I don’t remember much about it, but there was a time when I went to my very first ballet class. I’m sure I was very young and it was a little scary and intimidating that first time. I was an absolute beginner and had no clue what even First Position was. I’ve stuck to dance for over fifty years now and I can’t imagine what my life would be without dance.
Since I’ve been dancing and teaching continuously since I was a young child, it’s hard for me to imagine what it’s like to start ballet as an adult or to resume ballet classes after a long hiatus.
As a teacher of adult classes, I have many students that have never taken ballet or they are returning to dancing after not doing so since they were children or teenagers. I even have a student who started taking ballet with me a few years ago at age 84!
I recently read Raising the Barre: Big Dreams, False Starts, & My Midlife Quest to Dance The Nutcracker, and it has made me more aware of what many of my students may be dealing with when they step into a studio for the first time or after many years.
The author is award-winning journalist Lauren Kessler, who is a writing professor, a mother of three, and someone who had not danced in over 40 years. The book gave me insight into her quest to dance in the Nutcracker with a professional ballet company
I picked up the book because I thought it was about dance, but ballet was just the backdrop. It did explain the history of ballet and gave behind the scenes look at professional dancers. But the the book mainly explored the author’s quest to venture outside her comfort zone and brought to life the obstacles (work, family, and fear) that got in her way as she pursued her dream.
My goal with Albany Dance & Fitness was to create a welcoming space where dancers of all abilities could feel comfortable. But no matter how welcoming I make the space, many people still need to conquer their fear of attending a class for the first time. Now I have a better understanding of how intimidating it can be to dance in front of other people and to see your reflection in the mirror. Most of our first time students have a positive experience in one of our classes, and most do come back. Unfortunately there are some who make an inquiry about classes, but never try it. I wish I could get them to take the first step.
I do love being able to provide a place for adults to dance, whether it’s your first class or your one hundredth one. All you really need to bring is a love to move and the courage to keep trying.