Starting ballet as an adult….Is that even possible??
The answer is a resounding YES! My name is Ashley Bulinski and I’m the tumbling instructor here at Artisan. I love teaching the kiddos how to do tricks and flips but two years ago I started here first and foremost as adult beginner ballet student.
If you’re considering starting ballet as an adult I’m sure you have many of the same reservations I did. Would I even be able to keep up with the easiest class? Even though it says “adult” will I be the oldest, most out of shape person? And what on earth does an adult beginner wear?! Well first, take a deep breath. My personal experience here at Artisan has been nothing but positive.
Just a little background about me; I did competitive gymnastics, cheerleading and soccer as a kid. After graduating from college I was looking for something to stay in shape that wasn’t running or yoga. After a lot of frustrating google searches, at the recommendation of a friend I decided to try Artisan’s Adult Drop In program. I started out by taking the beginner ballet class once a week as my schedule allowed. The instructor and owner Jessica is always quick to laugh and joke and keeps the atmosphere light. I was beyond surprised when I looked around the class and saw being in my early twenties I was one of the youngest people! My fellow dancers range from 20-70’s. They are of varying professions, body types and physical ability. My 1st class was challenging but yet completely doable. Although any new art form is challenging to learn something about ballet hooked me that day. I loved using my body to make what I consider moving art.
After spending about 4 months in beginner classes Artisan posted looking for adult dancers of all levels of experience to join and perform with their brand new ballet company. When I saw the post I immediately emailed Jessica with my interest. I knew I loved ballet already and was beyond excited to learn more and perform. The company turned out to be fantastic! Over the past year we did variations from Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Coppélia, a full length Don Quixote and more. Through the weekly rehearsals and attending class regularly I moved up to the intermediate classes and even started learning pointe work. I formed friendships with many women and men in my classes and have since traveled to take class at the Cincinnati Ballet, de la Arts Place, and Contemporary Dance Theater. I have seen ballets from Columbus’s own Ballet Met, The Bolshoi, NYCB principals Ashley Bouder and Amar Ramasar, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan and more.
Its amazing to think just 2 years ago I had never considered taking a ballet class. I fell for the common misconception that you have to start ballet at age 3 or you’ll be behind. Getting over the fear of the unknown allowed me to find a new passion, a community of wonderful people and a fantastic way to keep my body and mind in shape. I urge you to do the same for yourself. Artisan’s program is a rare gem in the dance world. It allows adult dancers of diverse backgrounds to come together on weekly basis and do what we all love: Dance.
Adult Beginner Ballet Survival Guide–
Attire: As far as what to wear to your 1st ballet class its very much whatever you are comfortable in. Many of us at Artisan wear a leotard, tights, a chiffon wrap skirt and leg warmers. That being said, people also wear tight fitting athletic clothing if that’s more comfortable for them! As long as you can move and have a pair of ballet slippers you are set!
Class selection: There are many options for this. Do you know what 1st-5th position are? If so the beginner class will be great! If you are lost already consider checking out one of our absolute beginner ballet workshops. Maybe you took ballet as a kid and have some general idea whats going on…the Beginner/Intermediate class might meet your needs. Finding the right class is critical to making you feel comfortable so feel free to ask if you aren’t sure where to start.
What to expect: Class will start with barre work led by the teacher. Typically they progress through pliés, tendus, degagés, frappés, and adagio at the barre (don’t panic! The instructors really do teach you what all this means). You usually do each of the combinations on both your right and left. Following barre you might do tendus or something similar in the center, followed by a center adagio, petit allegro (jumps), turns or turn preps across the floor and a grand allegro. Class will conclude with a cool down called a révérence where you basically take a curtsy/bow. Water bottles are allowed (and encouraged) as you will be working hard! Classes are very structured but that doesn’t mean you cant ask a question! Ballet is hard work and often in French so don’t be afraid to ask.
I hope this post has helped answer your questions and calm you fears about starting ballet as an adult. It is easily one of the best decisions I made in my adult life and I hope you will do the same. See you at the Barre!”