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General

Tips for Adults Taking Dance Classes

There are many reasons to continue, or begin, taking dance classes as an adult. Whether your studio has adult-specific classes, or you will be included in student classes at your ability level, many studios offer excellent options for adult dancers.

Goal-Setting for Adult Dancers
Setting specific and measurable goals will help you get the most out of your classes. Your goal could be to perform in the studio’s summer recital, lose 10 pounds in the next two months, or be able to touch your toes. Goals that are specific, measurable, and have a timeframe associated with them are easy to track and achieve.

Writing down your goals before classes begin, or talking them over with your instructor, will help you stick to them. Your instructors will want you to be happy in class, and working toward a goal will help both of you keep your focus. It is a good idea to revisit your goal throughout the season, to make sure you are on track.

If you haven’t taken a dance class in a few years, or you have never exercised to this level, you will probably experience sore muscles at first. Your body will need time to adjust to the new activity. Muscles can be iced for 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off after class to help with inflammation. If you find you are not stretched enough after the class warm-up, you may want to begin stretching at home before class to give yourself better muscle control. Over time, you will experience less fatigue after your body adjusts. Always see a doctor if you experience persistent or serious pain or injury.

Adjusting to Dancing with Younger Students
It is possible that the studio you choose may not have adult-specific classes. In these cases, they may allow you to take classes with their students, and they will match you with a class that shares your ability and experience levels.

When taking classes with younger students, you should try to pay attention to your body’s limitations. While the students may be able to stretch for longer periods of time, repeat floor work combinations over and over, or remember and pick up steps more easily, you must know when you need to stop, take a break, or modify a movement. This will not only help you to avoid injury, but will prevent against burnout. It is a good idea to tell your teacher ahead of time if there is anything that may prevent you from dancing “full out” with the rest of the class, such as a previous injury or exercise advice from your doctor.

If you feel that you are not up to the level of the students in your class, set up a meeting outside of class with the instructor and voice your concerns. He or she may feel that you are well-matched with the students and may ask you to give it some more time, or he or she may give you some different options of classes you can take instead. It is important to keep the lines of communication open between yourself and your instructors.

Communicating with Your Instructors
It is important to communicate openly with your instructors. Not only should you let them know of any limitations you may have, but you can also discuss your goals, your dance background, and your reasons for taking classes. Remember that your instructors are there to help you learn and to meet your dance and fitness goals. They can be great coaches and mentors in your journey.

Enjoy the Journey

Whether your adult dance experience is a new journey or the continuation of a lifelong love for dance, remember to take time to enjoy the experience and revel in the art form. Dance is a wonderful outlet for creativity as it challenges both the body and the mind in a beautiful expression of movement. Let your wings soar and have fun sharing dance with others in your class.

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About Terry

Terry Finch is a dance teacher and choreographer with an extensive training and teaching background that spans 26 years. Terry has held a variety of teaching positions, from assisting instructors at her dance studio, to teaching at summer performing arts camp, and leading college level master classes. She is currently in her fourth year as a dance teacher at a studio in central Pennsylvania.

5 Responses to “Tips for Adults Taking Dance Classes”

  1. On March 7, 2012 at 10:31 pm Liliana Alexander responded with... #

    I was very glad to read your article on adults dancing as it describes very well what I am living right now. I danced since age 5 until college was getting to demanding to continue, at around 20 years old. I went through all the grades in the Royal Academy of Dancing system and loved it very much. Six months ago, 20 years later -I am 40 right now- I joined an adult intermediate cuban system class at the same studio as my 5 year old daughter. The experience of putting on again my ballet shoes and leotards was undescriptable. I took me about two months to fully recover movement and abilities, such as fixing a spot for pirouettes or keeping knees outward when doing passés. Little by little the marvelous muscular memory helped me into this adventure. After 4 months I decided I wanted to have additional classes in order to prepare for the studio’s summer performance next summer. My teacher suggested then to join a intermediate regular course with 16-20 year old girls!!! At first I was shocked; the minute I got into the classroom and saw my young partners I felt a little intimidated, but once the class started I felt exactly like them as I could very easily follow the class and could even join them at pointe work. Some times, indeed I do feel the age over me, as some days I can’t go all the way down to split, and some mornings my knees hurt. But at the end I am having a blast dancing four days a week and feeling, for two hours a day, that I am the only person that matters for me in the world. It had been a long long time since I last devoted some time to do an activity just to pamper my self and now I am committed to pursue it all the way through. I make my best every day, and have even recently accomplished to do double pirouettes and balance in passé relevé again! So, I thank all those teachers who allow us adult former ballet students to rediscover our bodies and the pleasure of mixing art, body and mind and grow old gracefully.

    • On March 7, 2012 at 11:20 pm admin responded with... #

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment Liliana. We are thrilled to hear of your rediscovery of dance and are sure that your story will inspire others to do the same. Best wishes!

      -Kristen
      All About Dance

  2. On May 22, 2012 at 3:48 pm fc responded with... #

    Thanks for your encouragement. I started attending adult ballet class four years ago at 51 years. Previously I had six months of basic ballet class about 18 years ago. Yes, I am the oldest in the class and cannot do the grand pile like the rest. I also cannot remember steps. When the rest are executing different steps from the previous combination, I am stuck at the previous steps. How do I improve my memory of the steps?

    • On May 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm admin responded with... #

      Hi there!

      Thanks for sharing your dance experience! As far as improving memory of the steps, that will start to come naturally the longer you take the class, and the more familiar you become with repeated movements. Practicing combinations at home often helps as well. The good news about ballet class is that it challenges both our body and our mind. No matter how many years you have been at it, there is always something new to practice, a new combination to remember, or a fresh way to try an old trick. In adult classes it is great because everyone can work at their own pace. If there is a particular combination that you find tricky or are having trouble remembering, I bet your teacher would be happy to go over it with you after class and give you some tricks that will help you transition from one movement to the next. Most importantly … keep on dancing! Cheers!

      -Kristen
      All About Dance

  3. On May 24, 2012 at 1:51 pm Diane responded with... #

    Thanks for your article. Just when I get discouraged, I find something like this to “keep me going”. I will turn 60 in October and have never taken a dance class of any kind, but have always been fascinated with tap. My first class was a year ago, and I was with several younger ladies – all of them having danced before. They of course, moved on to more advanced classes, but I have kept at it. My teacher is fantastic, patient, and very encouraging. In fact, she told me last week that she would never, never cancel this class, because she loves the look on my face when “I finally get it”. I’m half way into learning a routine “Me and My Shadow”, and yes, it is more difficult for me to remember steps, pick up speed, etc., but I’m going for it.

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