Lessons of an Adult Beginner Ballerina

I’ve learned a lot of cool ballet steps and what to call them in French. I now know what convertible tights are (and it has nothing to do with topless-ness), I can sew using dental floss, and I can now stretch my butt muscles on purpose! But I’ve also learned a lot of important lessons that transfer to other areas in my life and I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. You must start your journey on the right path. Finding the right teacher is imperative to setting a correct course. You and I deserve to share in a love of ballet with a great teacher, not experience traumas from bad teachers in the name of tradition, being old school, or under any other guise which are all excuses for bad teaching. This is where we get our foundation, make it a solid one and a joyful one.
  2. Bring it. Bring your A-game from day one. Leotard, tights, be on time, be ready to focus and work hard. It is by our choice that we go to ballet class, so let’s make it good. For most of us, this is our only time to “be on stage” so let’s dance!
  3. Start strong, end strong. It’s easy to be distracted by how we look in the mirror at the beginning of class and its easy to start losing energy as we tire toward the end of class. But the best classes are had when we focus on the dancing and keep it going until that very last pliè.
  4. This is a mind-body-spirit experience, use them all, you need them all. Ballet is athletic, cerebral, and artistic; it asks all of you and its worth it!
  5. Be confident in your ability to learn. It’s hard to show confidence when you focus on all the things you don’t know and can’t do, but we can and will learn. Refer back to #1, if you’ve chosen your teacher well, you can also be confident in his/her ability to continue to teach you well. Together you will learn to dance!
  6. Be patient, growth takes time and is accumulative. What you don’t know today, you can know tomorrow… or the day after, or next month. What’s the rush anyway, we have all the time in the world to dance.
  7. Fail forward. Mistakes are part of learning. It’s better to try and be corrected than to never make the effort and never know. In many ways, corrections are better than praise. Praise makes you feel good but a correction helps you grow!
  8. Make friends and build your own ballet community. There is something to learn from everyone. A community creates collective growth. Besides, you’re all there for the love of ballet, maybe you have other things in common too.
  9. Reflect. Take time to think about what you’ve done and what you’ve learned. Find a sweet little cafe, sit in the sun, have a latte, and write in your ballet journal. Not only does it help set what you’ve learned in class in your mind but it’s a great way to extend the ballet class glow and over time, you’ll be able to see how far you’ve come.
  10. Share the joy! Ballet makes you happy, maybe it could make others happy too! Sharing happiness is good for the soul, yours and everyone else’s.

4 thoughts on “Lessons of an Adult Beginner Ballerina

  1. Beautifully stated, I agree with every point you make. One thing age has taught me now that I find myself as an “adult” is that if there is something you want to do, you go and do it! Life is too short to for regrets. If you want to dance, dance!!

  2. Everything you say is true! I learned the same lesson when I got cancer. If you want to do something, do it now. Besides, I found so must pleasure in ballet, I wish I had started it sooner.

    • Cancer is, unfortunately, one of those traumatic events in life that can completely alter your way of perceiving. My father lost his battle to cancer some years ago and his struggle made me view our daily struggle to live, I mean really really live each day as more than just going through the motions of existing. I’m glad that you are still here with us and that you too have found the joy of ballet. I agree with you that I wish that I had discovered it earlier but we have it now so I’m going to be grateful and indulge in it now!

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