There are many of us who have grown up dreaming of becoming a dancer only to have those dreams thwarted by finances, distance, or our adults just not understanding the value and importance of our passion and the arts in general. So when the opportunity presents itself to begin dance lessons our first question is usually am I too old to learn to dance?
The direct answer is a resounding no! You are never too old to begin dance lessons! There are so many different styles of dance that you can take part in at any stage of your life from ballet through jazz, tap, hip hop, contemporary, etc. It really doesn’t matter what style you choose as long as it makes you happy and gives you something new to try out.
But although the answer to the question of whether you are too old to learn to dance is a definite no, the questions of will I be able to become a professional dancer at my age or can I learn to dance in pointe shoes or can I become a great dancer are not as black and white and so I want to cover in detail the answers to many late starters questions by breaking this article up into sections regarding the different styles of dance as well as discussing the pros and cons of starting at various ages.
Ballet is the foundation of most western dance forms and possibly the hardest to master when starting later in life. The reason for this is because doing ballet from a young age the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, and even bones begin to be trained, sculpted, and molded towards a certain alignment that helps the dancer produce the aesthetically pleasing movements and positions of ballet with ease and grace. Young bodies are more malleable and flexible than older ones meaning that there is less chance of injury during training and their muscles are more likely to retain the length and strength they are developing over time.
But ballet also requires very high levels of coordination which means that although younger people are better suited to the flexibility requirements of the art, the pro is that older people are more likely to be able through consistent effort and hours of practice time and dedication achieve similar results.
There are very few people who actually know how to do ballet properly without having had years of training under their belt. This means that even though you may think you could pick it up quickly, you would probably need several years of intensive study. Ballet requires strength, flexibility, coordination, and stamina which all require time to develop but once these things are mastered then you should find yourself progressing more rapidly.
Can you become a professional Ballerina at any age?
You could definitely label yourself as a professional ballerina after years of dedicated training at any age, but that does not necessarily mean a professional ballet company will be willing to hire you.
Is starting ballet at 12 too late
The age of 12 is when most ballet students first start dancing in pointe shoes after many years of training and strengthening their feet and legs. Starting ballet at 12 is not too late, but you will possibly find yourself playing catch up or starting off in classes with children who are much younger than you in the beginning. This should not deter you from starting though because there is a good chance that with determination you will jump levels and classes and eventually be in the same lesson as others around your own age and skill level.
Can you start ballet at 13 with no experience
Yes you can begin ballet at the age of 13 with no experience. Most notably today we know that Misty Copeland principal with the American Ballet Theatre began her training at the age of 13. Her teacher recognized her talent immediately and encouraged her to pursue ballet to an elite level.
Is 14, 15, 16 or 17 too old to begin Ballet lessons?
The ages of 14-17 are not too old to start lessons in ballet. But it is an age where the chances of becoming a professional ballet dancer start to decline as the bones in your body begin to harden and it becomes harder to develop flexibility and especially turn out of the hip joints. Many teens who know they want to go on to forge professional ballet careers at this age will already have 5-8 years of training under their belt and if not already be in, will be looking at entering into part-time or full-time dance training at a preparatory or pre-professional academy or school.
Having said this, if you are naturally flexible or have trained in gymnastics or cheer, for example, the transition into ballet may take some discipline, but your previous training may pave the way for you to explore opportunities to dance professionally in ballet.
Ultimately though, if you have dreamed of learning ballet, dancing in pointe shoes or dancing on stage in a tutu with your local studio or even local dance company this is absolutely possible for you starting at these ages provided you are willing to put in the hard work to achieve your dreams!
Another thing to note as a teen still in school starting ballet or dance lessons – is that finding a class that fits your level and age may be a bit more difficult. It is much more likely that there will be a teen’s beginner hip hop class available than a teen’s beginner ballet class at many schools. You may have to enter a class with children much younger than you or on the other end of the spectrum join an adult’s beginner ballet class. Joining the adult class might also pose problems for safety issues such as child protection in the classroom so not all dance studios may allow you to join this class depending on your age and perhaps parental permissions etc…
Can I get good at ballet as an adult?
Starting ballet as an adult can seem like a daunting task, but for many people who never had the opportunity to do so as a child, it is a lifelong dream and one I am not going to break! You can absolutely begin ballet as an adult and you can also get good at ballet as an adult.
If it is your dream to dance on stage in a tutu or dance in pointe shoes, as an adult you are more than capable of mastering the art of ballet to do this, but just like it takes the 6-year-old until they turn 12 to be able to wear pointe shoes, you will need to have similar expectations for yourself! Like anything whether it be learning a language or learning to play an instrument as an adult our neural pathways can take a little longer to adjust to the new information being thrown at them. On top of this your body needs to slowly build up the muscle strength to be able to execute the movements you are learning. It will take time to build up your skill to be able to perform on stage or en pointe, and the one sure way to know you are moving too fast is through injury which is more likely to occur as we get older and our muscles and joints tend to stiffen and not be so malleable compared to when we were younger.
Can you become a professional ballet dancer as an adult?
It would be extremely unlikely that you would be able to master the art of ballet as a beginning adult to become a professional ballet dancer for an elite company.
However, we sometimes get caught up and limit our own dreams by stating that to be a professional and to have ‘made it’ we have to have performed and danced in certain places and for certain people. So instead we can dream big, but small at the same time. There are many smaller ballet companies that may not be able to pay the wages of a large company or may even be amateur or more hobby or passion groups who come together and put on ballets and shows in their local communities providing an outlet for those who love to perform dance and those who love to watch it. For many adults who begin ballet later in life, these opportunities fulfill their dreams of dancing on stage and in front of an audience.
Another avenue that some current professional dancers who took their first steps into a ballet studio over the age of 20 have ventured into is the realm of contemporary or modern dance. These styles have a use for ballet knowledge and technique but are more strongly based on unique choreography and exploring the movement and limitations of the body. Perfect turn out and flexibility are not always a requirement of modern or contemporary dance and there are some modern dancers today in professional companies who after trying a modern dance class as an extracurricular or credit for their college degree have never looked back!
Am I too old to learn to dance??? – All Other Styles…
I am going to begin this section by stating that I have personally danced professionally as a commercial dancer, in a musical, in film clips, and more, and I have experience of many different styles of dance. I went to a pre-professional dance school full time for three years where I saw many other adult students just beginning their journey as a dancer in a foundation course, some whom stayed in that foundation course for several years before moving into the pre-professional course to eventually work as professional dancers and therefore my general advice to anyone starting dance up to and around the age of 30 will be very similar, although I have broken it down into age groups because people like to know the direct answer to their ability to start dance in relation to their current age. But obviously, if you are over 30 and wondering why I may have different advice for you then skip down to that part but generally as I answered at the very start of this article you are never too old to start dance.
Is it too late to start dance at 14?
No, 14 years of age is not too old to start dance lessons in styles such as hip hop, tap, contemporary or jazz dance and even go onto do professional work in these styles. However ballet requires much more training and dedication to become a professional than any of these styles and the earlier you begin the better, so if it is your dream then starting today is better than tomorrow. Also it is good to note that
Is it too late to start to learn to dance at the age of 15?
Hip hop, tap, contemporary or jazz dance can be taught at any age and you can even do professional work in these styles if you start dancing at 15 years old. Ballet requires much more training and dedication to become a professional than any of these styles, and therefore you may need to adjust your expectations whilst still striving to be your best if you dream of becoming a ballerina.
Is it too late to start to learn to dance at the age of 16?
16 is a great age to start dance lessons in styles such as hip hop, jazz, or tap dance. Ballet, however, is a bit more difficult to master if your sights are set on becoming a pro when starting at this age although not impossible especially if you have experience in another movement type activity such as gymnastics, poms, or cheer. But this should not deter you from starting ballet at any age as you can always dance on stage with your school or local company and even go onto become a teacher!
Is it too late to start to learn to dance at the age of 17?
Hip hop, tap, contemporary, or jazz dance can be learned at any age and you can even go on to have a professional career if you are passionate and put in the work to master these styles if you begin dancing at 17 years old. Ballet on the other hand, requires extensive training of the muscles and discipline to become a professional compared to many other styles, so you might need to adjust your expectations if you want to be a ballerina.
Is it too late to start to learn to dance at the age of 18?
It is never too late to start dance classes and turning 18 should not be a reason to stop anyone from trying. Becoming a professional ballet dancer may not be in your cards, but with hard work and dedication dancing in other styles for fun or professionally is still an option especially if you have experience in other similar movement orientated extra-curriculars growing up – but even those with the passion and no experience can succeed if they commit to the daily action of attending dance class and working on their flexibility, strength, stamina and co-ordination!
Is it too late to start to learn to dance at the age of 20 or 21, 23 or 25?
No! It is not too late to start learning to dance in your twenties at all! And it is also not a foregone conclusion that you couldn’t become a professional dancer in for example hip hop, commercial dance, tap or maybe even jazz with hard work and dedication. But it might be a bit far-fetched to expect you could be dancing with the New York City Ballet for example by starting ballet in your 20s just as it might seem a little unlikely that you could become a violin virtuoso. But just like you could learn to play the guitar and be in a band at this age, you could still learn ballet and perform but just on a different platform such as in your dance studio’s recital or la ocal community dance companies season production.
Is it too late to start to learn to dance in your 30s or 40s?
If you are in your 30s or 40s you can absolutely learn to dance. A great example of this is television shows such as ‘Strictly Dancing’ or ‘Dancing with the Stars’ that take actors, athletes, and other well-known public figures and partner them with a professional dancer whose job it is to teach them to dance! Many of the contestants on these shows have never had a professional dance lesson in their lives and within a few weeks of intensive training are dancing on tv doing complicated choreography that they might never have thought they could have done were it not for the motivation of dancing on the show and the instruction of their teacher.
This being said, as we enter our 30s, 40s, and beyond one of the main things we need to realize is that however much we might want to deny it, our bodies are aging. Our muscles and joints become stiff more easily and it can take longer to warm up and longer to recover. My point is that when taking on dance lessons at any point in life, but more so when we are older it is important not to push our bodies beyond what they are capable of but also important to have a growth mindset of I can’t do that YET! Prevention of injuries should be at the forefront of your dance journey as an older student and so when taking classes it is always important to ensure safe dance is being practiced and that you are warming up and cooling down and taking enough rest days in between your classes for your body to recover!
What are you waiting for?
If you are here reading this article waiting for someone to give you permission to start dance lessons – here I give it to you… You are allowed no matter what age you are to go and find a dance class or lesson that will give you the skills to achieve your dream of being a dancer!
But where do you start? If you are stuck on how to find a dance school or what to look for in a school you should definitely check out our article on how to choose a dance school by clicking here.
And if you are after more information on things such as how long it takes to become a professional dancer, do you need to have dance experience to dance in college, how old you should be to start dancing and more check out the article list below or use the search function in the menu barre at the top of the page to find the information you are after!
Good luck and I hope this article has inspired you to get up and dance! And if it has make sure to tag us on Social Media – @danceparent101
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