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

feel like I don't belong


Recommended Posts

I have been feeling more out of place in my ballet classes lately and having a difficult time of it. The studio at which I dance is very small, and there aren't a lot of ballet classes offered in general (not that I could afford all of them if they did, anyway). I currently take one hour long beginning pointe class a week and one hour and a half intermediate/advanced technique class. I feel very out of place in each of these for many reasons:



- I am the only adult in both classes, and I am at least 10 years older and 2 years behind consistent ballet training than the girls

that I dance with.

- I don't look like your typical ballet dancer. I am a former competitive cheerleader and that leaves me a lot "thicker" than the

girls I dance with.

- I am covered in tattoos.



Part of my worries stem from a visceral need to "belong", and part of it is due to a concern that I might make the other dancers (or the parents of these younger dancers) uncomfortable because of how different I am.


Do teachers, younger dancers, or the parents of younger dancers ever feel bothered by things like this? I think it would be comforting to know that they don't, but I would not be surprised if they do.


Please pardon my "quarter-life crisis". I turn 25 this month and as silly as it sounds, I'm really feeling it...

Link to comment
  • Replies 39
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • moreilly


  • swantobe


  • justify


  • luceroblanco


I think we've all been there feeling different, too strangely shaped, or too far behind in skill and technique. The thing is, it is in your head.


Most ballet schools I have been to (granted, that would only be 3), contained a mix of ages, levels, appearances, and physical abilities. What you must learn is that ballet at the adult level is more about the competition with your biggest nemesis...YOURSELF. :)


Forget about everyone else in the class and focus on how you grow, learn and improve. Who cares what the stage Mom's think. Just keep working at it. :wink:


I learned this lesson over again last night. My usual classmates were still on vacay, so I found myself alone in a class with a much more experienced classmate. So I felt slow, clumsy and chronically behind. Actually, considering my holiday weight gain, I probably was slow, clumsy and behind...but I know this, and I know that I will only continue to get in better shape as the year progresses.


You are in the right place, this is a great group on many levels.

Link to comment

Hi Moreilly.


A few years ago I also found myself in a town where the only ballet classes available were ones for children and teens, so I can relate to that out of place feeling. Most 25 (or 30ish, in my case) bodies are just really different than teenage ones, so it's easy to feel like a sore thumb.


I think the best thing is just to embrace the advantages that we have as adults. Since none of the kids in class are our peers anyway, we're free to focus entirely on what the teacher is saying and on executing it to the best of our ability.


If a teacher is opening his/her class to adult students, then I imagine it's because he/she appreciates the focus and good manners that adults tend to bring to the classroom. One class that I took as a teen had women in their 30s and 40s that attended (at different times) and it never bothered me or anybody else in the least. If anything, I think their being there really improved the classroom environment.


As a parent, I can tell you that the only person I really notice when I'm watching my daughter's dance class is my daughter. The only thing that I can imagine ever bothering me at all (because I am a square) is if my daughter thought your tattoos were super cool and started bugging me to get some of her own! :)

Link to comment

I am very aware that my biggest nemesis is myself! I often get so hard on myself during and directly after class that I think I'd like to stop going to classes at all, but in between class days it's all I think about and I don't think I could give it up at this point. I'm just struggling very much right now to see improvement in myself, not to mention the fact that I certainly don't want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable having me in class.


It helps that I have a very exceptional teacher in my technique class with whom I have bonded quite a bit, but she is moving this summer and I find that very disheartening...


Justify, I DO worry about being a "bad influence" in that manner for some of these girls! :) I didn't even think about my tattoos being noticeable in the beginning until my first day in the intermediate/advanced class when I had a girl staring open-mouthed at me the whole class. I certainly don't want to distract anyone!

Link to comment

It might be nice if you could find a class that does have more adults in it, moreilly.


First off, you do need to stop comparing yourself to teens. You are not going to improve if you are wasting your energy & effort with comparing yourself to others. I don't even want you to notice what the other dancers are wearing, or what they are able to do in your next class- I want you focusing on you and of course, being cognizant of other beings within the classroom, so you don't run into them, but truly only focusing on you!


Not that I'm a fan of tattoos- I'm not, BUT one does need to teach one's children not to judge a book by its cover. I'm sure you are a kind and good person, and let's remember that Ted Bundy didn't have any tattoos.... :)

Link to comment

Thank goodness we're not teenagers anymore, right? I totally would never want to go through the adolescent hormones and angst again! Having taken classes with teens before (and me being the only one in my 20's), it's interesting, b/c they generally have this lack of fear about making mistakes, and trying new things, that most adults have. I felt like I learned a lot from them! Likewise, they can learn focus and other habits from us; a lot of times it's good for teenagers to see how adults are in classes that arn't their parents or teachers. I think no one ever really fits in (probably most of the kids in your class feel this too)- I think it's helpful to get to know the others in your class- have conversations about the weather, ask them to help you with things that they do well that you're struggling with (kids and teens loooove being the experts!). If you're worried about tattoos, maybe wear a pullover shirt or more opaque stockings? This is what a few tattooed people in the class that I'm taking do. Good luck!

Link to comment

We had a lot of teens at one of my classes as a while. They were studying dance at college and got extra credit for coming to ballet classes. I think some of the other students felt a bit 'invaded', and the teens naturally stuck together at first - but they were really lovely once you started talking to them. I think a lot of people thought that these girls would be judgmental because they were actually studying dance, but they were always more worried about their own issues than anything else - in fact, they were surprisingly insecure and were always comparing themselves negatively to other students.


The staring girl probably wants a tattoo herself, and is pondering enlisting you to lobby her parents :)

Link to comment

Haha, yes, that's true that Ted Bundy was quite clean cut!


I have had trouble finding classes more geared toward adults in my area. A lot of the good studios around only offer beginning adult classes if anything at all, and the beginning adult classes I've attended seem to be more geared toward having a good time and getting a little exercise. While I do not "need" more vigorous or constructive classes (let's face it, I won't ever be dancing for anyone but me) I'm very much a perfectionist and I enjoy progressing in an activity more than just getting the exercise.


Does anyone know of any good adult classes in the Reno, NV area?

Link to comment

I also attend classes with girls 6-10 years younger than I am (I am 24), but I've learnt to deal with it over time. I think, as others have said, focusing on your own dancing is key. I've played the "comparison game" (technique-wise especially) once or twice and it just makes you feel horrible as a dancer...so I try not to do that anymore...I think I am mostly jealous :wink: of the girls whose parents pay for them to have private lessons and who get to learn repertoire etc in a student company (I'm too old for that :) )...

Most of the teens are really nice when you get to know them and when they get less scared of you!


I also find that going to an adults' class is helpful. Last year, one of the only ones I could make it to was a beginners' adult ballet class, but I still went and will still be going in the new year, although it has become a bit more of a low intermediate class rather than a beginner's class now. I use the class to work on technique (rotation/turnout, alignment, better port de bras etc) and because the teacher knows that I am usually in more advanced classes, she will sometimes adapt the exercises for me - I do things on a rise, do double instead of single pirouettes, get more complicated port de bras, am asked to add beats in allegro. To be clear, I do this adults' class in addition to my more advanced classes with the teens.


I hope you can find an adults' class in addition to your other classes and that you begin to feel a bit more comfortable in the teens' class.

Link to comment

I hope so, too. Hopefully we'll have enough money for me to add to the classes I'm taking rather than just trying to balance everything by switching one class out for another...

Link to comment

Yes, finances are always a consideration :) I sacrifice quite a bit to be able to afford all my ballet classes...but I'd rather have more classes and less other stuff! :wink:

Link to comment

Moreilly, how tattoo'd are you? Are we talking eligible for the circus or do you have a butterfly tat on your ankle? Would it help to just cover it up as to not feel like you are distracting anyone?


I'm a big fan of elite gymnastics, and some of the girls on the US team that have tats cover them with a bandage/athletic tape. If they are bigger than that, how about one of those singlet pieces like this...



Link to comment

Reno is one of the places I was thinking of. Love that place, but I didn't find a whole lot of ballet when I was there.

I never met Pat Casey in person, but she used to teach what I think was a beginning/ intermediate class at Truckee Meadows Community College. That might be a good place to start looking, as I know their per-credit-hour prices are very reasonable. Also, she is the person who pointed me in the right direction when I was looking for a teacher in the area.

Cheryl Bruce used to teach a good int/advanced class in Reno. It wasn't specifically for adults, but her students were pleasant and hard working. I don't know if she's still in the area, bu I'd look into it.

I can give you one of my email adresses if you'd like some other suggestions/ opinions. (Is that allowed?)

Clara76 makes some excellent points about tattoos. I really wouldn't worry about it if I were you!

And if the class you're currently attending is a good fit technically and not hostile, then I might just resolve to focus on my own technique and then stick around.

Edited by justify
Link to comment

V quick - but you might want to check out the university offerings? Even if it's a university 'club' as opposed to a 'credit' class?


Second, don't worry about the tattoos. Seriously. You're an adult. I have five earrings on each ear and I don't know anyone who knows me who'd classify me as rebellious or anything, and at the end of the day, it doesn't change my dancing. Another woman in my class has tattoos, and the only time it freaks me out is when I can see one of them, which is a snake. Yes, I am that afraid of snakes that even a tattoo, National Geographic, toy version, etc., can make me squeamish.... that is obviously my own issue to deal with!

Link to comment

Have you explored community colleges in your area? Here in Southern California, most, if not all, community colleges offer Ballet 1 and 2, and several offer Ballet 3 and 4. The big upside is that your costs are significantly cheaper with a community college, and your classmates are at least 18-year old (and older) men and women.

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...