“learning ballet as an adult is a chance to return to our bodies, to be true beginners again. it’s an escape from work stress, a departure from over-scheduled lives, and a way to build confidence that you, too, can learn a new skill.” (source)
last fall, one of my girlfriends encouraged me to sign up for an adult ballet class. i took dance classes as a child and danced ballet in middle school. i never advanced to pointe shoes, but this remains a (perhaps farfetched) goal.
i enrolled in basic ballet at exit space school of dance, located in green lake. if you live in seattle, and are interested in pursuing dance, i highly recommend exit space! beginner-level students are encouraged to sign up for exit space’s “basic” classes, taught weekly. there is a $25 annual registration fee, and a nine-week course is $95. upon completion, dancers can participate in drop-in classes. classes are affordable, and the instructors are kind, well-educated, and encouraging! their mentality is “anyone can learn to dance; anyone can learn ballet.”
i recall taking dance classes as a child, and the instructors were quite strict—leotards had to be black; skirts or tutus were forbade; hair was to be slicked back; dancers were discouraged from chatting with one another. “i think that ballet has a stigma of being very elitist and not very accepting. [the goal] is to open our doors and make sure that people know we’re interested in anyone who is interested in learning to dance.” (source) this rigidity, experienced by dancers in some ballet studios, is not something i’ve noticed, and i’m entirely grateful.
and now, i’ll share a few reasons i most enjoy this new hobby—
like many of you, i strive to balance a full-time job with other professional responsibilities. (for me, this entails working my day job, babysitting, managing my blog and social media platforms, and supporting freelance clients.) throw in a two+ hour commute, romantic relationship, and desire for a social life—this schedule allows little time for self-care. one of the primary ways i find stress relief is by engaging in physical activity. whether going for a walk or heading to the gym, i find working out (in some capacity) helps alleviate stress.
i currently attend a one-hour weekly class and believe it has helped mitigate my stress levels—dance is fun! i enjoy my teacher and classmates, and the fitness aspect has proven beneficial. i must admit, i’m quite off-balance and not at all in “dance shape,” but our class is lively!
if you’ve had the pleasure of attending a professional ballet performance, you know the dancers are highly skilled (and athletic). they spend hours conditioning and rehearsing each day. while i don’t necessarily aspire to dance in the nutcracker, i enjoy the challenge a ballet workout provides.
in basic ballet, we start at the beginning: what are the five positions? what is a plié? what is a tendu? learning the vocabulary in conjunction with the moves is greatly helpful. the five positions and dance steps are somewhat familiar, but i appreciate the slow, gentle pace of our class. additionally, many of the muscles we use differ from what you may exercise during a traditional workout. and let me tell you, i leave class sore—but it’s a good kind of sore.
learning is a lifelong process. (or it should be.) as an adult, i enjoy being challenged. whether i’m training on a new task at work, reading a stimulating book, or enrolling in an educational program, i believe it’s healthy to enhance my physical and mental capabilities. and absorbing new information helps exercise our brain’s function.
learning a new skill—such as ballet—is healthy for both our body and mind. i’m excited to resume dance classes, and i feel proud of my body for engaging in this new activity. i walked out of my first adult ballet class feeling happy, restored, and accomplished. i recently finished my nine-week course and enrolled in a second session. (i also hope to attend drop-in classes at exit space.)
photos by sarah wolfe photography
did you take dance classes as a child? have you considered signing up as an adult? i greatly enjoyed reading this article, published in the seattle times, on the joy of dance at any age!
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