Saturday 1 July 2017

We’re a Bunch of Adult Ballet ‘Super’ Commuters!

Wendy McDermott

If you live in a small town, chances are there are few opportunities to take part in adult ballet classes, let alone dance of any style. It would be my guess that most local dance schools focus their time and attention on dance for school age children and very little beyond that. Needless to say, those of us that have the freedom and facility to do so, travel many miles each week in search of classes to suit our age, level, ability and so on. Granted, an adult class may range in age from 18 to 70 years or more, however, it’s the love of the form that keeps us coming back for more. For some, it’s not just the chance to share a studio with their peers, but it’s a place where friendships are formed, nurtured and held dear. A recent straw poll amongst fellow adult ballet dancers revealed that some of us make a round trip journey of between 18-65 miles for our regular class, travelling up to an hour at a time per single journey.

The lengths we’ll go to for our art doesn’t rest there. Some of us have travelled from the North/Yorkshire to Manchester, Birmingham and London to take part in drop-in classes, one-day workshops to three-day intensives and rehearsals for shows. I think you’ll agree that’s quite a commitment and shows just as much dedication as our younger counterparts (not least by the number of leotards, ballet skirts, leg warmers and other dancewear we ‘need’ to buy – dear friend you know who you are and I’m doing my best to catch up).

It was about this time last year that I started to look for ballet Summer intensives for adults, as I had seen so many advertisements for young people to attend the same, for a week or more. Disheartened by what I thought was very little opportunity for adults to dance beyond their class of 60-90 mins per week, I tweeted a comment expressing my (I guess) frustration at becoming invisible as an adult dancer. This turned out to be one of the best things I did, as, through various new followers and chatting with other dancers (and more thorough research on the internet), discovered many more opportunities to dance than I could have imagined.

If you’re one of those people seeking new adventures in your personal ballet journey then I guarantee that those who’ve taken the plunge will say they wouldn’t miss it if at all possible. I’ve read blogs and had conversations at class where dancers feel that they’re not improving, but I believe (and I’m sure there’ll be some research somewhere to back up the belief) that the more you spread your wings; experience new environments, new teachers, you’ll soon start to notice some improvement in your dance. It might only be small – maybe better coordination of port de bras with the steps, or pick up a dance combination just that little bit quicker. But then return to your regular class and you’ll notice your improvement straight away.

Happy dancing folks!

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