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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Starting again at 51


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Good Morning all!


I'm new to the forum and coming back to ballet after 25 years. I took a few beginner classes 25 years ago and now as I'm getting older and don't really care what other people think, I'm wanting to take classes again. I'm 51, in good shape as I have a physical job and do some outdoor activity(ie:hiking, cycling).


Can anyone give me some advice on a few things to start out?


1- What should I expect of myself and my body when starting over again?

2- How do you find a good teacher and school? I looked in the school forum and did not see a listing for a school in New Hampshire. There are many schools that offer many different types of dance (ie; jazz, tap, ballet, etc). Are these types of schols okay or is it better to seek out a ballet only school?


3- Those of you who started later in life, what was it like and how did the first few classes go?


Thanks for considering these questions and I look forward to your responses.



Edited by Dave62
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Welcome Dave. Nice to have individuals who have a lot of age experience if not dance experience. Let me give you my thoughts about your questions.


1. Expectations. I'm not a fan of expectations of any sort other than obvious kinds of things. I'd try to keep to the present. Make each class you take an end unto itself. Enjoy the learning aspect. My sense is that many people get caught up in their expectations, trying to overachieve, which ultimately leads to disappointment and ultimately leaving class.


2. Finding a school. Mmmmm, I'm not very experienced here. I was lucky in that there was a well known local school that wasn't far away so I started there. Turned out it was an excellent school, and have remained there. Ultimately, teachers matter more than schools. Nothing is better than having good teachers. If I were in your shoes, I'd scout out all the ballet schools within say a 30-45 minute drive from where you live. I'd look for the biggest one and visit. I only say biggest because the largest schools are more likely than smaller schools to have adult or open classes and more teachers. You might also look at the schools listed in Dance Magazine. If they pay to be listed or advertise, they probably are pretty good. No matter where you choose to begin, you'll likely learn the good places, whether large or small. It doesn't hurt to try different schools after your begin. As I said, it's really the teachers that matter.


3. first experiences. Mine were actually funny. I vividly remember at the end of class literally having a headache from trying to remember all the various combinations. I remember always positioning myself in the room so I could see the better dancers so I could do what they did. I remember being a klutz when doing even the simple things. After a few classes I was the only male in class. The good thing was I persisted. I don't think I knew how really bad I was, so I never had the feeling that I was hopeless. Thinking back on it, those were fun days.

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The teacher is more important than the school. Look of one that likes working with adults. Ask up front. It will help with the weeding out process.

I agree with all that Garyecht said. I started at your age and have been taking class for 9 years. Remember you are always trying to better (improve) yourself, not compete with some 14 year old! LOL

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Silver, Gary and Joseph, Thank you for the warm welcome and the advice given. Finding the right teacher is very important, so my quest will begin. I'll try doing a web search for schools in my area. I know I need to keep my expectations low and make small gains each class.


I look forward to further advice and conversation with all of you!



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Welcome Dave62 !,


Hope you find the right school and teacher for you, I found when I first started, got a bit like an addiction, once you start the more you want to do !


Good luck

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Take class, look for good corrections, and ask for them. The will be soreness and occasionally injury, but there will be happiness and joy of exceeding your expectations on occasion.


Welcome back.

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Andrew and MJ,


Thanks for the encouragement! I appreciate it. I do remember the soreness and shin splints from 25 years ago. I will take it a bit more slowly this time. Having a difficult time finding a class close by. Most everything I've found is an hour drive. :yucky: I'll keep looking.



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I started at 36. I happened to just call around to the recreational studios in the area. I found a talented teacher at one studio who loved the idea of having an adult male in her class. The teacher then decided to start her own studio. Having conversed with her regarding classes, I began at her studio. The teacher is definitely more important than the studio or location of the studio. I met another talented teacher on a dance blog site who was starting a local ballet school who invited me to attend some classes. So, you just need call and look around the area.


My biggest advice is when calling around the studios, be sure to take advantage if they offer a free or discounted first class. This will give you an idea of what the teacher is like in class and to try out the studio as well and whether or not you can learn from them.


What to expect? Well, expect to use muscles you never thought you had for one. Just expect to take things slow at first. Your first class, she will probably just cover the basics with you like the positions and not expect too much your first few classes.



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Leopard Dancer,


I appreciate you thoughts. As it turns out I made a few calls yesterday. Called 5 numbers. 1 no longer in service, 3 voicemails left, only got 1 call back from those and they only teach kids.1 studio I called, answered the phone, did not teach ballet, but referred me to a teacher who does. Called her and left a VM. She called back in 5 minutes and we had a nice talk. Sounds like a good opportunity. She doesn't have any beginning adult students right now, but said she would do private lessons at a very fair price. I'm thinking it over. She told me not to "Put my dreams on hold", because you'll never follow through on them. She's right!


Thanks again.

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My story is similar to yours. I got back into ballet when I was 49. 15 years later, I'm still at it and very happy I decided I couldn't live without dance in my life. Advice I'd give:

- Stick with it! You'll feel like you have 2 left feet for awhile, your body will hurt, and you won't remember combinations. All get better as you practice.

- Commit to at least 2 classes a week in order to get better. If you only take one, you'll forget a lot before the next session.

- If you want to hide at the barre so you can follow the person in front of you, go to the middle. If you're at the back of the barre facing right, you'll be the leader when you turn to do left.

- Don't let ballet be your only workout. Keep up with your hiking and other activities as cross training. A ballet class doesn't give you the cardio workout you need.

- After a couple years of consistent classes, save your vacation time and money for a week at Sun King Dance Camp. A week- long intensive will rocket your skill and confidence levels.

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Thank you for your thoughts and feedback. I appreciate the encouragement. In the beginning I will only be able to do 1 class per week due the cost. I really want to do this. I looking at starting at the beginning of the new year, as things are a bit busy for me right now. But, I am going to do it!


Can you practice at home between classes, or is it better to be in class with corrections given on the spot?


Do you feel it has helped you physically and provided a focus for you? That is a couple of the many reasons why I'm looking to go back.


Thanks again for your response.



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Can you practice at home between classes, or is it better to be in class with corrections given on the spot?


Do you feel it has helped you physically and provided a focus for you?




Most teachers don't recommend at-home practice for beginners. Until you are really in touch with the posture and positions of ballet, you could easily practice doing it wrong. You need the corrections the instructor gives.


Ballet training helps coordination, flexibility, balance, strength, and mental acuity, plus being a heck of a lot of fun. Since you don't want to start until the new year, you should have enough time to investigate several schools to find the best adult program in your area.

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Thanks again. I thought at home practice would not be productive at first. Checked out a few schools around me. Only 1 so far teaches adult beginners. All others I might have considered are over an hour drive away.


How do I diplomatically determine if this school is a good fit for me and if the instructors are experienced in ballet, if you know what I mean?


A lot of schools teach many types of dance due to limited students and trying to make a decent living. So is one instructor teaching many styles?



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Hi Dave


I think it is more important if you find the right "school" rather than consider distance (if there is one within reasonable distance), I have a bout a 50 minute drive to mine, but feel worth then extra time takes to get there to get the right instruction etc that suits me

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