First Class Stories

Every now and then people write to me and share the story of their First Ballet Class.
The Adult Beginner loves that!
It’s so neat to see the first plié through someone else’s eyes, amIright?
How it was different, how it was the same, that whole, “Yes, me too, I felt like that too!” feeling?
So I was thinking it would be neat to have some place where people can share their First Class stories and it might even be fun for people who haven’t had a first class yet to be able to read other people’s stories and be like, “ok, that’s not so scary”, or maybe even be like, “yikes, that is totally scary! But intriguing!”
Some place…
Like maybe a page on a blog?
Hey!
So, hey, wanna play?
If you’d like to tell about your first ballet class ever, or your first class as a returner, or your first class with a new teacher or new style of ballet, or link to your First Class Story on your own blog, I would really love to read it and I bet other people would too.

58 Responses to First Class Stories

  1. And just for fun, here’s the post about my first class with Smirnoff, and my first and last class with Scary Ghost Teacher

  2. Nechama Lilach says:

    I started taking ballet at the beginning of this semester (I am a freshman in college). I walked in and thought, “Oh God, skinny girls. Oh God, they’re stretching. OH GOD NO.” But to my surprise, the heavier girls in the class–who aren’t fat by any normal standards–were much better dancers. Ballet isn’t just about being skinny and delicate; it takes A TON of athleticism.

  3. Dr. Dasha says:

    Thanks, Adult Beginner, for a fun blog full of wit and wisdom. Here’s my first class back after twenty years away story:
    I wore my twenty year old ballet slippers, and thought my feet looked like two sad slices of ham. I also wore a twenty-year-old leotard. Turns out, the eighties look is NOT a going trend in ballet fashion (high cut leg line, slightly shiny material); good thing I had my yoga pants on over the ‘tard, or I would have looked really dumb, especially where I live, in a super religiously conservative community where I, a city person from another planet already feel like a huge freak.
    And yes, it was me (41 years old at the time), and about twelve young women under the age of 25. But hey, at least I wasn’t pregnant with my fifth kid.
    The weird part for me was that even though I knew what all the names of the steps meant, I still could not do them. Fortunately, the teacher, a 25 year old perky ex-cheerleader type, said right up front, “It’s going to come back in about two weeks.” How did she know this? I don’t know. But she was right.
    So, here I am, 43 years old, dancing en pointe again, and happy to get this from one of my work colleague’s 12-year-old daughters (I had to make up a class with the teens one day): “That old lady you work with is pretty good, for a grownup.”
    So keep dancing, that’s what I say. It’s so much more fun now than it ever was when I actually thought I was going to be a ballerina.

  4. laura brown says:

    My first balle class after 30+ years was a year and a half ago… age 43. I don’t know what possessed me to go to an Adult Ballet Class, but there I was staring at my middle age- 20 lb overweight self in the mirror and it was a big wake up call for me. I was not taking good care of my self and embarressed. I regreted leaving dancing behind in school.. have always loved ballet so there I was! After my first class I could barely walk to my car.. my muscles were in shock. I may have changed schools but I rarely missed a week of class since. Recital next Sunday.. hey I am also taking pointe classes now… Living the dream… it’s never too late.

  5. Amber says:

    My first ballet class was a year ago. I won’t count the adult class because it once one hour, once a week, and far too recreational for my tastes. I wasn’t even sore after the first class because I wasn’t doing anything correctly since I wasn’t being shown. But my first one was a private lesson with a teacher two years younger than me at 18 (now 19!), but she’s amazing, so I don’t age discriminate. Now I came in totally naturally flexible, but when she had me due the splits and encouraged me to reach further, I overstretched my tendon/ligament/something because I was totally limping to my car. The next day, I was so sore I fell every time I tried to sit. But eleven months later at 21 I’m practically a Barbie doll with my flexibility, already en pointe, and am taking four hours a week now (two private, two classes at another school), and will be stepping up to nine a week over the summer, then possibly 7-9 hours a week during fall semester. I’m a beginner pointe student taking intermediate technique classes with kids (well, the pointe at private lessons), so don’t feel intimidated about dance class, especially if you can’t find an adult program. I love the kiddies I dance with. Further story here: http://thedancingwriter.blogspot.com/2012/05/preface.html.

    • Elizaabeth says:

      I like that you don’t age discriminate, I also don’t age discriminate because I start dancing pretty late I was 21 and some of my teacher had been younger than me, but they are great, and I have learned a lot from them.

  6. CrescentMelissa says:

    I started taking The Bar Method recently and just became so intrigued with the precise movements and having to be aware of posture and position. I love detail and this has made me so curious about ballet. Sooooo, I am signed up for an Adult Beginners class and am starting June 25th. I am so happy that there are others like me. All of my friends are like “oh here she goes” (recent undertakings were singing, ice skating, running a half marathon, writing, etc etc). I like to mix it up and keep it fresh yo! Life is too short to say maybe another time or I’m not skinny enough or flexible enough etc. I cannot wait to go at it! Love your blog, it is so much fun.

  7. Leigh says:

    My first adult ballet class was TONIGHT. I took ballet for about 5 years as a child (I’m now 30). I emailed the instructor prior to the class and she told me not to be nervous… Yeah right. I was a bundle of nerves tonight. I walk in, introduce myself to a few people and do some stretches, basically just copying what other people are doing…

    Then class starts and OH MY GOD. I don’t remember ballet being so hard! I couldn’t follow anything. I didn’t know what to do with my arms and spent most of the class looking like an idiot. I bailed out after an hour.

    Am I the only one who has felt this intimidated? We didn’t go over positions or anything. It was like okay, time to dance across the room in front of anyone! I’m so frustrated. This couldn’t be the first class. Really, please tell me this wasn’t the very first class. Otherwise, I must accept that ballet is soooo not in my future.

    • Amber says:

      What level were you taking? Was this a beginning adult class or an open one? If you take an open one, you’re more than likely not going to receive any instruction at all. I took an open adult class and was frustrated because I wasn’t learning anything, so I switched to private lessons. Now I’m doing a grade four summer intensive–which is technically the beginning of grade five, above my actual level but I’m not doing too bad keeping up (there are six levels)–while also doing private lessons twice a week for a total of nine hours a week. If you find a real, genuine beginner class or a good class period, it shouldn’t leave you feeling frustrated. Ballet is hard, yes, but it shouldn’t be so hard that you feel like you’re doing something beyond your level. My first class ever did not leave me feeling frustrated. It left me feeling sore, but I wasn’t doing anything insane.

      • Leigh says:

        I have no idea. It was the beginning summer session of an open adult beginner ballet class. I don’t want to just give up! I was expecting to relearn the positions and how to do a plie at the barre. But nooooo…. we had to do chaines and arabesques across the floor in groups of five. Very upsetting :(

        • Amber Forbes says:

          Well, if this was a beginning summer session, and an open class at that, then you can assume the adults doing it are on the cusp of the intermediate level or beginner advanced level. This is how my summer intensives are functioning. The grade four over the summer is a continuation of the grade four that has been going on all year, so we’re being introduced to grade five stuff that will happen starting fall.

          So you can either keep attending this class or you can wait until the fall for the open beginners class, which likely will take you back to the beginning. A lot of the adults in your open beginners class over the summer are probably going to be moving up a level come fall.

          At least, this is what it sounds like to me.

          • Hi Leigh!
            This might not be the class for you, but that doesn’t mean Ballet is not for you.
            Try sending another email to the teacher, explain that the class was above the level you were expecting and ask if she/he can recommend a class or studio that would suit you better.
            You are brave! You went back after years off! High-five to you! Don’t despair!

          • Caitlyn says:

            Even in my wonderful ballet basics class that I now love, we did chaines in my first class. I wouldn’t say I left frustrated, but it was intimidating. I think being ok with looking like an idiot at first is helpful when starting ballet. It gets better!

  8. Heather says:

    I finally started dancing again after a 15 year hiatus after dancing 7+ hours a week as a kid. Yes, of course, there were 16 year olds in my adult class… Anyway, I’m proud of myself for keeping up and generally not looking like a water buffalo. Turns were a little rough (hello spotting?), but I did manage a passable foutte! However, after attending class #2? I managed to tear my gastrocnemius and now shall be sporting a walking boot for six weeks. Not the footwear I was hoping for! So happy to have found your blog! It makes me warm and fuzzy to know that there’s a whole group of adults who dance because they’ve fallen in love with it. :)

  9. Corrinne says:

    I’m going to start my story as an adult beginner off at the age of 28 at a studio called JovoDance run by the talented fabulous Scott Jovovich. I knew I wanted to dance and not just some weekly beginner adult class. I wanted a challenge. I wanted to dance en pointe no matter what it took. I needed a studio that would take me seriously and give me the chance to pursue my dream. Prior studios limited me to classes with older students where the curriculum was already beyond me, other places provided little instruction and allowed for less than ideal technique. Some studios provided ballet classes but you could tell this was not their primary focus. It was a blessing when i finally found JovoDance. I started off in their teen/adult ballet class but made it clear I wanted more. My natural flexibility gave me an advantage that limits some adult beginners but I loved learning, loved finally getting corrections, loved that I was seen as something more than just a source of money. They started me off where there was openings but it became clear that I would have to climb the curriculum to get to where I wanted to be. This meant starting in Ballet I – wearing a lavander leotard and taking class with 2 girls easily 20 years younger than me but I didn’t care and in fact I loved it. When registration opened again I signed up for every class that I was allowed to take, some classes required the instructors permission but I wanted to show that I meant business. I was taking every ballet class I was allowed to take, I was taking modern 1 and modern 2,contemporary and jazz and eventually acro, tap, hip-hop AND pre-pointe/pointe 1. Do what you love. Stick with it. Find a studio that will take you serious it makes such a difference. I’ve since moved and am looking for a new studio I can call “home” again. I’m very excited to be taking ballet, modern, contemporary, pointe, jazz and conditioning in about 2 weeks at this new studio, though JovoDance will always be considered home to me.

  10. Esther says:

    Well I am a very adult beginner, 51 yrs old plus, and have been taken classes for the last 7 months and absolutely love, love it. I did take a semester in college, 30 yrs ago, but never thought of continuing because ??? I wonder. I can’t get enough. I have always been active, and saw an ad in the paper for a begining ballet work out, just thought it was some type of work out routine, and wow is it! I walked out of class so excited, like I had just found something I had lost. I was taking 3 classes a week and was looking forward to a 4th, and going to a very traditional ballet school to learn technique, when I twisted my foot in class on a jump and broke a foot bone, the 5th Metarasal. It just broke my heart to have to stop for 6-8 weeks. I had surgery last friday, 2 screws to bring the bone back together. Looking so forward to being back to class, and a little more careful about placement.

    • Sissel says:

      Dear Esther
      I am also a very adult beginner, to be 51 by the end of March. I have never dreamt of dancing ballet myself, but then suddenly, by coincidence, I’m there! I was looking for a fun dance class that fitted my scedule and when the best choice was ballet, why not try? I’we had four lessons by now, and it’s really fun! I picture myself never stopping, just keeping on dancing into my old age! By the way, my husband loves it too! He very much enjoys the feminine curves I bring into our home, while practicing some moves now and then. Even better, he – and mee too, already can tell that the strengthening of my inner body enhances our common pleasures! (if you know what I mean!).

      I hope your injury by now has healed up just perfect, and that you are enjoying the dancefloor again. All the best to you!

    • Angele Style says:

      I started ballet at the age of 50. Did not even know what hand to place on the barre and wondered why everyone automatically knew what foot to use? From there I stuck with it and for the past 25 years have sustained many injuries and right now have a hip that is very slow to heal. When I am away from the ballet class I feel LOST and have no idea what to pursue because NOTHING COMPARES!!! It is a whole body/mind/spirit exercise even when we are healing our injuries. Take good care.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    hello yesterday I did my first blog it will be mostly about my experience dancing as an adul I am 23 right now you can read it in

    http://elizaand99.blogspot.com/

  12. HN says:

    I’m 24 and starting out as a complete non-experienced beginner. Not only did I attend a ballet class for the first time ever today, but I was filmed for footage to go on the dance studio’s website. Not as dodgy as it sounds, but I’m mentally a bull in a china shop, which would have definitely come across on camera. After all, my body has developed bad habits which have been horrifically honed over the last 24 years! Didn’t help that the other girl had natural grace and strength; her brain and body were in a better marriage than mine. I can’t tendu because of my flat feet – so I keep forming a sickle with my non arches as opposed to elooooongating them. Also, I can’t remember the terminology but we swung our legs from side to side, front to back to “oil” our hip bones – couldn’t do this to save my life! But I enjoy the challenge so much. Making my brain work and think about what my body is doing, but not thinking too much so it hinders my body’s fluidity. Working every muscle and the battle for excellent posture. These are keeping me going.

    Can this flat footed, uncoordinated 24 year old girl make it…your blog is giving me hope!

  13. Marji says:

    Another truly ‘adult’ beginner here! Hadn’t taken class since I was 28, and decided at 55 I was going back (after a few years of weekly pilates). Fortunately we have an excellent choice of schools around here and I went to observe one class of Adult Beginner. Tears of happiness came to my eyes when the waltz step began. Something in classical ballet pulls on my soul to join the dance. So I began to take 2-3 classes each week. Flexibility has been frustratingly slow to return, and my goal is to again be able to do the splits, at least on the floor, if not en l’air in jete LOL! My first goal was to remember the traveling combination long enough to make it across the studio.

    Recently an outstanding teacher returned to our studio to teach again. She is a stickler for detail and correct placement and technique, and safety. Most of us in this class (which meets twice a week for 90 minutes) are quite ‘adult’, but we do have some 20-somethings who are regulars. I have no desire to dance en pointe, (although one of the women in my class still does at 60+), but a yearning to have a passable ‘line’ with artistic and musical expression.

    Your blog is a delight, and I hope you continue to dance through motherhood. But even if you must take a hiatus, you will always have a place at the barre when you return to class. And your heart will sing when you do.

  14. Marji says:

    Oops! meant to say that it will be two years next month since returning to ballet class.

  15. Meg says:

    I just recently moved to a tiny, tiny town and there is only one ballet studio here. I have wanted to start doing ballet for a long, long time and since I now live somewhere with nothing else at all to do, and lots of spare money to do it with, I thought the timing was perfect! :)

    So I started class in September. I am the only adult taking classes at the school. I am in grade 1 (Cecchetti) with a bunch of 8 year-olds. They’re all adorable. Except for one, who jumps up and down with her hand raised every time the teacher asks a question, and who is constantly bragging about how she did a combination just like this at that workshop she went to last summer, etc etc etc. But they all seemed to be just fine with having a random grown-up thrown into the mix, who doesn’t know anything and keeps asking all these questions that they’ve already known the answer to for YEARS.

    In my non-syllabus class, I am with middle schoolers. Who are all going through the phase of being too good for everything, but make me absurdly jealous of how pretty their turns are even while focusing almost entirely on making sure you’re aware that they are suffering terrible ennui.

  16. Shelby says:

    I love your blog! So funny and entertaining! Not sure if this is the right place to post a question, but there’s lots of adult beginners here, so someone must have an answer! I live in a very small town in Montana, after checking out all the dance studios in my area, there is not a single adult beginner ballet class! I’ve been looking on and off for a year now, and no changes. I’m starting to think my only option is to start with the little kids. Has anyone started ballet in the beginner child class? I’m terrified to be the taller than everyone, more inexpirienced than anyone, 21 year old dancing will all the 5 year olds.

    • Meg says:

      Hey Shelby,

      I actually just posted my “beginner story” a couple days ago, about starting with little kids. There’s only the one dance studio in town, and there are no other adults with me. Don’t be terrified, though. The kids honestly don’t care at all. They hardly notice you.

      The plus side to starting with kids, I’ve found, is that a lot of times the instructors will give you a little extra feedback, partially because they know you can handle it and apply it, and partially because I think it’s nice for them to be able to talk to someone who’s not a 5 year-old every once in a while.

      It is stressful at first, coming into class with a bunch of little ones who have been dancing for practically their entire lives, but trust me when I say they have things to work on, too. They may have heard the terms for things before, and they do tend to pick up combinations a little quicker than adults, but they very rarely are able to really truly apply corrections quickly, and with any amount of consistency. You have that going for you! And the kids are just there to have fun. There’s no cattiness, no judgmental eyes. They are 100% uninterested in you. And that’s nice, for an absolute beginner. It really keeps the tone of class light and relaxed.

      I say go for it! And maybe if you start, some other adults will see what you’re doing and realize they could be doing it, too! If you get enough people interested, they may start an adult class for you!

  17. Ryan says:

    Your blog is wonderful. Thanks so much for being so hilarious (and for stocking the blogroll.) I’ve been reading for a few months, and finally took a class last Friday. And then wrote about it for posterity.

    In summary: Melodramatic 23-year-old ex-varsity athlete falls in love with ballet but is frustrated by the casual/recreational level of the class. Wants more.

    http://wunderwear.livejournal.com/2013/01/27/

    (No guarantees that it’ll ever be updated again, but I’ll be around. Yay adult beginners!)

  18. RO says:

    My first class was as follows:

    I was freakin’ nervous.. didn’t know what to wear. “Just wear something comfortable” she said.
    Comfortable? Do I even have comfortable clothing that won’t rip or tear when I lift my leg higher than 25 degrees?
    I decided on wearing a black t-shirt dress thingy, with some leggings. I didn’t remember much from my early years of ballet, only the positions of the legs and arms. I felt like a complete moron, idiot, disabled person, whatever you want to call it. These women were all older than I was but could frappé and battement like crazy!!
    However, I got the hang of it and I knew I was hooked.. Now doing pointework, something I had never expected to do!

    For all you starters and beginners: There is hope!!!!!!

  19. The morning I woke up before taking my first class, I realized I’d forgotten to bring the top and sports bra I meant to wear, so I had to do the class in a camisole with a built-in bra, and some leggings. I felt incredibly naked.

    Then, I took the studio at its word when it said that their “Beginner” classes were for people with no ballet experience, and “Beginner II” was for people who maybe danced as children. I took ballet when I was 5 (I’m 30 now). Okay, so they start barre exercises, and I’m like “Nope, not going to keep up here,” so I raised my hand, asked where the lower-level class was, and slipped out. Real beginner class was already in progress. After realizing I had forgotten everything except first and second positions, I managed barre work.

    Center work was worse. Reverence was the worst. I didn’t know any of the combinations and my body just didn’t move with the timing. But I made it. It’s not good for things to be too easy, right?

    Well, my second class was worlds away. I was familiar with the combinations. I could do some of the center work. I had this. One of the women who was new to the class that day was complaining during break so I whispered “Hey, it’s only my second class; it gets easier” and she seemed comforted.

    It’s been only 2 months of going about twice a week, and I feel much better. I even did a Beginner II class a couple weeks ago and mostly kept up!

  20. Pingback: Adult Ballet rantings

  21. Maria says:

    Hey, I love your blog and love this section with the First Class stories, it’s so encouraging to read the experiences of other adult beginners. So…here is MY First Class story, which was this morning:
    I’m 27 years old and an did not put a foot on a barre since I was 8. After an injury on my right foot I had to quit ballet so I started dancing jazz and did so on a very high level until the age of 17. Then I quit the whole dancing for 10 years due to several (very sad an personal) reasons. During this period I missed dancing a lot but had no courage to join a dance class and I think I would have never enrolled for a dance class myself but my boyfriend knew how I missed dancing and enrolled me on an adult beginner class and told me on my 27th birthday. And I have to say I was shocked and happy at the same time. I was so afraid of falling or not being able to follow the steps and….well….I did not fall but had problems in following the steps. The teacher did not give much instructions and I felt like a complete idiot. I was so sad but then I noticed that some of the students were dancing en pointe….what was strange since I was in a beginner class. But after the class I asked the teacher if this was really a beginner class and she told me, though this was a beginner class, they offer a pre-beginner class (it’s called “Ballet First Steps”) which is for the “real” beginners. So next week I’m going to joing the pre-beginner class and hope I won’t feel like a moron again. My dream is to dance en pointe….some day…but for the moment I just pray to survive the next dance lesson in dignity!

    • What a great present from your boyfriend! Welcome back to the world of ballet. The first classes can always be a bit of an adjustment because of feeling like we have more hands and feet than we’re born with and then translating it all into French movements. You’ll get more comfortable before you know it. Keep up that dream of going en pointe! Many adult beginners have achieved that dream and it’s one I am striving for myself. Good luck in your future classes!

  22. Claire says:

    I had my first class tonight. I’m 18, so I’m (thankfully) on the fringe of teen/adult beginner. I wanted to take ballet class since I was two. I’ve been working part time for a little over a year, and realized that I could take classes. The only class less then twenty minutes away that I qualify for is a teen class. I meet the owner when I signed up and she said that they’d kick me out when I turn 19, because they like to focus on younger students, which I accept. I read your blog and was acquainted with the French terms and had a general sense of what they meant, so hearing tendu and battement didn’t scare me too badly. The class was combined with an intermediate dance class. In total there were six of us (three for each class). I was probably the oldest(one looked like she was at least my age in the other group), and I was paired with an 11 and 16 year old. I have been trying on my shoes in front of the mirror for about a month and tried to do what I thought the steps were and attempted to point my toes. Class went great. I’m not amazing and the instructor had me watch the intermediate group do a couple of more complicated exercises, so I could get a feel for it, but it just felt really great to do it. The hardest part was when we were doing jumps and I couldn’t tell my feet which way to go. They have a mind of their own. I felt ridiculous and embraced it. :)

    • Congratulations on your first ballet class! That’s great! Don’t fret too much about how and where your feet are going, it will come along. The important thing is to enjoy yourself, work hard, and the rest will fall into place. :)

  23. Rish! says:

    Your blog is equal parts hilarious and inspirational! I’m 22 and have wanted to take up ballet since i was little, my mum was a professional cabaret dancer and always told me i was too tall/fat/old/etc to even try a class, started when i was say 10 or 11. i think now im living on my own im going to take one just for funsies, ill be sure to report back with my first timer tales! :)

  24. Briana says:

    Hello Adult Beginner,

    I’ve always wanted to take ballet but never had the opportunity as a child, teen, or young adult. Then last year I enrolled my 5yo in her first ballet class and the yearning grew again. I looked up every adult ballet class in my area and found one that started after I got off of work. So last night (9/9/13) at 6:00pm I stepped into a ballet class for the VERY FIRST time in my entire life. Oh wait, did I mention that I am 33 years old? No? Oh wait, did I mention that I am 5’7 and weigh 290lbs? I was scared and nervous, and simply doing a plie made me realize how INFLEXIBLE I really am. But the class was thrilling!! Don’t get me wrong I won’t be dancing in Swan Lake ANYTIME soon (if ever, lol) but simply learning how I “should” do the positions at the barre, tendu, plie, demi plie, passe, grand battement, and releve (which my body hates) was an absolute dream come true! It’s absolutely everything I thought it would be, and so much harder than I thought it would be…I’m hooked! I actually posted a pretty badass picture of my leg on the barre on Instagram if you wanna check it out. :) @briboo777

  25. Yasmine says:

    Your blog is awesome, so glad that I found it! My first day is on my blog (latest post) and it was awesome. We learned a lot of things at once and didn’t really go trough the positions but it wasn’t really that big of an issue because I already knew them. I guess the only thing that kind of bothered me was that she said “obviously you guys won’t make it as a professional ballerina anymore” which is true but at the same time it kind of felt like these classes were just work out classes to teach everything what there is in ballet and that’s it. I don’t want to be a professional ballerina but I do want to take ballet seriously and I hope this teacher does that! Will keep you updated! There is also no clothing rule, I didn’t even wore proper ballet shoes just socks lol!

  26. See a first class story from a male adult beginner here.

  27. Lucy says:

    Hi, just wanted to say thanks for starting this page. Reading everyone’s stories helped me pluck up the courage to go to a class for the first time! So here’s what happened. I was feeling so scared I felt sick but somehow I managed to make myself go into the studio. When I got into the class the teacher said that she wasn’t going to lie and that it was going to be really hard to start with. I was super nervous but once we got going I absolutely loved it! I mean, I was pretty terrible but I had so much fun and an hour and a half flew by. My teacher was really nice and when I got a bit flustered she got a few other people in the class to tell me how they felt at their first class (the same as I was feeling) which made me feel much better. She also promised that it would never be this hard again. I’m just off to my second class now so we;ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed it’ll be slightly easier this time.

  28. nicola lynde says:

    After a twelve year break from dance, I set myself the goal to dance en pointe before my 30th birthday. I won’t go into excruciating detail, but my first class ended with me apologizing to the teacher for my two left feet. A year later I am dancing twice a week en pointe and still drop in to that same beginner class, but haven’t had to apologize since. The first class is always the worst and it only gets better and better! Thanks Adult Beginner for giving all of us a forum to share and learn.

  29. Bibi says:

    I did my first ballet class today, at the age of 45. Zumba is the closest I’ve ever been to any dance class. I will admit that I have figure skated on & off through my life, but I’ve never had any ballet. Not even “off ice” ballet. Coaches/coreographers throw in the arm movements at the end of learning a skating program. Fat arms, skinny arms, relaxed hands, follow your hand at this point, blah, blah, BUT LAND YOUR JUMPS FULLY ROTATED first.

    I was the heaviest person at the dance studio. I admit that I am 10 pounds overweight. I have loads of leg muscles, long arms, but a chunky midsection due to big babies carried full term and those office lunches. Plus, I am not used to looking at mirrors. Skaters are usually discouraged from looking at their reflection in the plexy glass. The good news is that I got to hide myself behind the bar for the first 20 minutes. I noticed my love handles. The others in the class were adult ballet people. They had the ballet body.

    Once the class started, I went into ballet mode. I just concentrated on each thing the instructor did. It was alot like thinking through a skating program. I think I did good at the bar. We then went to the floor, and did bar exercises without the bar. This was hard. I almost fell forward on the grand plie. I got my balance back. Then, we went to diagonal movements with leaps and turns (jumps and spins) at the end. Jumping in ballet is actually harder then on ice. With ice, we have speed and a toe pick to catapult. In ballet, it’s all on your own volition. Turns felt a little different too. More over the grounded leg, as opposed to leaning slightly over an edge (outside or inside lean). Stopping the turn in 5th position was super wierd. You are stopping on your center axis, as opposed to stepping out of it on a backwards edge. Staying over the center axis is harder.

    I wasn’t winded, nothing like a skating program which is like a 2 minute sprint. But, I sweated alot. I was not sore after, but feel the small of my back tightening up right now. So, tomorrow may show a different story.

    Overally, I greatly enjoyed it and am looking forward to going back next week. The teacher was very nice. Wish I could do Thursday’s class, but can’t this week.

    My reason for doing ballet is to get more beautiful free leg extension and much better spirals, and lighter hands/arms. I am now an older skater, but I want to be a more beautiful skater in even the simplest moves.

  30. ladywithasong says:

    Yesterday, at 42, I did my first ‘adult’ ballet class after being away from it for 25+ years. I never liked ballet and was not well trained by any means, but as a child/teen I did do it for years (along with tap, jazz, baton twirling, etc). My first love has always been music and my performance experience is largely musical (singing) and musical theatre. But, rather than music, I chose to go back to dance (b/c I reaaaaaaly need to be more active) and ballet seemed like the slowest moving easiest option for me.

    I live in a major city, so it was not hard to find a studio within walking distance. I actually had tapped there 10 years earlier before I had my first child and loved it. But, ballet intimidates me. I am about as flexible as a tree trunk and holy crap what if they make me jump or turn?! And, what if I’m the *oldest* one there? or the crappiest dancer ? Ballet dancers are leggy, graceful, romantic looking wonders. What the hell was I doing?!

    I am happy to report that not only was I not the oldest, I was also not crappy across the board. I was definitely crappy with my jumps, though. However, I did do some things well. As others have pointed out, its not about being skinny, skilled, young and pretty. Of course there were beautiful, very young, ladies with outstanding form and grace. But I also saw some heavier and/or older women with fantastic technique. My teacher was amazing and supportive (and I gather she is roughly my age or older). She made a point to introduce herself to all of the newbies and told us upfront not to panic, focus on legs and feet and not to worry if others are more advanced… “it just gives you one more person to watch/follow, which is a good thing.” She was so right.

    I loved it ! I felt strong (and sexy !) and for the first time in a decade I managed to immerse myself in something other than work or family. That’s quite a feat.

    The class is a drop in class which works perfectly for my over scheduled busy working mom life. I am sore today, but I look forward to getting stronger and more flexible.

    Thanks for this blog and giving people an opportunity to share their ‘first time’ !

  31. Michael says:

    My first “actual” ballet class came around the age of 18 or 19 (though there IS a bit of a story to when I actually started ballet!!) when I had my own car and could go to class in secret. I remember showing up in my first “real” ballet tights and slippers and just totally enjoying performing the relaxing, graceful and VERY difficult movements. It really is such a pretty environment to be a part of!!!

  32. Ballet Duck says:

    So I started ballet at the not-so-tender age of 25 earlier this month and your blog has inspired me to keep my own blog of my progress. My first class was great, the teacher is a very nice Russian lady who uses all the french terminology so there’s a bit of learning in understanding what you’re being asked to do. I’ve had three classes so far and I’m loving it. I can’t wait until I get to the point where she says I’m good enough to go and buy a leotard and tights XD
    I wrote all about my first class in more detail here: http://balletduck.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/very-little-movement-turned-me-into-a-hot-mess/

  33. Romie says:

    Febuary 3rd was my first ballet class after I’ve waited too long, way too long to come back to my passion. My last ballet class before that was 17 years ago when I was 12…

    I did not forget the positions but my body seems to have forgotten the amount of strength and flexibility needed to do a grand battement. It was priceless to be back at my old dance school and find some of the same teachers. I was in a class with girls that were 13-15 years old and were advanced beginners. Therefore I found myself doing things I hadn’t learned before. When they did splits, I just stood there and said “Oh No, this is not for me”
    It was a 1 hr class and in the end I felt I wouldn’t be able to last 5 minutes more without looking completely OLD.

    The teacher told me she would not push me for now and just see how I progress in getting back into the Ballet basics (suck in that belly and do the tight but, head up, no bending knees in tendu etc) I know that I know all these things in the back of my head, I just need to bring it out.

    I have quite flat feet and poor flexibility in the ankles so I don’t know if or when I’ll ever get on the dream pointes (Do we like toe pain?? lol) but I try no to set my expectations too high.

    I am taking 2 classes a week. One with 2 other adults (they are both older, absolute beginners but one has perrrrfect feet :-( ) where we have more focus on the basics and do everything slower, get corrections from the teacher etc. Another one with the young girls where I learn more things and am challenged by their level.

  34. Angele Style says:

    I am going back to the barre after taking 6 months off for a hip and rib injury. I study with a professional dance company studio where most everyone in class is young and auditioning to perform all over the country. It takes all the confidence I can muster on a regular basis to take class and now after being out of commission for 6 months I feel like a new beginner. It is as hard mentally as physically to go back after that much time off but when one loves to dance there is no other form of exercise.

  35. natalie says:

    I just started ballet at age 30 6 weeks ago. I believe I got to around grade 2 as a kid but also felt very chubby, clumsy and unconfident so asked to give it up. I wished I hadn’t as I got older, would have been so much more worthwhile than slaving over a piano. Anyways…
    I had been meaning to try a local class I knew of for ages but never been brave enough, I don’t know what made this year the time. I think because I had joined a recreational roller derby league and gave up when they started contact (scary) but didn’t want to give up exercise. Ballet seemed hardcore, fun, but not likely to cause broken bones.
    Anyway I emailed to check I wouldn’t get laughed out of the place… I am not overweight at all but have had two kids and am not especially bendy. I am also very, very clumsy and not at all sporty. It took more guts to try this than to try roller derby. Luckily our teacher is absolutely amazing. The folk in the class are nice too, but mostly not very chatty. Some of them are clearly experienced dancers who have slowed down a bit. Although listed as a beginner class, it is kept at the pace we can keep up with, which currently seems to be around grade 4/5. Which I find very hard. When new people join she goes slower to teach the basics, but there isn’t any concession to beginners apart from that. I think she likes to push us and keep it interesting. I’ve only been going 6 weeks but love it so much, especially the barre exercises. I can forget all about home worries and study stress for the hour I am there. Our teacher never corrects, but has a funny way of emphasising what should be done in a way which shows you what ought not to be done. I recently bought some pink tights, which I wear with little black shorts like some of the others and feel very ballet-ish. We range from 18-45ish, which is nice. I feel like I keep up fine with everything except pirouettes and remembering new combinations, but I just keep at the back and do my best and its all good. Last week I landed a pirouette and was quietly like YES. Sometimes I am impressed by my rediscovered flexibility, other times gutted by my not so delicate gut. One time one of the women who takes it very (dare I say too??) seriously snorted at my beginner attempts at pose turns. I could have crumpled a little inside, but I thought hey, I’m basically keeping up with your class, you’re not all that. I notice her extensions really aint no better than mine. And I’d love to see her try roller derby training. But of course I didnt dwell on that for long (just a few seconds every time I see her) because I am too busy pushing myself and enjoying it. Awesome blog thanks for the inspiration :)

    • ms.spectator says:

      Oh love! Ignore those snorts! Terrible ballet class manners on her part. Your attitude (as in mind set, ha) is so right. Extremely impressed you’re tackling pirouettes after only a matter of weeks.

  36. bookofballet says:

    Hey just had my first ever ballet class this week at age 25! I loved it! The class was super beginner level (every step was explained in detail), not scary at all, everyone was very nice. Sad to see some here had much harsher intros to the ballet world… I hope you all stick with it, I know I will!

    Thanks, Adult Beginner, for being such an inspiration to me and many others. I don’t think I would have tried ballet at all if not for reading your blog obsessively over the last few weeks. I’ve started my own blog, where I posted a longer description of my first class here: http://bookofballet.wordpress.com/

    I hope my story will inspire others to give ballet a try!

  37. ms.spectator says:

    Keeping the Blog Love rolling around the world, I’ve written about my first pointe class…! Although I would absolutely love some input from the kind souls over here at AB. http://entrechatblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/adventures-en-pointe/

  38. Mercedes says:

    I remember seeing ballerinas at the age of four and being struck by their beauty and the classical technique. However I never got the opportunity to try ballet as a child and I grew up to become a professional burlesque dancer. I finally got the courage and self-esteem at 25 to try a couple of classes but couldn’t afford proper lessons so I had to quit. It was fun but daunting. I was surrounded by strangers and I didn’t know anything about school ettiquette; I think I removed my shoes and sweats in the studio instead of knowing to change out beforehand in the bathroom. How embarrassing! I then took up figure skating and hunter-jumpers to fill the ballet void but I didn’t progress very far at either sport and my heart (and any possible talent I had) was always in dancing. Not to mention that horses, trainers and figure skates were crazy expensive! So at 29 I’m ready to seriously start back, go to weekly lessons and MAYBE one day go en pointe. It will be hard to be dedicated as I travel monthly but I have already started looking at schools in various cities and countries.
    I have found such comfort and many laughs from your blog! Thank you for the inspiration and good luck to my fellow dancers. It’s never too late to try and I hope every little girl out there that grows up without the resources to begin ballet realises that they can still one day begin dancing- even later in life.

  39. New to ballet says:

    I had my first ballet class today and I´m super excited!! I´m 32, overweight after having a child, also gave up all forms of exercise after said child arrived, and my back is very stiff because I have scoliosis. So, not a very promising start, right? But I figured, nowhere to go but up, and if I sit on my ass waiting to become thin, strong and flexible before going to ballet class, it´s never gonna happen. So chin up, belly in, and in through the studio door!
    Previously I had googled what is a correct ballet attire and also asked the teacher. She said whatever you like but preferably something form-fitting. Now I´m a sucker for gearing up, so I went to a local dance store and bought pink tights, black leotard and a black chiffon skirt plus soft pink ballet slippers (Bloch canvas split sole, so pretty!) Don´t like my reflection in the mirror one bit, but figured the sooner I get used to it, the better. And I really want to learn proper technique, so no good hiding myself in baggy clothes! Plus overweight is overweight whatever you´re wearing…
    So in I went, and there´s about ten other women present – no men – and they´re ALL thin, fit-looking and twenty-something. I was like OMG this can´t be true should I go and hide!?! I felt soooo out-of-place. Then, thank God, two obese twenty-something girls walked in, and one thin thirty-something woman. Phew! Was saved from being the oldest AND the fattest one in class. One other woman had leotard, tights, and shorts but almost everyone else had t-shirts and leggings.
    Then the teacher comes, a lovely young (25ish) woman, very elegant and energetic. She had us facing the barre with both hands on it and we started with the basic positions of feet and arms. Then pliés, grande pliés, tendues, and balance in releve in first, second and third positions. Then she asked us to come to the center and form lines, and we did the same exercise there. Then some ronde de jambes, waltz steps on the spot and along the diagonal. Then we just galloped (the term our teacher used) along the diagonal, and also tried grande jetes (Gulp!). That was horrible, I started with the correct foot in front but everything else was just total destruction. Luckily the teacher said that she just wanted a general look at how we jumped, we weren´t meant to get it right. Then some echappes and finished with reverence.
    It was FUN! Difficult but fun. It was awesome to be able to just concentrate on the movement and not think about anything else. Good exercise also, especially for someone like me who has no strength or endurance to speak of. And funnily enough, I didn´t hate seeing myself in the mirror as much as I thought I would. And many of those skinny girls were actually pretty awkward, they were probably aerobic-types by the look of them. I didn´t have to feel ashamed, my moves were at least as elegant as theirs even though I´m overweight.
    Can´t wait till next week! I only have time for one lesson a week because reasons, if I can I´ll try to practise a bit at home. Loving it!

  40. Old Faun says:

    I took my first class a year ago now – best idea I ever had. I had no dance background besides getting temporary blackouts when I was in a disco trying everything possible. And the aerobic warmup in gymnastic fitness lessons.

    I was very nervous, but I had emailed with the teacher before: no teens in the class, and even a womand older than me (46).
    The first thought there was: Hey, this is almost as in movies, with barree and piano music (from CD nowadays of cause). I got a few corrections (she gives only a few to every student, the most important ones) and got white knuckles clinging to the barre :).

    Now I am taking 2-3 hours a week, and taking conpemporary, too. We have a teacher here in town who gives somtimes weekend insentives, and she was a few years dancing in the company of Pina Bausch.

    Oh yeah, and still the only man in class – only at the weekend insentives there are a few others somtimes, too. In the meantime it doesn’t matter when there is a “please more effort, girls” or when everyone moves like a wood cutter at the adagio (because of brain overload remembering steps) “Imagine you wear a wonderful tutu”.

    Sorry if there are a few wrong words, I’m from and in Germany.

  41. Amy N. says:

    My first intro to beginning adult ballet class is tonight. I have never taken ballet, and I just turned 43, so I thought public humiliation would be an excellent belated gift for myself. I am training for my first half marathon, and I thought that ballet would help build long muscles and improve ankle strength. This is not the full reason I am taking ballet (what woman does not want to be lithe and graceful), but it comes out rapid fire when I tell my friends I signed up and get the “are you stark raving mad?” look.

    I bought full sole ballet slippers and convertible tights for the class, but figured I could wear booty shorts and a fitted short-sleeve tee for class. I am approximately 30 lbs. overweight due to sloth and overindulge :), so I am not looking forward to seeing my full-length reflection surrounded by strangers.

    Anyway, I have enjoyed following your journey…we’ll see how mine begins. Cheers!

  42. Sharon Saulnier says:

    I took my first class on Monday…..I will be 55!???!!! in a month and I have always wanted to take ballet. My 10 year old daughter’s ballet school is incredible, strict Vagonova. She has just started pointe. Of course, it was very challenging even though I run and lift weights and am in very good shape. I left in tears!! I have the hands and feet of a Calabrian peasant, thanks to my dad. I am having trouble with arms and hands but today I did a little better. Very emotional for some reason, but I am beyond excited to be able to take classes! This blog is incredible and I am thrilled to have found it!!

  43. Barbara says:

    I started at age 50 with no clue what hand went on the barre and what foot to use. I am now 74 and going strong!!! Absolutely nothing takes the place of ballet class. I have had many injuries over the years and my last one took 8 months to heal but now I am back taking 5 classes a week. It is a total commitment but if you stick with it no matter what I think you will find it most rewarding of all exercises.

  44. QMichelle says:

    My first ballet class was in 2010 and I was 37. It was an Adult Absolute Beginners class at Scottish Ballet, taught by a young dancer in the company.

    I had never danced a single day in my life and had no idea what to expect. I pitched up in an Iron Maiden t-shirt and sweatpants. Tres chic.

    The class covered the basics, such as what a plie is, but I found her combinations hard to follow. The teacher thought I was awful at it and left me alone, giving me no corrections. But I stuck at it. It’s now 4 years down the line and I do 4 classes a week, including an hour long pointe class. I do a graded class and will soon be sitting my grade 5 exam. I got Honours in my last exam and I am aiming for the same this time. I stuck in at it because I was determined to prove my teacher wrong. In the first class, she told us we would “Never be en pointe. Never never never!” I had her for a semester before another teacher took over and I never saw her again.

    Earlier this year our usual pointe teacher was off touring with company, so we had a replacement teacher. Imagine my horror when I discovered it was my first ballet teacher….teaching me pointe! I hoped she wouldn’t remember me, since I felt almost guilty that her first impression of me was of me being so terrible at ballet and now I was doing pointe, after her telling me I wouldn’t. But, of course, she remembered me! She was shocked, but pleased, to see I’d actually turned into a decent ballet dancer and was actually very good at pointe. It turned out, that was one of the best pointe classes I’d ever had.

    I also got my front splits at the grand old age of 39.

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