extremely important to me as I start the dancing phase of my career. Training with people you trust/have seen the results from/ is key. That stupid saying "proof is in the pudding"...it's true.


The best teachers I've met can get nice results from ANY type of body.


It's so individual, too. The top companies may be out of reach for a late starter, but hey, they're out of reach for early starters too. If you want to dance professionally, and you have talent, drive, and the best instruction...some type of career is within the realm of possibility.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Here's a little update for you regarding the late starter. My dd has recently been accepted to a very prestigious college dance program. She's been told by her main instructors that at age 18, she is company ready. She has done a few auditions and it seems she is pretty on par with most auditioning this season. I am not sure however if she will join a professional company upon graduating from high school as the opportunity to continue her education is difficult to pass up! So, it is very possible to pursue a career as a late starter!

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i'm not sure you'd consider this a late starter, but i didn't start dancing until i was 12. it was so embarassing to be in the beginner class with kids half my height and age!!! i decided to work really hard so i could catch up with the other kids my age who had been dancing practically from the womb. well, i eventually did, and have been dancing professionally since i was 18....yes, talent has something to do with it (although i was not born with a body necessarily meant to do ballet), but you'd be surprised at where hard work can take you!!!

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  • 2 years later...

hey. my name is emily. i'm 18 years old and i started dancing when i was four years old and stopped about a year and a half ago. when i turned about thirteen years old, i started taking seven to eight classes a week. i stopped because it became too much and i wanted to focus on other things i had an interest in, one of them being fashion. i'm currently going to college for fashion marketing and got a big reality check. i really want to go back into dancing and have wanted to for a few months now. dancing is actually my passion. i have been practicing and stretching to gain my flexibility back and realized that i didn't really lose any of my technique. i would love to make a career of it even though it is highly competitive and i'm willing to dedicate all of my free time to taking classes and practicing. whether i can make it a career or not, i'm still going to start again because i love it so much but i was just wondering if there is a chance considering the fact that i'm 18 and i've been out of it for about two years? i would really appreciate any suggestions or feedback!


thank you!


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Hi, marchface, and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers. :clapping:


Picking up something you love to do will be very pleasant for you. Whether you can make a career go of it will depend on a lot of things, since you've been out of class for two years. Where you were in terms of advancement, against a scale of all dancers, is probably the most important thing. You will have to start at a lower level in order to reach the place you were when you took your hiatus, and do it safely. Also to be considered is whether you have access to a very high-level school where you are, so that you can get the best instruction you can get, if you have performing aspirations. And then, too, there is the matter of your body. When you were thirteen, everything was possible. At eighteen, things may not be so possible now. You need an evaluation by a teacher who has brought dancers up to the professional level. See what s/he thinks. We'd love to be positive in answering your questions here, but the truth is, we can't see you, so we don't know what you have on the balance sheet - the pluses and the minuses. We can't answer either way, because we can't see you! :wacko:

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Thank you so much for your feedback. i understand about not being able to see me. i'm about x pounds (number deleted in accordance with board policy). i know i have to work on my flexibility and i need to do some toning to get back to where i was a couple of years ago. i'm excersing everyday and doing a lot of stretching. i live in philadelphia. do you know of any way i can find out which dance schools are the best to check out around my area? i was thinking about starting at an intermediate level unless that is too high. i have a large background of ballet experience and i've been practicing movements i remember and i feel that beginner may be too low. i don't really feel i lost much of my technique.

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Well, with Pennsylvania Ballet RIGHT THERE, there are more than just a few schools in Philadelphia with the right credentials to provide you with professional-level training! Look around. Intermediate may be a good place to restart, but it will all depend on your teacher and school. See what they have to say. :wacko:

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