I am interested in starting ballet as an adult as well. I am 29(!) and male and am wondering about how much I can really gain yet as far as flexibility and technique is concerned. I am a little insecure about starting, but while I am visiting family in Portland I have read on a few websites that there are ballet/dance schools which offer beginner adult ballet classes. I've done yoga for a bit less than a year and have both of my front splits, but am no where near having a desirable middle split. Are middle splits required for ballet positions at all? Also, I am concerned about developing good turn out. Is it possible to gain good turn out technique at my age or do you have to start when young when your ligaments and tendons are still more pliable? I suppose I have nothing to lose by trying but it's a bit intimidating.
Middle splits are definetly not required for ballet. In fact, most ballet teachers will say the splits are a stretch in themselves, not a position to be gained. (Though in professional ballet uber-flexibility is becoming way more prized so this is a difficult position to really agree with.)
I recommend the board dancers.invisionzone.com (Ballet Talk for Dancers)- they have men's specific communities, as well as adult boards. Lots of fabulous information there.
You can definetly still gain turnout, and if you've been doing yoga and have splits you're probably likely to do well in ballet. You of course will have limitations as your hip structure is set, but to do adult ballet, even performance level adult ballet, you don't need to have turn out like a professional. Dance with what you have!
My dream is to be able to afford time and money to go to Sun King Adult Dance Camps- a summer intensive just for adults!
Originally Posted by Bunny_Hop
Check with the studio to see if they have a dress code. Some studios require the classic black leotard with pink tights. Some have no dress code. But ask them and they can guide you. Just make sure to get properly fitted for decent ballet slippers. The studio I attend has no dress code but for me, I prefer a leotard, pink or tan tights (yes, I often wear my skating tights to ballet class), and a short chiffon wrap skirt. (Although I've been studying ballet since the age of 5, because I've also been skating for most of that time, too, I have developed a thicker bottom end--the notorious "skater's butt" and heavier thighs than a traditional ballet dancer--so I'm a little self-concious in ballet class with all those mirrors so I love my chiffon wrap skirts!)
Just find a dance school that has adult beginner lessons. You will find people of all ages, and many beginners much older than 29. And men, too. You can always benefit from ballet. And do NOT worry about splits. That's not the point. While advanced and professional dancers attain this position in many moves, it's just part of extension. A good ballet class focuses on proper technique, not how high or how wide your legs can go. For example, in one class, someone with super flexibility will be able to perform a grand jete in a split in the air while others' legs are at a 90 degree angle. It doesn't matter as long as your technique is correct. Extension, turnout, and proper body positions are things you develop over time, not something that you have to start ready-made for. That's why it's a beginner class. They will start you off very slowly. There's no need to be intimidated because in a beginner class, everyone's at the same level!
Originally Posted by Lainerb
I always wore athletic leggings or yoga pants and a stretch tank top of some sort. IME, the women who showed up in full out tights, leotard, skirt, etc...were the first to quit.
Both studios I took classes at required shoes but otherwise you could wear whatever you wanted. I recommend something easy to move in. One woman came in jeans all the time and ended up standing there watching. You can't do leg stretches on the barre in jeans or even get into a basic arabesque position. The teacher would gently suggest workout clothes every single week to no avail. There was also an extremely uncoordinated 19 year old with no prior dance experience in one of my classes who took to showing up in pointe shoes. I was shocked that the teachers (a couple rotated) did not put a stop to that. One did remind her that she signed a release that if she was injured they were not responsible. And one woman showed up to the same class to try it out in the street shoes called "ballet flats" because she thought they were really ballet shoes. She couldn't move her foot properly.
While most studios won't say anything if you wear socks, especially when it's your first lesson, be careful about wearing socks. Even on a dance floor they can be slippery. I have socks that I can't wear to jazz class because they're way too slippery. If they have a wooden floor I'd not recommend socks at all because even ballet slippers can be slippery on wood.
Originally Posted by Skittl1321
I'd find out what the Studio recommends in regards to footwear - if you're sure that you will continue with ballet then get shoes beforehand, if not, the cheapest slippers are still around 17 US Dollars, as far as I know.
Also, if you go and get slippers, you're faced with several choices - divided sole, sole over the whole foot, satin, leather, some other fabric... Check what's comfortable but pointing your feet in a slipper that has a divided sole is easier than in one that has a sole going along the length of the foot. Fabric, I find, is easier for that, too. Also, check if the shoe comes with elastics or not. If not, I would recommend getting an elastic and sewing it on. It keeps the slipper from slipping off your feet.
If there's no dress code, wear what you're comfortable in. The only recommendation I have is that it's somehow form-fitting since the instructor will want to see your lines. And even though it might not matter so much in a beginner class, if you have long hair you might want to tie it away from your face and not necessarily in a low pony-tail. A braid would probably work well though, or a bun, even, depending.
Otherwise, have fun because that's the most important part!
About a year and a half ago I decided to quit skating for a number of reasons and on a whim, signed up for adult intro ballet lessons at a local studio. I ordered my very first pair of ballet slippers off of the internet and to my horror, they were too small... and me being cheap and not wanting to shell out for another pair, came up with the idea to cut open the front of the shoe and use the extra strap elastic to fashion a sort of flexible toe patch that I sewed in to give me an extra half inch or so. It worked pretty well and the shoes were still in good shape by the time I moved away!
Happy dancing, everybody. Reading this thread brought back lots of good memories, I wish I still had the time
Often that is indeed the case with the fully-outfitted newbies in any activity, isn't it? I am also amazed that they even let the girl in pointe shoes in the class at all despite the liability release! And the jeans and the ballet flats! You can't make this s**t up.
Originally Posted by PDilemma
This. ^^ Just to reinforce: I wouldn't recommend dancing in socks. Yes, they are slippery and not the best if you are just getting your ballet legs under you. You're going to need stability. Also, ballet slippers have better protection for the ball of your foot--which you will be on A LOT. Some manufacturers--Capezio is one--have many models that come with attached elastics. You may want to investigate shoes like this. Keep in mind that ballet shoe sizing is NOT the same as street shoe sizing. Not even close. Even among the same maker, different models can have a different sizing. I do recommend going to a dance supply store to get fitted because you want them to fit properly, like gloves, really. (Please don't buy your first pair on the web.) They shouldn't be too tight, but they shouldn't be loose anywhere, either. Again, check with the studio for advice and suggestions. You can probably get a decent pair in the $25 range.
Originally Posted by ballettmaus