Sunday, March 21, 2010

Am I Too Old To Dance?

Margot Fonteyn was a prima ballerina into her 50s. Here she is at age 55. Gorgeous.

While I'm waiting for my fab webmaster to post a new video, I thought I'd address this question. When I teach adults, I hear the comment, "I'm too old" a lot. And I admit, I have used it myself from time to time. But in reality, the answer is a resounding, NO! It's never too late to begin dancing and you're never too old to continue. My personal goal is to dance until I'm in my 90s! I want to be that very old woman still doing demi-plies and tendus at the barre alongside the youngsters. And I'll probably only be doing demis - no grande plies! LOL!

The key to lifelong dancing is patience. Be patient when you are injured. Be patient when you are learning something new. Be patient when you approach the barre, the center and jumps. I think the biggest mistake dancers make - regardless of their age - is that they rush in too fast. They don't warm up their muscles properly before they begin their barre. They don't work properly when they jump. They don't take time off to heal themselves after an injury.

1. As you get older, your muscles need more time to warm up. Think of them as frozen rubber bands: they need to thaw out before you stretch them.

2. Dancing properly at the barre - working on alignment, keeping your heels down when you plie - has a major impact on your work in the center. If you don't demi plie properly with your hips lifted up the front, your weight over your toes, and opening from the top of the thighs, you will definitely feel it in the center. You won't maintain your balance for turns and you won't get decent height in your jumps.

3. Injuries happen for a multitude of reasons as you age. Simply walking down the street in the wrong pair of shoes can tweak your ankle or your arch. Now imagine that in dance class. Sometimes things just happen and you can't prevent it. Accept it and move on. Don't blame yourself or your technique (not always!).

4. Injuries take more time to heal. If you don't give yourself time to recover, you will find yourself nursing that injured body part again and again. Rest. Rest. Rest. There is always another day to dance, another class you can take. A few days or a week away is NOT the end of the world.

Remember, the goal is to dance for the rest of your life, not just today. Take care of your body, work properly, pay attention to what is changing within you - and you'll dance forever. With me!

Happy dancing~


Lon said...

Hello - I'm a 49 year-old male and I have signed myself up for a 6 week summer adult beginners course. To say that I'm nervous about it would be an understatement! I'm really hoping that I don't make a complete fool of myself since I have never stepped foot into a dance studio and I really have 2 left feet. I found your videos on YouTube and they helped me to understand what will be going on. If you have any more helpful hints you would like to pass along I could sure use them. Merci, Lon

BalletLA said...

Hi Lon! I'm thrilled to hear you'll be starting a dance class soon. Just signing up can be a big step (no pun intended!). If it's a ballet class, check out some of my older posts here on the blog. In this one, I describe the basics of a ballet class, from barre to center and floor work, as well as class etiquette:

Above all, enjoy yourself - no pressure! The idea is to dance forever, not burn-out, so take your time with the steps and if you have any questions, ask your teacher - or me! I'm happy to help you if I can.

:) Happy dancing, Lon!!

Anonymous said...

I am a recreational dance student, so i don't know too much about who is who and what is what in the dance world. So forgive me, i don't know who is William Arthur Ward. But he has a quote that i think deserving to be mentioned and paired to our inspiring ballet teacher:

"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."

Thank you Legih for inspiring us all to be better or just step outside of our comfort zone!


Anonymous said...

p.s. i guess i am much more ignorant than i am aware...
William Arthur Ward (1921 – 1994), author of Fountains of Faith is one of America's most quoted writers of inspirational maxims.


BalletLA said...

I love that quote about teachers! How wonderful! I didn't recognize it nor do I know who William Ward is either. :) Thank you for sharing it and I appreciate your kind words.


Hans Rosenschwein said...

Hi, I am the 50 year old mother of a serious 16 year old ballet dancer. About a month ago I started taking pilates, for the first time ever, at my daughter's studio, with much support from the teacher and fellow students, young and old. This week I am nervously taking my first ballet class (adult) since I was 16. I found your blog when I was reviewing barre exercises on youtube so I won't make a complete fool of myself. Your videos were a great help and so is your blog. Thanks for the inspiration.

BalletLA said...

Hello Hans Rosenschwein! Thank you so much for checking out the videos and the blog. I'm so glad they're giving you a confidence boost for your upcoming class. I love hearing that your fellow students and teacher are encouraging you. That's the kind of studio atmosphere that everyone needs, no matter what their age or experience level.

Enjoy the class!