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want to start lessons...

Guest Trilby-Christin

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Guest Trilby-Christin

I'm 21 years old, and I've never taken ballet lessons. I've always wanted to, ever since I was a small child. But for various reasons, I never could.


There is a ballet company in my city, and they offer beginner classes for teens and adults, so I know that I do have the option now of taking lessons just for fun, to finally fulfill my dream of taking lessons.


I have two questions: First, has anyone around my age ever started taking lessons for the first time in their life? If so, can you tell me what it's like to start taking lessons as an adult? Second, I am 5'4" and I weigh about 140. I'm definitely not overweight, but I'm not skinny either; I'm just a normal, average size. Does this matter for taking beginner adult lessons for personal enjoyment, or would they tell me I need to lose weight first? (I'm kind of afraid to call and ask that question).


Like I said, I know I can't be a professional dancer or anything, but I really WOULD like to take lessons for my own personal fulfillment. I'm just pretty nervous about the idea.


I would appreciate any advice/feedback. Thank you in advance.

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Welcome, Trilby, to the adult ballet students' forum here at Ballet Talk on Ballet Alert! Online!:)


First, plenty of people become first-time beginners as adults, and many older than you.


Second, the weight won't matter. If the classes are set up for first-time adult beginners, they've seen lots worse. The big hurdle will probably be for you to get used to the idea of seeing yourself in leotard and tights. It's a shock for some people, but always survivable!;)


Enjoy your classes - that's what you're there for. What say, gang? Can you share some of your adult beginner experiences here to bear my stories out? Let's hear them!:D

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I started when I was 31! so you are way earlier than me. I have been taking classes (3-5 per week) for almost a year now. I just got asked to join an amateur company a few days ago:D

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Guest dancerwannabe

I started taking ballet with no prior dance experience whatsoever at 26 about 8 months ago. I have found it to be totally addicting. I am now a certified ballet addict... The only thing that is difficult about walking into a studio for the first time is a. getting over the whole leotard/tights issue as mentioned earlier.. I still am a little paranoid about seeing a rear view of me if I even just tendu derriere. But don't be nervous about going. It can be intimidating but most adults that you take class with are very supportive and fun people.. And no one is looking at you, people are always freaking inside over themselves. Nothing to fret about. Where in Ohio are you? I am originally from Ohio. Alot of cities there have nice adult programs.. I wish I'd started taking in college at OSU in Columbus at Ballet Met. They seem to have a nice program. Anyhoo, Welcome to ballet alert. Don't be afraid. Everything is cool. Just go a couple of times!



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All I can do is encourage you to find a place and start. Now is a good time as most dance schools are gearing up for new classes.


Find a good beginning adult class.


Where are you located in OHIO?


I did dance in Cincinnati and performed there with a small ballet company called Metro Ballet of Cincinnati.

Also 2 Left feet was from cincinnati, so between us we could perhaps recommend a good place to start.










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Go for it Trilby! I started ballet about your age, I'm 24 now and just took an exam last month, and have danced on stage, and done a bit of choreography too!


If your new ballet school has a uniform, that takes the pressure off the question of what to wear and "what do I look like" when you first start as everyone looks exactly the same and you blend right in.


Most of my classes are with teenagers but I have found them all friendly and helpful so don't be intimidated if you have classes with younger people.


Don't be nervous. Ballet classes are very hard work, but also lots of fun. Be sure to tell us how your first class goes!:) (I think I am picking up Americanisms from being here!)

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Go for it, Trilby!


I started in the age of 28 about exactly a year ago, and I don't regret it the least bit...:)


I cannot compare starting as an adult to starting as a child, for obvious reasons ;), but it was a little bit scary, and very exciting, and very, very rewarding.


It was a bit scary in the beginning because I didn't know how to behave at the school, or what to wear, and didn't know anyone from the class. But those things got cleared up pretty soon; I feel at home at the studios now and the people are very nice. I have started to even like seeing myself in a leotard. ;)


It's exciting and rewarding, because as a beginner one tends to make progress fast, and even though some things (like balance, aargh) got frustrating very soon after I started, I also keep on learning new things and getting better hold of the old ones every week. Also, all the other people in the classes are there for the same reason as I am. At least no one there looks down on adults who want to start ballet...:)


Also, I have never before managed to find a form of excercise that I would care to do often enough for it to be any good for me... I don't do ballet for the excercise, but for the art, but it is an added bonus. :P

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Run, don't walk, to sign up for that class! I was exactly in your situation -- a 21-year-old who had always loved ballet but for one reason or another never had the opportunity to study it until then. Now -- omigod, 24 years later!! -- I can't imagine my life without it. In fact, I think i'd be a totally different person, somehow less myself.


I can't even remember my first class, which means it probably was no big disaster -- ie, no one laughed hysterically at how awful I looked in my leotard or how I'm sure I moved left when everyone else moved right. Everyone is focused on their own work, and the teacher's instructions, so there's no need to feel self-conscious. The only thing you really have to worry about is getting totally addicted to taking class. I quit for about 15 years at one point (an injury, then job craziness that continues), but I've been back for about a couple of years and it's been great -- like coming home!

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I started at age 35 and I do remember being very intimidated. I called the teacher a couple of weeks before class started and explained I had no dance background at all, so not to be surprised if I asked silly questions. Then I asked everything .

What to wear, where to buy it, what the general format of the class was like, and at what level were others in the class. He was very friendly and understanding and answered all my questions without making me feel like an idiot. Then, because he knew I was very nervous, I think I got some special attention in class in that he "dumbed down" a lot of stuff for me until I felt more comfortable. All in all, it was a very positive experience in a very supportive atmosphere. Now that I have been at it for a while, I know that no question is a surprise or is stupid for a teacher of adult beginners. They have heard them all! Why don't you give the studio you're considering a call and talk to them about your concerns and questions? They are there to teach you, and the best way to learn is to ask questions.

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All I can say is to repeat what other people have said and ... Go for it!


I started age 19 having never done any dancing at all before and I couldn't even touch my toes! (Despite having been a competitive gymnast less than a decade beforehand.) I bought a pink leotard and pink tights (I felt I had to, having missed out when I was a kid!);) I soon realised I was the only one not in black but I didn't care because I was learning to dance!


It didn't take long for me to gain confidence, and with that everything improved. (And I did conform as far as the leotard went.) I found that in the best adult ballet classes there is a good degree of discipline and everyone works hard because they love it, but on the other hand anything goes as far as age, size, ability, etc goes.



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Hi Trilby,


I started in February this year at age 47. I weighed almost 160, and I am 5ft 6in. I now weigh 143. Totally ballet.


I recommend that you get the book by Joffrey called "Ballet Fit" - I think this is the name. It is a really pleasant read, lets you know what to expect, what it is like.


I also recommend spending the money to get decent shoes - cheap ones aren't worth it. I also recommend getting a black leo and pink tights, or black tights or leggings. You can also use them for other stuff.


I started after a very long time when I had taken it in college, but it had been so long that it really was starting from scratch.


No one except the teacher will be watching you, you will be the only one who cares how you look. They are too busy worrying about themselves. Don't compare yourself with others. It is not a good idea.


Learning ballet takes time and concentration, but is so all consuming that you really get to a point where you get lost in it. You can never get bored or tired, unless you don't work at it. It is gentle on your body in getting back into shape, it is not as hard on your joints as running or aerobics. It is really about balancing in every way you can think of. It relieves stress. It allows you to express your artistry. It is massively frustrating, and hugely rewarding.


Don't get impatient with learning, it is a gradual build up of repetition and work on your part. You start absorbing it, then it absorbs you. Enjoy the process - it is where the real joy is.


Best of luck, and don't wait another minute to start! Get some reading material and start right away!


Good wishes!

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Guest *Lili*

Hi Trilby!


I started ballet classes last year at 22, and I'm so happy I did!! I wish I would have did it earlier! :P So don't even hesitate, and go for it. And I think you're lucky to live in a city with a ballet company and adult beginner classes. I go to classes with 10-13 year old girls, and a few other ladies (34 to 52 years old) who love ballet as much as I do! I take ballet only for my personal enjoyment, but it is still a real passion. :D I just can't wait to get back to classes in september.


Good luck and tell us how it goes :)



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There is ONE extremely important etiquette rule in ballet:

noone is competing against another (and it's extremely rude to laugh at others' mistakes), and you use the mistakes of others to improve your own technique... :cool:

So, every single little silly thing you do is constructive. It will in fact help another person to check if they do this as well (and believe me, NOTHING you will do will be new! They have been millions before you who felt exactly the same way)


If anything, you have to find in you a way to cope with the awkward feeling (that EVERYONE will feel too!) and try and focus on your work, rather than thinking everyone is looking at you (they're not! They think that everyone is looking at THEM!)

I would suggest before class: juul.gif No, only joking... Seriously, just grin and bear it for the first 2 or 3 lessons... After that, whahey! Party time!


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Hi Trilby,

do it!!! You will love it (and if not at least you cand say you gave it a try). I took two semesters of ballet in college and even though I had always wanted to dance, the timing and the classes just didn't work out for me. Then I started again 3 years ago when I was almost 27 - and now I'm in class all the time and have performed in a few recitals and even two concerts that people actually paid to see :eek: :cool:


A few more suggestions:

1) don't be afraid to shop around for the right teacher - some teachers are just better at teaching adult beginners than others. Try a few different people to see whose style works best for you.


2) get an illustrated guide to ballet terms. Even though you won't use many of these things until you get to a higher level, it helps to have descriptions of even the most basic things that you're learning in a beginning ballet class. That way you can review them between class and when the teacher says "tombe, pas de bourrée, glissade...... etc. etc." you'll remember what those things mean and your body will begin to do it automatically (eventually ;) )


3) Eric Franklin has two really good books on dance. The one that I found helpful as a begginer was "Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery" - all kinds of useful information in there about anatomy/kinesiology and great tips for using imagery in class!


Hope that helps!

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Hi, Trilby:


I'm originally from Cincinnati. One of my best memories as a kid was seeing the Cincinnati Ballet perform "Nutcracker." I was hooked immediately. For too many reasons to list here, it was another 22 years before I walked into a studio at the ripe age of 36. Two years later I cannot believe what I missed out on most of my life. That is a mistake I'll never repeat. Now I want to go back to Cincinnati and take a few of their adult classes. Somehow that feels like completion to me.


If you're in Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Ballet offers a good selection of adult classes at different places around the city. Columbus has a thriving dance scene and should have a healthy range of choices as well.


I know one person who didn't even take a single class until he was 21. He was a fast learner and a natural talent. He's now in a professional company. That's a rare thing and easier for guys, but it shows there are still things you could do at least with local companies. Don't rule it out.


The idea of getting an illustrated book is a good one. One I recommend is called "Step by Step Ballet Class" (Royal Academy of Dance). It's written for children so don't be put off, but it's easy to follow, covers all the basics very well and has lots of pictures to illustrate steps. It covers about everything you'd learn in a basic or level 1 class. As you progress, you can get the "Ballet Basics" book by Hammond. Less illustrations and much more detail. I referred to both of these books endlessly during my first year. The bible of dance steps is "Classical Ballet Technique" by Warren. Tons of photos but not always easy to follow. I rarely use this one but it's good to have around.


And about the body image thing. I was mortified walking into that studio my first day. I had a horrible body image. Funny how standing around in tights for hours on end makes you completely forget about that. You lose your self-consciousness very quickly. Mostly because it's obvious real fast that everyone is looking at themselves in the mirror or deeply involved with their steps and how they look. Trust me, the only one in the room paying much attention to you and how you look is the teacher. And they're more concerned with how your steps look than how you look in tights.


Good luck. Get thee to a studio.

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