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How old is too old to start ballet?

Newbie KMR

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Hi, I'm new to the site and to ballet in general.


I was wondering if 21 is too old to start taking ballet. I used to take it when I was a kid (maybe 6?) but stopped when my ballet teacher told me I was too tall to ever do well in ballet. I'm five foot ten, so maybe I am too tall, but I still really want to do ballet, especially pointe.


I do realize that I'll never be a professional ballerina starting at this age, but is pointe even a possibility in the future? I haven't started taking a class yet, but i stretch everyday and I'm trying to get as limber as possible. (I'm not very flexible right now.) Also, are there any stretches or exercises I can do at home to help me prepare for a ballet class (I really don't want to be the worst student in the class as well as the oldest.)


I really would like to start dancing again, honestly I wish I'd never stopped, but I was just a little kid whose feelings were hurt so I've moved on. :-) If anyone has any advice to get started, work I can do to improve, books that are helpful, or anything like that I'd really appreciate it. Also, if this really is just too little, too late let me know, please. I don't want to mess up my feet or anything because I'm too old to start. (I've heard some stories saying that can happen if you haven't been dancing since you were tiny).


Thanks so much!


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Hi Kate, and Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers! You may want to look at our Adult Ballet Students forum as well as this one, as there you will find many stories of people who began ballet lessons at your age and older. I also recommend reading about Muriel Maffre and Ariana Lallone for inspiration--they are both 5'10", and successful principal dancers at San Francisco Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet, respectively (Muriel Maffre has recently retired).


Regarding pointe, that is something for you and your teacher to determine. It depends on whether you have the physical capacity for it (in terms of the flexibility of your feet and ankles) as well as the technique, which takes some time to develop. Typically we recommend a minimum of three 90-minute ballet classes per week for at least three years to build up the necessary technical strength and skill, but it may take longer depending on the individual.


The most important thing you can do is find a good school with experienced, knowledgeable teachers and begin classes. They will teach you which stretches would help you the most.


Good luck, and enjoy!

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Thanks so much for the reply and the welcome! I'll check those resources out as well.


I've been looking online and at I'm just so nervous about going into a class and not being super flexible and prepared. I really want to be able to have an idea of what I'm doing and really be able to make progress with every class. I guess I'm jumping the gun a bit, but the classes I've found in my area only enroll once a year at the start of the school year and I just really want to be as prepared as I can, ya know?




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We understand, Kate, but the thing is, you will learn what you need to do in classes, not from reading or from people who can't see you and show how to do things correctly. No one expects a beginning adult to start out ahead of the game. You really have not had any previous training if you stopped at 6. That was not only too long ago, but more than that, what you were able to learn and do at that age was extremely minimal in terms of ballet. Usually that age is still in pre-ballet or creative movement.


So, the best thing is to just take the plunge. Get into class and go for it! :)

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That is quite understandable. If any schools in your area offer "Intro to ballet" classes for adults, that would be a good place to start. They teach you how classes work, what to expect, etc.


The thing about ballet is that even the learning of very basic things, such as the five positions of the feet and legs, pliés, etc., has to be done in person, as each person's body works a little differently.


Also, you will not be expected to do anything requiring extraordinary flexibility in your first classes. Gaining flexibility is a fairly slow, gradual process--in fact, you may find ballet more challenging mentally than physically at first as you get used to things like turnout, correct posture, moving with the music, etc. It's important to remember that ballet is movement: the gracefulness and musicality of your dancing are more important than how high your legs go.


If you want to generally get in shape before classes begin next year, Pilates classes would probably be helpful. New York City Ballet also has one or two workout DVD's you might enjoy, although some of the exercises are fairly advanced.


Edited to add: Ms. Leigh posted while I was writing--sorry!

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Thanks guys I appreciate it. :-) I'm trying to look for a drop in class or and intro to ballet class like you mentioned even if it means I have to drive a little.


I'm sure it will work out, I just wish I could start now instead of waiting. Although I suppose patience is probably important as well. :-P

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