5 Pressing Questions About Adult Ballet, Answered

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woman dancing ballet in a leotard and tutu skirt with her arms open

two women on a bench putting on pointe shoes with a text overlay on the photo that says "Top Five Most Pressing Questions About Adult Ballet Answered"

Adult ballet is a relatively new concept. Historically, the ballet world has been highly selective and unwelcoming to the majority of the population. Even today, with the ballet world becoming more open (mostly due to the powers of the internet), professional ballet careers are STILL virtually unattainable for most people.

Ordinary people like you and me are welcome to peek behind the curtain, but most of us will never know what it is to be a professional ballet dancer.

While professional ballet may still be far off and distant for most of us, recreational ballet, on the other hand, has taken on a beautiful and boisterous life of its own. 

Adult ballet is a whole new subculture of regular people who are ballet students and ballet enthusiasts — and I am proud to be one of these people!

I personally think of adult ballet as a revolution — because here's the thing about adult ballet students: we are serious about ballet, more passionate about it than we could ever put into words, and we are changing the scope of how ballet is known to the world.

Average people doing ballet for fun is something that has really only taken off in the last, oh, I don't know — ten, maybe fifteen years or so? —  and because adult ballet is so new, many people have lots of questions about it.

It's totally normal to have questions about a new concept.

People unfamiliar with adult ballet might be wondering what it is all about and if they can be a part of it. (By the way, the answer to that second question is an unequivocal yes. Everyone is welcome to the adult ballet table. You can totally sit with us!)

Without further ado, here are the top five most pressing questions that people are asking about adult ballet, finally answered in one place...

#1) Am I too old to start ballet? Can you start ballet at 21, 35, 47...?

Basically, what people are really asking when they ask this type of question is: how late is too late to start ballet — is there any age at which a person becomes too old to try ballet for the first time?

My answer is a definitive: it's never too late.  

I don't care if you are twenty or eighty.

If you want to do ballet, then you should, and I really hope you can find a way to make your ballet dreams come true.

Go ahead and get in touch with your good friend Google about adult ballet classes in your city and see what you find. You might be pleasantly surprised by the number of options you have.

#2) Can adults learn to dance ballet en pointe?

Yes, absolutely! In fact, it's a bit safer for adults to learn pointe than it is for children, simply because our feet are no longer growing.

Anyone who tells you that adults can't or shouldn't do pointe is very, very mistaken.

Many, many adults begin pointe.

I, for example, started pointe in my early twenties, and I love it. I love the process of breaking in the shoes, the feeling of being en pointe, and the satisfaction that comes from small victories — it's an incredible process and experience.

Now, if you have never, ever done ballet before, you won't don pointe shoes for your first class. You'll definitely need some time to strengthen your feet and learn a foundation of ballet technique.

But once you have gotten started with ballet, if you are interested in doing pointe as an adult, I would recommend just talking to your ballet teacher about it!

Your teacher can give you an opinion on whether or not you are ready for pointe. If you aren't ready, then he or she may offer you some tips or exercises to help you prepare for pointe.

Unfortunately, adult pointe classes aren't always easy to find, but if your teacher knows that you are interested, he or she may be able to help you find something or may even offer to teach you in private lessons.

As for specific requirements for pointe, some teachers say students need at least two years of training before dancing en pointe, while others say that any time an adult student is strong enough, then why not just go for it?

It really depends on your personal situation and your teacher's approach to teaching pointe.

But believe me, plenty of adult ballet students all over the world are taking pointe classes regularly.

Lots of people do it. And you probably can, too — if you go to ballet class, build strength, and find a supportive teacher.

Seriously, just talk to your teacher! That's the best advice I can give you.

#3) Can I start ballet as an adult and become a professional?

This is a tough one. Many people would simply say, "No."

But I don't think it's that simple.

There are many stories of late beginners who went on to become professionals. But most of these people started as teenagers.

If you are like most adults, then you already have many other responsibilities in addition to learning ballet. And you are most likely supporting yourself and possibly your family financially.

Working full-time, raising a family, and any of the other numerous adult responsibilities that adults have can make it difficult, if not impossible, to find the time and resources that would be necessary to achieve a professional ballet career.

Ballet is expensive, physically demanding, and very, very time-consuming.

However, if you have a natural aptitude for ballet and a lot of time and a lot of money, then yeah, I do actually think it is possible for an adult beginner to go professional.

Most people's knee-jerk response to this question is: "No, you can't start ballet as an adult and become professional, but you can still enjoy ballet if you want."

And I understand that mode of thinking.

However, I honestly think that if all of the right circumstances came together for the right person at the right time...it could happen.

It would just be very expensive and very difficult.

But never say never!

#4) Is ballet a good workout for adults? 


Ballet is an excellent workout for adults. When you do ballet, you engage your core, you fix your posture, you elongate your body, and you use your muscles in new ways.

Go to a ballet class, and see for yourself! I bet it will rival any other workout you have ever tried.

And after taking ballet for a few weeks, you will likely notice that you are standing up straighter, holding your head higher, and that your muscles are not only stronger but also longer and leaner.

Ballet class, however, is mostly anaerobic, save for a few short bursts of cardio during petit and grand allegro.

So, it's a good idea to keep some cardio exercise in your routine in addition to regular ballet class.

Furthermore, because ballet is so difficult, it is a good idea to do some cross-training in order to better prepare yourself for the demands of ballet.

Yoga and Pilates complement ballet really well — if you do yoga and Pilates regularly, then you will likely find that ballet becomes much easier. Foam rolling regularly is also highly recommended, as it can loosen up your muscles and help you better achieve ballet positions and poses.

#5) Is ballet dangerous? Is it bad for your feet? 

Ballet isn't dangerous if you do it right.

Here's the thing: ballet is extremely unique and requires you to do a lot of strange things with your body, like turn out your legs from your hips, point your feet as hard as you can, pull up your abdominal muscles, and much more — but as long as you have an experienced teacher watching you and guiding you, you should be just fine.

As for your feet?

Regular ballet class in soft shoes shouldn't be too hard on your feet, but I am not going to lie, dancing en pointe can be a little rough on your feet.

But it's not as bad as you might think.

Today, there are all kinds of technologies that have led to so many different types of pointe shoes and padding.

Truly, you can probably find a way to make pointe not only bearable but possibly — dare I say it?  — comfortable. Okay, maybe not comfortable — but pointe shouldn't be terrible, either.

Sure, your feet are going to hurt sometimes if you are dancing en pointe frequently, but if you listen to your body, train properly, and tweak your shoes, ribbons, elastics, and padding as needed, pointe work shouldn't be completely intolerable.

So there you have it! Your top five most pressing questions about adult ballet...answered!

Can you think of any other questions people might have about adult ballet? Do you have any questions about adult ballet? Let me know!