When you think of participants in a ballet class, do you assume they are slender, sylph-like young ladies, who can float like a feather and bend like they are made of rubber? I know a lot of people have that stereotype in their head, but in my opinion nothing could be further from the truth. Ballet is for anyone who wants to give it a try, regardless of age, body type, gender, or fitness level.
Want proof? Take a look at the participants in our Gentle Ballet class. The students in that class range in age from their late 40s to their late 80s! Many of these men and women have been dancing all their lives, but some never wore ballet slippers ever. Some of those who danced when they were younger, stopped due to family and work commitments. One of my students took 70 years between classes!
So, what’s a Gentle Ballet class like? They are structured like a traditional ballet class with a warm-up at the ballet barre and dance combinations in the center of the room. The big difference is that we simplify the steps, keep our legs lower, and don’t do jumps or turns.
The focus is on improving balance, lengthening the muscles, and improving posture. At the same time the brain gets a workout as we memorize steps and try to move with the music. Corrections are given but the focus is on enjoyment and to feel like a beautiful dancer.
Everyone works at the level that they are comfortable with. There’s no pressure to lift the leg as high as a professional dancer or to force turn out (rotation of the legs at the hips). Those that are not comfortable with movement across the floor, are welcome to perform the movement along the barre. This allows them to use the barre for support if needed.
Participants are free to add in a turn or two if they have the experience and want to push themselves. Everyone works at their own level and abilities in a supportive friendly atmosphere.
If you are still not convinced to give ballet a try, take a look at this video from WNYT news anchor Benita Zahn. She recently visited the studio to tape a Gentle Ballet class and interview some of the participants.
I’m proud that Albany Dance & Fitness offers adult ballet for all levels of experience and I love sharing the joy of dance with all my students.