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advanced ballet class for adults in Houston


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I was a dancer for 15 years and am resuming after an equally long hiatus (I'm in my 30's). I'm having difficulty finding a class that is appropriate to my level. I've observed several of the adult classes at some local studios, but they are geared towards beginning students. Many of the studios I've gone to are hesitant to allow me to take their advanced syllabus classes because they think I am too old. I've had a discussion with one office manager THREE times about why the studio's adult class is not appropriate and one instructor was rude enough to comment, "OMG! There's no way your knees and feet can handle the center work!" (Incidentally, my knees and feet are fine and the woman has never observed me doing anything other than walking down the hall).


Are there any studios in the west Houston area that provide intermediate/advanced classes for adults? I'm getting really discouraged by all the negative reactions I receive from studios because of my age.

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Are you looking for open classes at all? In California, where I am , anyone can walk into the intermediate open adult classes and we have a super selection from Beginner/ Intermediate to more Advanced and pointe classes.

Is it ONLY a syllabus class you are interested in? If not, I wouldn't say it's anyone's business which class you take! How rude of them to disallow you! :(

It seems weird that they wouldn't at least let you TRY a class!!! If I were you I wouldn't want anything to do with such a rude school...maybe look for open classes?

Also, how could they possibly know your level if they haven't seen you dance. There are lots of thirty and early forty somethings in my classes who could dance circles around many of the teens!

These people sound ignorant! :(

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I know Hope Stone and Houston Ballet Academy both offer a more advanced adult class. Unfortunately, both are located inside the loop.

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Denying a student past a certain age or dedication level to take syllabus classes isn't rude; it is the choice of the school's administration. Sure the girl was rude in making such an inflammatory statement, but syllabus classes at a pre-professional school can (and should) be reserved for career oriented young dancers within an age group. Perhaps one could budge a few years or so, but 15 years of not practicing is bound to be rough on one's stamina, strength, muscle memory, and even flexibility. After only a 2.5 year hiatus, I find it very difficult to do many things that came easily to me when I was dancing everyday. When a normal curriculum program allows an adult dancer into its classrooms, it's considered a very lucky and fortunate thing and usually dependent on certain circumstances (ie. adult is a visiting professional that needs to maintain daily classes, adult is brushing up for an audition, or adult shows precocity and is enrolled in the full program taking classes daily without absence).


I really recommend Houston Ballet's adult classes. The advanced classes will really be great, well paced and well taught environments for you. The facilities are also quite nice too. I have heard and seen many, many good things about the Ben Stevenson Academy/Houston Ballet.

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I have no preference regarding whether it is a syllabus or open class. I appreciate the suggestions everyone has offered. I will definitely try the Houston Ballet's open class!


To Silver Circle - every dancer is different. Just because you have had difficulty after a 2.5 year hiatus, does not mean that everyone has, or will have, the same experience. Despite being out of dance for 15 years, I have maintained a high level of fitness with yoga, biking, running, and weight lifting. I have practiced basic ballet steps for almost 1.5 hrs every day for the past year despite not having taken any formal classes. My stamina and technique have actually improved in comparison to when I was taking formal classes. To assume that someone lacks the ability, stamina, or technique, required to enroll in a syllabus class simply because of their age is nothing less than discriminatory. A school administrator or instructor would never dare deny someone access to a class based upon their race, ethnicity, or religion, so I find it appalling that someone would discourage me from trying a class just because they think I am too old. Had the instructor actually observed me dance and then determined that I was not up to par would have been one thing; to make an inappropriate comment and automatically eliminate me as a possible student is an entirely different thing.


Age is not an indicator of ability. Many famous ballerinas were active until well past their 30's - Gelsy Kirkland was 34 when she did her last performance, Darci Kistler retired at 45, and Allegra Kent performed a pas de deux at 54. Natalia Makarova (sp?) did swan lake at 45.


The facility with the rude instructor was not a pre-professional school. The director of the studio had no problem with me observing, or joining, the class -- it was the instructor who was rude. Her behavior in class was appalling as well -- she ridiculed the students and was excessively critical. While this is probably a topic for a different forum, I am debating about contacting the director re: the instructor's inappropriate comments to me and her behavior towards the students.

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You can just call me out by screen name you know, I don't mind. I was a school administrator/director for a while, and still sit on a board of directors for a school. I simply don't find it apalling that age is considered a factor, and that perhaps a school would want to focus on a younger crop of dancers to advance their graduates towards careers instead of someone in their 30's who, even in great shape and peak physical condition has not been in class for 15 years and may have forgotten a variation or two, or how to hold their center in a partnered lift. Sure a 30 year old might still have quite a few years left in their career, but outside of having been an extremely skilled career dancer making a comeback the odds are that there would be many institutions, not just this one you encountered or me, that would ask you to join adult class. I'm just saying, let's not get all offended that age is still considered a factor in present day dance! Call up SF Ballet and ask to join their academy at age 25... likely they'll tell you they're focusing on younger dancers.


Schools progress daily in curriculum, and it's not a mean generalization to assume that many 30 somethings can't make the time commitment to be a part of that daily progression too. As mentioned before, there are many factors to why a teacher should not be condemned for not accepting an older student in a non open class... otherwise those classes would be called open.


These isolated incidences of professional dancers performing late into their 50's are not common, and quite frankly, (this statement may unleash forum rage) Ms. Fonteyn had a noticeable decline in her physical ability in her much later performances. We know these dancers' names because it is uncommon. You said you had a 15 year hiatus, yet you practiced 1.5 hours everyday (more than the average adult dancer), so technically it is not a hiatus at all. You could have just said you are an advanced dancer who practices technique 10.5 hours a week and needed a class that could keep up with you.


Meanwhile, I'm wondering if I should curl up into fetal position because of an implied observation that after 2.5 years, I obviously cannot keep up unlike some people. I feel like perhaps I should be ashamed that I can only eek out a pathetic triple pirouette en pointe on one side (*Gasp!* One side!) and my pencheé is only a meager 100 degrees. Hahaha, I'm kidding.. seriously though, I'm sorry if you thought my generalizations were harsh. I guess all generalizations are. I hope you have fun at Houston Ballet.


It's more like 120 degrees on my good side.

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I did not mean to imply that 2.5 years is meager, slow, or unsatisfactory, which is why I emphasized that "EVERY DANCER IS DIFFERENT." My progress cannot be measured against your progress against someone else's progress. If that were the case, we would all probably feel like failures. Perhaps your goals in terms of progress are different than mine (my goal is to maintain my balance in a penchee versus increase the angle of my leg to acrobatic proportions).


Incidentally, I'd like to see a 120 degree penchee, as that would indicate that not only are you able to raise your back leg until it forms a perfect vertical line with your front leg, but that your back leg is actually hyper-extended past the junction of your lower back. (from a mathematical point of view, the angle of the penchee should be measured from the back of the supporting leg to the front of the raised leg, not vice versa ). Not to suggest that you aren't able to do this --- I don't know you and if you say your penchee is that impressive, I believe you --- but the only people I've ever seen demonstrate such flexibility are gymnasts and acrobats from Cirq de Soleil.


We have to keep in mind that the studio I am referring to is NOT A PROFESSIONAL SCHOOL. I did not walk into the Houston Ballet and demand that I be allowed entry into one of the classes at their training academy. This was a local studio that advertised classes open to all ages. By enrolling in class, I was not displacing anyone or preventing a young student with professional potential from receiving the training he/she deserved. Had this been a pre-professional school, I would understand the school's reluctance to allow me to take class, but as I've mentioned, such was not the case. The primary distinction between my argument and yours is that we are referring to very different types of institutions.


Discrimination is defined as "treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group,class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit." In a non-pre-professional, local yocal, studio with advertised classes open to all ages, the instructor's response to me without a doubt constitutes discrimination. And again, I emphasize that the ADMINISTRATION/DIRECTOR had no problem with taking classes -- she was the one who encouraged me to observe the class, so my situation is not akin to those that you may have encountered.


I do not consider myself special, gifted, or on par with any professional dancer. I recognize that the "elderly" dancers I mentioned are unique cases. However, my point was that you can't judge ability based upon age. Even after age-related declines, I venture that Ms. Fonteyn in her 50's still had abilities that exceed those of your average (not professional ) 20 year-old in peak condition.


In summary, my situation involved a LOCAL, non-professional, studio that advertised open classes. Your experiences involved a pre-professional institution with non-open classes. We are not talking about the same thing. I hope this clarifies things and helps you understand my response

Edited by alarery
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Could we try to keep the conversation civil, please? We ask that posters here speak from their own first-hand experience, and offer their views based on their own experience. These experiences may differ, but that does not invalidate them. We try to read others' views and experiences and take what is useful from them, and leave the rest. There is no need to dispute or correct other posters, point by point, nor to emphasise points beyond normal message board usage. If advice isn't useful to an individual's circumstance, that doesn't mean it's wrong.


Alerary, just a note for the future: you seem to have mistaken the "level" of posting history for a poster's name. You'll see the poster's message board name first. The phrase "Silver Circle" refers to the number of posts LaFille has made. It's a fairly irrelevant bit of software really -- I didn't realise anyone noticed it!


Also, I took LaFille's reference 120 degree penchée to be in relation to what one of my teachers calls a "six o'clock" penchée (a term often used on Ballet Talk for Dancers as well) -- that is, the extension at as near to 180 degrees as possible -- straight up. And some of the young pre-pro dancers I take class with can do just that! So I took 120 degrees to mean that a penchée is on the way to that flat line.


There's a whole other debate about whether the "six o'clock" penchée is aesthetically pleasing of course. But that's another thread!


I hope you find some good classes, Alerary. I've always found the recommendations here to be very helpful.

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Yeah.. 'cause I was definitely making a light hearted jokey quip that it still not 6'o clock the way it used to be Some days 100... some days 120, never again 180 I'm sure. Don't forget to look at Houston Metropolitan Dance too. I haven't been there myself, but I know they've got a plethora of classes.

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I'd just love for my penchée to be more than 90 degrees -- that is, more than just an arabesque that I tip forwards as I visualise that flat line in my head < sigh >

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Martini glass. Visualize the martini glass, and once your penchée looks like one, reward yourself with a fine martini. I know I do. LOL

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