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Tick tock


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I haven't been dancing very long. Not long enough, if you ask me, but already I can't see myself without dance. I'm not pre-pro, and I enjoy many disciplines of dance besides ballet, but this "hobby" is so incredibly addictive, as you all know. I might get along without it for a while, but once I put those tights back on I can't imagine ever quitting.

The problem is that all of the local studios here are of the high-school-aged competitive company variety and while I can still take general classes there, I'm the oldest in the class and have been so for a while now. (There's an 'adult class' which is mostly middle-aged dance moms, but it's very much below my level.) With every new girl moving up into my level, the age gap grows and grows. This doesn't bother me terribly, but I am afraid of sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb when recital time comes, dancing among 16-year olds when I turn 21 in a few weeks.

It's occurred to me that this might be the last year I'll be able to dance with the studio. I've had a very good time, of course, and I love the people there. I would love to live in a bigger city and be able to take class with people my age, but until I finish college, that isn't possible. I'm beginning my junior year. Nobody would make me leave the studio, but I'm getting somewhat uncomfortable there. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if I weren't also the tallest one! On pointe I hover well above my fellow dancers. :) Not to mention, a 21-year old who's been dancing for five years looks a bit different in a white tutu than a 16-year old who's been dancing for 13 years... but that's beside the point.


Has anyone had to take a similar break from dance? I'm thinking of taking up a martial art to fill the gap, because I really love the focus that physical hobbies bring me. Martial arts would definitely help with the focus and discipline, but like I said, once I put those tights on, I never want to leave. I feel sick just thinking about having to give it up for such an undetermined amount of time.

How do you cope with these things? Any advice would be appreciated greatly. Thank you.

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jazzyme, my opinion, is not to stop because of the age gap... however, stop if you personally need the break, does that make sense.


I'm older than you, and I dance in shows with girls over 10+ years younger than me. Some of them have actually become good friends. But you're right, sometimes the differences are more noticeable, perhaps because they are emphasized in class, or just because of the way I'm feeling. But then my strengths are different than theirs, as our my experiences. Hopefully I bring something different than they do to class, rehearsals, performances, and we all benefit from the variety.

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Hi there, I agree with what Ami said. I used to dance at a studio where I was the 22 year old dancing with kids as young as 13 - the oldest next to me was 17. I agree, you sometimes feel out of place but you must ask yourself why you go to class. If it's to hang out with people your age then it's the wrong thing to do, but if it's to dance it's the right thing. If you're really uncomfortable with the idea then don't do the performances, but if you love dance don't stop altogether! Also, probably no one in you class notices the age difference. In class everyone's so busy bothering about what they're doing they never notice anyone else. Half the kids in my old class were amazed when they found out I was 22 - they thought I was just a couple of years older than they were.

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And here I am, 46, in classes with 12-16 year olds!! I'm not interested in participating in the recital, I just love taking class. I do it for me, and don't care how old the other people in class are. You have to decide why you are there. I agree with Kate B that no one probably notices the age difference. I am in class with girls who go to high school with my son - which is really interesting, because I am getting to know them and my son thinks it's cool and the girls are a lot of fun and really nice.


Do what is right for you, but if you love ballet why stop?

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Knock, knock - mom of one of those 16 year olds in class with the occasional adult student. Please don't quit because of the age difference. We parents like having the maturity in the classroom - tones down those overactive teenaged dramas somewhat. The students admire and respect the adult dancer, and it gives them a perspective on life if you don't go on to dance professionally but rather dance for the joy of it, and another trusted (and not much older "adult") to talk to, relate with and enjoy. You might feel uncomfortable in some way, but I can assure you that the "kids" do not. They love having you there and I'm sure, would miss you if you left.

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Im 25 and some of the girls in my class are as young as 11. Don't let it bother you. If you love what you do keep doing it.


I too have struggled with being the tallest biggest most womanliest body on the stage, not to mention leaving class with a headache from having to listen to too much pre teen giggling ... but nailing that pirouette, not wobbling in arabesque, releves en pointe for the first time... these things make me glad i swallowed pride and stuck it out.


good luck with your decision.

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This is probably the reason why there is such a shortage of adult ballet students in suburban areas. I've run into so many adults (from age 20 to age 60+) who would love to take ballet but they don't want to be the "old one," or the "odd ball out." Alot of studios around here try to start a class for adults but the registration is so low that they cancel the class before it even begins. Or even worse, not enough people commit. The class starts off with ten students, and then in a month there are two. Meanwhile, there are so many people that would take it if they knew a real adult class was available to them. Im not quite sure if there is a good solution to that problem. Its a catch 22. The adults feel silly and don't show interest, therefore the classes aren't available, then adults complain that there are no classes.


I do understand though. I am lucky enough to have a studio reletively close by that has a good adult schedule with a big mix of ages and abilities. I am also close enough to nyc if I needed to go there to find a good adult class. The studios right in my hometown are teeny bopper trophy schools, and even though it would cut alot of costs (gas $$, wear and tear on car, TIME) I rather not take class there with the pre-pro forteen year olds.


Jazzyme- if you have the funds, maybe ask one of the teachers to give you some private lessons? Also, if you really love to dance that much, just take class to take class. Go in, dance your heart out, and leave. You don't need to be in recitals or go to the girl's birthday parties. And even so, teenage girls can look intimidating, especially when they are all together, but some of them are actually very sweet and the "embarressment" factor will slip away once you get to know them a bit. As a 21 year old, and in college, they may even look up to you. I doubt they consider you old. :(

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Kacy—good for you, you are my kind of true adult student. And your last sentence is right on target I think.


Jazzyme, if you are in college, I’m guessing that your aspirations are to dance recreationally and not professionally. If that is the case, I think you have to realize that your college years are really years of exploration and a kind of following your intuition. If you feel bad about your current dance situation, go ahead and try something else. You can always return to dance after college if you wish.


I would think there would be some kinds of dance opportunities at your college, perhaps not in ballet, but perhaps other theatrical dance, folk, or even social. Personally, I think it’s to the benefit of the recreational dancer to experience as many different forms of dance as is possible. We are never going to be great ballet dancers, but we certainly can have a broad experience. I also think you would be surprised at the carry over from one dance form to another.


The adult dancers I know tend to fall into one of two groups. One consists of those people who start at an older age (say > 25) and who are consistent in coming to class until they drop out (eventually, we all must drop out at some time). The second consists of those people who learned young in life and go through periodic spurts, on and off, of dancing because of job, motherhood, or just deciding to do something else for a while.


So my advice is for now to follow your intuition. I don’t think you can do anything wrong with respect to dance at this point in your life.

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I agree with what everyone is already saying. Don't "paint yourself into a corner." So often we place false limitations upon ourselves that really don't have a basis in reality. As long as the teacher is cool with you continuing to take class, why stop? There is always middle ground, as well. Perhaps you take a break from performing and only take class. Or, perhaps you take fewer classes at that studio and you take a class with adults at another studio for the social interaction, even though it is a slower class. Last year, I took class with the junior highers and performed with junior highers at another studio at the age of 29. I am not saying that it didn't have its challenges, but I never would have had the opportunity to perform if I placed limits on myself. Life itself will teach us the limits we need in our lives without us imposing additional ones upon ourselves.

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Or, perhaps you take fewer classes at that studio and you take a class with adults at another studio for the social interaction, even though it is a slower class.


With the class that is adults but slower if the teacher is good you can ask them to give you a more difficult combination. When i used to take adult ballet the teacher would give the excercise then say for the more advanced students try this on demi pointe, or from 5th, or do a double pirouette... etc.

just a suggestion to hopefully help you get more out of the class.

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I love slower classes. They are great places to work on technique. Something that I wouldn't be able to work on in a harder class....like beats...because im still trying to get the cominations down, are good to do in a beginner class. While they are doing basic glissade jete's you can do glissade jete's and add beats. You modify anything. Jut make sure its okay with the teacher first. You might get some "looks" but really...who cares?

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Guest pink tights

Couldn't agree more about the slower classes!! It's a great way to clean up technique---concentrate on articulating the foot during tendus-degages, really focus on turnout, work on alignment--there is much to gain from a beginner/intermediate class.

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Wow, thanks for all the advice!


I didn't mean to mention the adult class in a negative light, but the truth is that the class is very small, very unorganized, and full of wonderful women who just started dancing because their daughters do. Every now and then they get an adult dancer with experience, but they typically don't last very long because they are bored! It's unfortunate, but it's become the nature of the class. Some of them come to class in jeans!

Oh, and, most importantly, it's a tap class. :dry: One tap class, once a week. I forgot to mention that. They aren't serious enough to want anything other than one class per week. But I do love those ladies! They keep our studio running come recital and competition time!


I guess it's something I'll deal with. It's been on my mind for quite a while and this isn't the first time I've questioned myself, but like I said, I just can't quit. The girls are very nice. If they don't mind, why should I? :D Thanks, everyone.

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