Have you ever yearned after being a ballet dancer – that is often the case in growing up and mothers often dutifully take their children to ballet classes as I did for my three children until the tummy aches occur before lessons or with competing interests they can’t fit it into their busy schedules.
But there are some children who feel they have missed out Or feel they want to rekindle that yearning and as adults they find a studio to reconnect or even start as a beginner. Moreover, there are significant number of middle – aged adults who decide to join ballet classes and reap the physical and mental benefits of this challenging dance form.
I remember my daughter and friends who dance at any opportunity often attended a well known studio ‘Pineapple’ in Convent Garden. They have classes for a wide variety of different types of dance classes.
- L to R These women are all keen ballet dancers, or use ballet movements to stay fit and active -these ladies are aged 50-68yrs
Subsequently I came across an ex-ballerina from Sadlers Wells Ballet company in an acupuncture class as she wanted to learn to treat common injuries. She was teaching middle – aged pupils at Pineapple and was proud of the fact that she had a pupil of 76yrs!
Isabel McMeekan was principal dance at the Royal Ballet now runs classes for adults including Assoluta class for the over 60’s. This is a unique class specifically created for 60 year olds and over, involving gentle stretching, core work, barre work and centre practice.
Hence, I was not shocked when a professional colleague told me she had just enrolled for regular ballet classes. As we talked I could appreciate the positive health benefits of maintaining flexibility and bone density well into your later years to stall the onset of osteoporosis and could also ward off dementia. That’s as well as improving your figure, looks and confidence, relieving stress — and maybe even helping your love life.
We know that about 9 percent of adults age 65 and older report having problems with balance. Poor balance can be a contributing factor to falling, which can result in broken bones and hospital admissions.
Hence, because it is well recognised that:-
The single most serious threat that older people face is falling
Good balance is essential to being able to control and maintain your body’s position while moving and remaining still. Good balance helps you:
• Walk without staggering
• Arise from chairs without falling
• Climb stairs without tripping
You need good balance to help you stay independent and carry out daily chores and activities. Problems with sense of balance are experienced by many people as they age.
Inevitably practising ballet is going to be invaluable in addressing maintaining good balance.
My story of joining an adult ballet class
I did ballet as a child until about the age of 12 when transitioning to secondary school and puberty meant focussing on other things in life. It wasn’t until 9 years ago, in my late 30s, when I joined an adult ballet class, that my love of ballet was reignited! The combination of dance to classical music is unique to ballet, and though I have tried and have enjoyed many other activities (yoga, ballroom, Zumba and flamenco amongst many other things), ballet is what I have stuck at with a passion for the last 9 years! Certainly the movements and positions we get into remind me of my childhood, and the music makes me feel nostalgic and emotional. Perhaps it is all this emotion combined with the fact that I’ve had a seriously good work out keeps me so addicted to ballet!
Music is an essential part of ballet, and through ballet I have learnt to love the piano again too. I found I was enjoying the music so much at the class, I would go home to bang out the tune immediately on the piano! Memories of my old piano teacher came flooding back…and I have since made contact with her through email. These two pastimes have brought me much joy and satisfaction in recent years, I feel my childhood has returned to me in middle age!
You may feel this is something you thought was too late to start but there is a chance out there and with the added bonus of physical and mental health benefits.