• Age 40 and up. Too late to start ballet classes?
• How can I prepare for my first ballet class?
• What do I wear in ballet class?
• Why the pink tights?
• Can't I cover up with a ballet skirt?
• I'm age 20 (or 25, or 30) and just beginning to dance. Is it out of the question that I could have a career in dance?
• I'm a teenager just starting ballet. Is there time for me to become a professional ballerina?
• I'm a man who wants to start ballet classes. What about me?
• Why isn't the site updated more frequently?
Q. I'm 40 years old (or 50, or 60). Is it too late to start ballet classes?
A. If you're reasonably physically fit, and have no major back, knee, or ankle problems, there's no reason you cannot take a beginning adult ballet class. You may be surprised to find quite a few people your age in class along with you. Why not observe a local class, and get an idea if it's for you. Check out our recommended teachers page, and see whether there's an adult ballet class near you. (These listings are all classes recommended highly by other adult ballet students like you.) If you don't find a nearby listing here at Blue Diamond, check out your yellow pages, and make a few calls.
Q. How can I prepare for my first ballet class?
A. If you're out of shape -- meaning that you're exercising vigorously fewer than three times a week -- I recommend that you begin some form of low-impact aerobic exercise before you begin ballet classes. (This is especially important if you're over 40 and have a sedentary lifestyle.) And keep doing that form of exercise along with ballet. If you're not physically strong before you begin ballet classes, there are quite a few things that can go wrong as you try to master such things as turnout, turns, beats, and leaps. And, unfortunately, the average adult ballet class doesn't give a high level of personal instruction. So, it's great to go in strong.
If you take a few ballet classes and find that you really enjoy them, an important next step is to subscribe to the Blue Diamond Newsletter. This bi-monthly publication gives many strengthening exercises, demystifies such subjects as proper alignment, diet, pirouettes, extension -- and much more. It's really a must for the serious older ballet student. Also, when you subscribe you gain access to many areas of this website open only to our members.
Q. I'm a 20-year-old woman (or 25, or 30). If I start now, is there any chance I can have a professional career as a dancer?
A. As a ballet dancer in a first-rate company, definitely not. There's some possibility, if you have a great deal of natural talent and the right body type (natural turnout, slim, well-proportioned), that you may be able to find some roles in regional ballet and other performance opportunities. This won't be sufficient to provide an adequate living, however. Your ballet study can help you in other forms of dance, and give you a better chance in performing in other forms of dance where you will be paid (flamenco and musical theatre to name just two). Check out my own story for a realistic idea of where your dance study may take you. You can also check out the many stories here at the site from women and men who are studying ballet (and often break into performing and teaching along the way). The best mindset to have is to study ballet for the love of it, and if paying opportunities come along, that's the icing on the cake.
Q. I'm 13 (or 14, or 16, or 18, or 20) just starting ballet classes for the first time. Can I still become a professional ballerina?
A. Sorry girls, but this isn't the right website for you. If you search the internet, you'll find many websites, discussion groups, and chat rooms that cater to teens and young adults. This site is for real late-starters: women and men in their 20s and older. A good place for late-starting teens to get information? Subscribe to Dance magazine. In almost every issue, you'll find questions from teens like you with answers from dance veterans.
Q. What do I wear in class?
A. As adults (and often, out-of-shape adults), we're afraid to look at our own bodies. Don't fear: In most adult ballet classes, you have some latitude in what you choose to wear. Some classes even allow you to get away without wearing leotards and tights. It's best to observe a class before taking it, or to phone the studio in advance for the dress code.
Even if leotard and tights are required, you're often allowed to cover up with leggings, a sweatshirt, or other warmup gear.
But, that being said, if you're serious about learning the art of ballet and reaching your highest potential, you'll eventually want to rethink your ensemble and get used to looking at yourself (bulges and all) in the mirror.
A good teacher will tell you that even with tight-fitting warm-up clothes, there's still so much you can't see. Especially, it's hard to see the line from the front of the thigh, up through the psoas, and through the pulled-up stomach muscles into the ribcage. It's hard to see whether the lower spine is relaxed, and the tailbone is down.
Q. Why the pink tights?
A. Here's the thing about tights. First of all, if you're a little heavier than you'd like to be, I recommend Capezio hold and stretch tights. I buy several pairs at a time, since they tend to sell out quickly. When I'm feeling fat and afraid to face the mirror, I wear a black pair. They make me look several sizes smaller, and I can go without all the bulky warm-ups, and actually see what my body is doing.
Something else. It's also not a bad idea to go ahead and wear the horrible pink tights even though you have to look at your cellulite through them. Pink tights aren't de rigueur for nothing. If you haven't tried wearing them, you'll be surprised at how much more detail you can see. You'll notice whether you're really turning out from the hip, you'll see whether your knee is really straight in arabesque, and overall it's much easier to see what your muscles are doing. Your teacher will also be able to see you much better, and you may receive more valuable corrections in class.
Q. Can't I cover up with a ballet skirt?
A. I've been noticing that wearing even a ballet skirt impedes my view of what I'm doing in class. So I guess my message is this: Especially if you can take class only once or twice a week, try to wear as few extra garments as possible. You'll progress much faster, and within a few weeks have a much greater sense of accomplishment and pride.
At the very least, try to take the last part of the barre without the warm-ups. Believe me, watch carefully and you'll get some real revelations in the mirror.
Q. I'm a guy. What about me?
A. Here's a great FAQ for you, with specific information for male ballet beginners. And don't forget to check out the personal stories on this site from men who were once rank ballet beginners like you.
Q. Why isn't the site updated more frequently?
A. Blue Diamond Dance has been online for quite a few years now, and will never be a big income generator, since there are simply not enough adult ballet students serious enough to spend $40 on our newsletter. Even the newsletter itself doesn't earn enough money to be considered truly profitable, let alone the website as a whole. So, in some sense, it's a labor of love, but also quite a grueling labor. That's why most new content appears in the premium-content areas of the site -- where I hope it may induce Blue Diamond fans to subscribe. I do try to update the public sections of the site three or four times a year, and I feel that's preferable to simply giving up and closing down the site as many arts-related sites have done in recent years.
What site visitors don't see is the number of behind-the-scenes hours I spend answering questions from our subscribers on technique, personal issues related to ballet, their hopes and fears, and much more. Then there are the hours it takes to edit submissions and update features like our Men's and Women's Page stories. Special mention should be made of our most-visited feature, the international Recommended Teachers page -- about which I constantly hear not thanks but complaints that the listings are sometimes old and not up-to-date enough.
The best way to ensure that this site will continue to exist (and be updated more often) is to become a subscriber. I have a 500+ e-list of people who want to stay in touch with the site. Once or twice a year, I send out an e-mail asking these site fans to subscribe and telling them everything they will receive when they do. Not one of these e-listers has ever come forth to subscribe. So that's where we are at this moment. I continue to be dedicated to offering a comprehensive resource for adult ballet and adult dance students. But I do that as I scramble among dance teaching, performing, publishing a newsletter, and doing anything else I can to make a very humble living in dance.