Have you ever watched a famous ballet performance—The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, or Swan Lake—and wished that you had taken those ballet lessons when you were younger? Whether you’re 22 or 52, don’t let your age stop you from trying something new.
Unsure where to find a beginners’ class? Check online or call your local dance studio. If you really have no idea and you’re in the Toronto area, Canada’s National Ballet School has adult classes you can sign up for.
Ballet is as much an exercise of your mind as it is of your body
Pull up, turn out, keep your shoulders down, point your toes, and remember the exercise. While ballet is a fantastic workout and you will be sweating way before the halfway mark, having all these thoughts run through your head at once also works your brain.
Stretch at least two or more days of the week
You don’t need to become super flexible and you don’t need to achieve full splits, but having some form of flexibility will help you have a full range of motion. Here are three stretching suggestions:
- Hamstrings: Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and lean forward to touch your toes. Hold this for 10 seconds.
- Back: Lay on the floor with your knees bent and your arms out to the side. Let your legs fall to one side and ensure your upper back is still flat on the floor. Hold this for 10 seconds each side.
- Feet/arch: Purchase a flat resistance exercise band. Sit on the floor in the same position as the hamstring exercise, but take the band and place it around the balls of your feet, including the toes. Hold onto the ends of the band and pull it tightly while slowly pointing and flexing your feet. Do this separately with each foot 10 times.
Ask the instructor to clarify and/or slow down
Ballet teachers tend to move fast, so if they explain an exercise too quickly, ask them to explain at a slower pace. Don’t be afraid to ask a question. It’s always best to clarify the feet work first and then move onto arms, so if it is leg work which is difficult, keep your hands on your hips and focus on your lower half.
Don’t let your lack of experience frustrate you
At an older age, there’s the chance our bodies can’t keep up with our minds. If this happens, take a deep breath and try to relax. You will be learning something completely new and even if you have to work on something slower than others, you will improve over time.
Enjoy yourself. If you’re starting ballet for recreational purposes, you don’t need to strive for perfection. Don’t let ballet be a frustrating and unhappy experience. Immerse yourself in the music and focus on nothing else. It’s an intensive workout but also an enjoyable one.
Photography by Henry Mendel
Catherine Belvedere is the Production Manager for the summer issue of On The Danforth. She relaxes by binge watching shows on Netflix while slowly working on her knitting projects, and she has a fierce love of the Oxford comma. You can find her blog here, or follow her on twitter and instagram.