How old is too old to start ballet lessons?

November 3, 2015

How old is too old to start ballet lessons?

Believe it or not, it is never too late to begin a study of ballet, and many studios have adult classes that cater to first-time dancers.

How old is too old to start ballet lessons?

Late-blooming professionals

There are many examples of talented professionals that started dancing long after their peers, and there are a surprising number of dancers that continued their careers well into middle-age.

  • Anyone with an interest in dance is familiar with the work of Martha Graham, who began her ballet practice in her late teens, then performed and choreographed for over 70 years.
  •  José Arcadio Limón was inspired to enroll in a well-respected ballet school at the age of 20, and he danced and choreographed until his death at the age of 64.
  • Electrical engineer David Zurak had never even considered ballet until he saw a performance by Peggy Baker. He transitioned from engineering to a new career in dance at the age of 23.

Benefits for older bodies

Outside of the professional world, newcomers register at studios all over the world every day. They represent the entire age spectrum, and they have a variety of reasons for enrolling in classes.

Ballet offers a physical challenge unlike any other, as it works every muscle in the body for greater strength, endurance and tone. Ballet is a workout for the mind as well. The intense challenge of ballet movement requires fixed concentration. Many new dancers comment on their expanded mindfulness and ability to be present in the moment as a result of their lessons. As ballet challenges the body, dancers find their minds also grow stronger. They note an increase in self-awareness, self-motivation and persistence in the face of obstacles.

Getting started

Choosing a studio can be as simple as observing a class or participating in an introductory lesson to determine whether the instructor and the environment are a good fit. Most adults prefer flexible scheduling with more than one class available each week in case of a conflict. Some studios offer an option for drop-in, which requires no commitment, while others enroll students for specific sessions.

Adult classes are usually offered as mixed levels or all levels, because it is unusual to find enough adult students to fill an entire beginner, intermediate, or advanced level. This tends to benefit older students, as they have the opportunity to learn from each other, acting both as learner and mentor.

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