The other day, I posted about trying out a new teacher in the open-beginner class.
During our stretching, to give her a better idea of how to plan her classes, she asked each of us about our experience. She’s new. She hasn’t had a chance to get to know the really hard core adult students.
The responses were mixed. You had the absolute beginner who was serious about the ballet experience she was pretty much dressed to full dress code. You had a couple of ladies who admitted they had some experience but were really in it for the exercise. Then you had a couple of us who had been dancing for a while and were about the same level.
It made me fully appreciate those who are willing to teach adults, especially beginners. With kids, things are pretty simple. If their mothers didn’t force them into class, their dream is to perform, to make their school’s company and if they truly work hard and are talented enough, to dance professionally.
The same cannot be said for adults. Unless you’re young enough, and uber-gifted, the dream of dancing professionally sailed away before you made it to the dock.
It seems to me there are three types of adult ballet students. They are:
1. I’m in it for fitness: Ballet is just another creative way of exercise. Throw it a little Pilates, a little yoga, and they’re even more happy. Some would prefer to stay at the barre the whole time. There is nothing wrong with being in this camp. Ballet is an amazing form of exercise.
2. I’m in it for the exercise, but I do want to do ballet: You want to dance. You like corrections, and you’ll follow them to a point, but hey come on, you’re an adult, your body has limitations. It’s fun, but hey, you’re not too serious about it, though. And don’t even ask you to perform in front of people. It’s just not happening. You have goals, but you don’t really fret over not being able to do a double-pirouette.
3. I’m in it for the full ballet experience: Don’t cut you any slack. You’re a dancer, an artist who also loves it for the exercise and all the other health benefits, but you want to be treated as seriously as those company kids you may end up in class with. And yes, for some odd reason, you want to perform. You want to be included in company performances. And you beat yourself over the head when you can’t bust a double anything cleanly.
I’ll be honest, when I returned to ballet as an adult, I was content in the No. 2 category. Most of the ladies who were in the original classes with me and I call dear friends remain in that category if they’re still dancing (and some of them sadly are not).
But somewhere along the way, after being dragged kicking and screaming into my first Nutcracker performance, and being motivated by an artistic director who challenged me to do much more than what I was doing, I find myself in group No. 3.
That’s why I appreciate those who would teach adults like me. We’re such an eclectic group.