"Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion." - Martha Graham
Is this the kind of quote that makes you want to sign up to a classical ballet class on the spot?
Have you always dreamed of being a ballerina?
Even if you missed your chance to attend dance classes as child, it’s not too late to start. You can still learn to cut a rug (even though most dance studios are equipped with a hardwood floor).
Learning ballet requires discipline and perseverance, though you probably already knew that.
So grab your pointe shoes! Here’s our advice for finding the perfect ballet lesson.
Can You Start Learning Ballet as an Adult?
If you want to become a professional ballet dancer, you’re probably going to have to start studying the art form at the age of 5 or 6.
If you reach 8 years old, it’s over! At this point, you’ll never achieve the flexibility or gracefulness that the professional dancers have and being a member of the best dance company is probably a bit out of reach.
If you are interested in dance education, ballet is a good place to start since it led to the creation of a lot of other styles of dance.
Have you already heard the common misconceptions that most people use as an excuse to not learn ballet?
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: You can start learning ballet at any age. Of course, we’re talking about learning ballet for fun. This is because learning ballet as a professional is very challenging, requires regular rehearsal, years of study and commitment, musicality, artistry, and impeccable dance technique.
While a lot of people think they’re too old to learn ballet, there are also a lot of men who think it isn’t for them despite their artistic talent. Ballet is not just for little girls. As long as you enjoy it and are willing and interested in the discipline, you can do ballet.
Make sure you’re in good health. Dancing is both an art form and a sport; you have to be fit and healthy as well as have a lot of core strength. Since old injuries may hinder your progress, make sure you make your tutor or teacher aware of them so they can work around them.
Can You Pick Up Dancing after Years of Not Doing It?
Are you still yearning to dance?
If this is the case, remember that you can still go back to ballet after 10 or 20 years of not doing it. Of course, your performances won’t be quite the same as they once were. While memories of ballet are still in your brain, it might be difficult remembering how to do it.
While you might vaguely remember how to do a pas de deux, an entrechat, or a pirouette, you’ll probably have to start from scratch after so much time of not doing it.
You’ll need to take your age into account and remember that your body isn’t the same as it once was.
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You should warm up and stretch in class before you do anything else, especially if you want to avoid injury when using the ballet barre. If you've got previous injuries, you should talk to your dance teacher before beginning ballet lessons and before you do any stretching.
If you don’t feel like you’re making any progress, ask your teacher for advice. They’ll give you some goals to achieve.
Why Start Learning Ballet as an Adult?
There are plenty of reasons why adults are starting to learn ballet:
- Achieving their childhood dream: As Marie, 26, said after a year of ballet classes, “As a child, I dreamt of dancing in a tutu. However, since nobody in my family danced, I was too scared to ask for dance lessons.”
- Breaking the mould: It can be difficult for young boys to ask their parents for dance classes. You might feel self-conscious about being the only boy in a dance class. Once you get to a certain age, you stop caring about all that. If you missed your chance as a child, you can still take adult dance classes near me.
- Gaining flexibility: After a few weeks of classes, you’ll become more flexible and see your muscles becoming firmer as well as reducing the risk of injury.
- Improving your posture and alleviating back pain: Ever seen a dancer slouch in a chair? That’s what I thought! Dancers have great posture and fewer problems with back pain as a result.
- Joining a group without competition: Unlike in professional dance troupes, you’ll find that adult classes are quite relaxed and friendly. When it comes to the clothing you’ll wear, you don’t need to wear a leotard, tights, and a tutu, just some clothes you can move around in and that show off your waist and knees so the dance teacher can make sure you’re doing the moves correctly.
- Improving your memory: Ballet works your brain as much as it does your abs, legs, bum, and arms. You need to work on your grey matter to remember the choreography and every step of your routine. It’s also a good way to combat mental ageing.
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Adult Ballet Classes: Choose a Class on the Basic Techniques
Adults should consider getting a class on the basic ballet techniques. These are often some of the most affordable classes, too. If you want to learn ballet, you need to start with these basics.
It’ll take you a few months to get comfortable with the basics of ballet. After that, you can move onto a real beginner’s class. This is when you’ll start learning some choreography.
These basic classes have quite a technical, almost sporting, focus. This can help you get over any shyness that you might have when learning how to dance. You won’t have to do any complicated choreography, it’s all about breaking down the steps so you can learn them.
You’ll start by learning to move your feet, then your legs, and finally, your arms.
There are three types of student:
- Those who’ve never studied dance
- Those who studied ballet but haven’t for a long time
- Those who’ve practised other styles of dance (modern dance, jazz, or even Oriental dance, Cuban salsa, rumba, hip-hop, or ballroom dancing, etc.)
According to Lorena Lopez of the Institut Sanlowa in Paris, you’ll need around 20 classes before you’ll know whether or not ballet is for you. This is when you’ll start to achieve some of your goals and can move on to perfecting your technique.
Ballet requires patience, discipline, and drive. Don’t give up too soon!
Adult Classes Around the UK
Whether you want an intensive ballet class for adult students, to learn about the absolute basics of dancing, or just express your creativity, there are schools and classes all and drop-ins all over the country.
A lot of these classes are recreational and aren't as strict as they would be at a ballet company in terms of the attire you have to wear. However, you should always check whether or not you need to wear ballet slippers, leotards, or specific clothing since what may be acceptable in one ballet studio may not be in another.
If you’re in the capital, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a ballet school or dance studio. A quick Google search of 'dance classes london' will no doubt bring up the following:
- Pineapple: Between £16 and £32 per month (depending on membership) + class fee.
- Danceworks: Between £8 and £30 per month (depending on membership)
- City Academy: £15 for a taster class.
- Holistic Ballet: £8.
The DanceXchange offers a variety of classes for different levels, ages, and dance styles. You can book lessons in bulk online.
In addition to their ballet classes, the KNT Danceworks in Manchester offers jazz, contemporary dance, and tap classes, too. There are also classes for children. There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced ballet classes as well as the “absolute beginner” class which is an introductory class that focuses on the fundamentals of ballet.
Dance For All in the Scottish capital offers instruction in a variety of different styles for children, teens, and adults. The class schedule includes over 70 different classes.
The Dance Studio Leeds offers a ballet fundamentals class for absolute beginners and a number of other dancing disciplines, too. If you want to participate in one of their classes, make sure you book ahead.
Dance Glasgow offers 6 different types of ballet lessons from an absolute beginners class to classes on ballet repertoire and a class with an emphasis on pointe work.
Rubicon Dance in Cardiff has beginner, intermediate, and advanced ballet classes for adults. The adult dance classes cost as little as £5.50 and last an hour. There are also classes for children.
Private Ballet Tutorials
If you're new to ballet and too shy to attend a group class, why not consider getting private tuition rather than attending a group adult class?
Find a private tutor who teaches adults how to dance. A good tutor will encourage you to overcome any stage fright or fears of performing in front of others. They can also introduce you to the fundamentals of ballet if the classes at your local ballet academy are too advanced for you.
Additionally, students with an advanced or intermediate level can also call upon a trained professional to help them put together some choreography before an audition, effectively hiring a tutor as the artistic director for their performance piece.
Tutorials are useful for students with irregular schedules. If you can make Wednesdays one week but need to have lessons on Thursdays the next, talk to your tutor about it and see if they can be flexible.
- Anyone can learn ballet regardless of their gender or age. Of course, if you want to become a professional dancer or choreographer, it does help to start young.
- If you haven’t danced for a while, you may have to go back to the basics because you’ve probably forgotten a lot and your body will have changed.
- There are a lot of benefits to doing ballet: flexibility, memory, posture, etc. You'll gain a lot of confidence after a few lessons and the physical conditioning and strengthening will improve your physique.
- Get classes on the fundamental techniques before moving onto a beginner’s class. Beginner ballet classes are often for those who are familiar with the basics. Ask your instructor for more information about dance training and whether there's an intensive workshop to help catch you up.
- While most dance schools can be found in the capital, there are plenty of others around the country where you can be taught ballet technique or get ballet training!
If you found this article helpful, why not check out our blog on the history of ballet dancing?