I quit ballet about a decade ago. I’d danced for about 8 years, and loved it with every inch of my being.
Can you learn ballet at 20?
While there are many adult-friendly ballet classes available, ballet is not suitable for late starters. Ballet dancers need dedication to constantly improve their flexibility and joint strength for the dance. You also need to practice often to develop your balance and control.
At 20, I am not as flexible as I once was, my joints not as pliable and my hamstrings are no longer able to overstretch as and when I want them to. Additionally, I’d forgotten how to go on pointe, which was where I’d departed from my ballet career. The balance and control no longer come as naturally to me as they once had, and I felt like I’d lost a big part of my life as the skills I once possessed have escaped me with years of latency.
Of course, this is all part of growing up. We all move on to other things, other interests, and different sports.
In Singapore, ballet is a fundamental part of every girl’s childhood. Most girls branch out from there to commit to other types of dance or stick with gymnastics instead, but those who stay with ballet almost always recall it fondly.
Once you’ve set your goals for ballet, here are a few things that might make your experience easier as you integrate into the sport:
- Ballet is heavily reliant on flexibility and joint strength.
You must stretch before and after classes throughout your learning journey not only to improve your flexibility but to prevent soreness. As adults, we are busy with 9-5 jobs and other responsibilities. Stretching would prevent muscle soreness, which would decrease the likelihood of putting a dent in your day-to-day.
Roll out your joints, especially your ankles. It’s important. You should throw on an extra ten-minute work-out before or after the session, just to warm up your joints. Ballet is incredibly taxing on the joints, and as we get older, joint movement becomes stiffer and less flexible due to thinning cartilage and a decrease in the lubricating fluid inside your joints. Ligaments also tend to shorten and lose flexibility, making joints feel stiff.
- Ballet requires dedication.
You might feel disappointed when you’re first starting, but that’s okay! As a child, your sense of balance is much better as your center of gravity is closer to the ground, but as an adult, all that changes, especially with a lack of practice.
If you’re a little wobbly in the beginning, there are ways to get around it—Youtube has tons of conditioning exercises, which you could do at any time of your day. It’s all about practice, practice, practice. Slip it into your workout routine, or before your ballet class. Keep pushing your limits, but remember to be kind to yourself. It’s a work in progress, and the result is going to be worth the wait.
- Learn how to prep your dance space.
If you’re taking online ballet lessons, you might need to clear up a good amount of room for practice. Avoid any carpeted surfaces, as the resistance of carpets, can cause injuries. If the carpet is unavoidable, there are dance mats available on Amazon that you can purchase for a decent price.
If you’re worried about barre work, you don’t need a barre to practice. You can substitute it with a sturdy chair, shelf, or even your windowsill as long as it’s above hip height. Just make sure whatever you use is well-supported.
Regardless of age, ballet is for everyone. It’s a beautiful performance sport that will expand your horizons and challenge you constantly. Just remember that you’re here to have fun, that you don’t need to have a background in dance to enjoy yourself. Don’t get discouraged just because you’re not nailing every move as quickly as you’d like. Be patient with yourself.
Professional dancers dance eight hours a day every week to perfect their craft. Everybody starts somewhere, and all dancers begin with simple plies at the barre.
Still, if ballet is something you’re still interested in, even without a background, it is possible to pick it up now, as an adult. Ballet is not exclusively for the young!
There are tons of adult ballet classes available to you, you just need the right shoes and attire to attend. However, learning ballet at home, whether through home videos or online classes as a cheaper alternative, is also possible.
Ballet is constantly evolving to become more inclusive, which means that a quick Google search of local adult ballet classes will reap many results.
- For example, adult-friendly classes online are available to beginners on platforms such as STEEZY studio or dance schools.
- There is also a MasterClass of ballet dancing, taught by principal ballet dancer and stage performer Misty Copeland for people interested to learn the range of motion and intricate ballet techniques and skills.
From there on, it becomes a matter of what kind of classes appeal to you. You need to do is decide what you want to get out of these classes, or even embark on private lessons.
- Are you learning ballet to reach your fitness goals? If so, focusing on engaging your muscles through repetition as you train would be more beneficial.
- Another benefit of learning ballet again is that it keeps your brain active, as the constant rehearsal and memorization of the ballet movements can help improve memory.