How to improve in ballet as a late starter!

Success in ballet

Do you want to know how to  improve in ballet as a late starter? Defining success in any endeavor is a personal definition. For the sake of this post, let’s say “success in ballet” equals personal satisfaction and growth. Success won’t be measured by external factors such as a job as a dancer or another person’s approval.

Success in ballet at any age!
Success in ballet at any age!

In art, there is process and product.

  • Most artists are concerned with process.
  • Most critics put their emphasis on product because that is what they see and judge.

How to improve in ballet as a late starter

When I think of success, I think of a positive experience in the present and a projected idea for the future. When I was young and wanted to become a professional dancer, I did not have too many steps in mind. It was all just action, and more action, get, get , go , try and mind over matter. Not much planning because there was not time!  I was late to ballet is my personal story as a late starter.


The present moment was only a stepping stone to the future.

Take away the time constraint and you can live in the moment and enjoy your art.

How to improve in ballet as a late starter
Be in the present moment

Reality check–Okay this all sounds  lovely, doesn’t it? But how many ballet dancers do you know with that mindset?  Ahem….. almost none!

Even adult beginners are driven to achieve goals. They want to learn, dance and see progress. Sometimes they mark their progress like the young students. They want to go en pointe, execute that perfect turn or be in a production.

Some adults return to ballet because they regret quitting as a student and still love it. When they return, they no longer have those lofty goals or need to push themselves to an extreme to succeed. They enjoy the moment, I hope. However, this time goals can mean focus and intent–psst, my next post!

Success feels good.

We feel productive and accomplished. Dancers must learn to give themselves little pats on their back. It is hard to see progress when you are the art in process/progress. We are the clay and with the help of a good teacher, are being molded into a new creation that expresses music, emotion and a physical line in space. how to succeed in ballet as a late starter

Dancers are art.

Often students who trained in ballet as children, learned the benefits of hard work. They are more organized, they have good grades and have tenacity. All of these translate into the adult world of good work ethic and success. But can you have success in ballet if you start late?

Am I telling you to just enjoy the moment? Yes and no. Whether you are a late starter or not, you must be consistent because everyone wants to progress!

  • Consistency is the key to success.
  • You must get to class.
  • You must be consistent in your conditioning exercises.
  • Find a good teacher and trust them.
  • Apply corrections from your teacher. Ask questions if you do not understand.
  • Lose your pride and be humble. Do not take anything personally. Teachers are there to help you. Trust your intuition!
  • Take private lessons if you need to catch up in a specific area.
  • Take lessons with younger dancers, if you need to review.

No one is judging you, except you. When I take class, I rarely see anyone else dance. I have always been like that because ballet training is a myopic art. You must be self-serving to learn. My teacher did tell us to watch the good ones and copy them. She also said to watch the mistakes and learn what not to do! That is good advice and also listen to everyone’s corrections.

Find the right teacher and stay with them for a good amount of time. It is not advantageous at any age to “studio hop”.  Be sure that you  feel comfortable, inspired and engaged with your teacher. If you respect and admire your teacher and are not intimidated by him or her, it is most likely a good fit. Every teacher should correct your dancing and know your name.

I have noticed in many adult classes, that very few personal corrections are given. Everyone pays the same amount of money and should be guided, nurtured and instructed. If your teacher sits in a chair, never walks around and corrects– well, leave.

As a teacher I have noticed that there are a few students that give the hands off vibe, They want to be left alone for whatever reason. This is not so true in beginning classes, but more evident in higher levels upon occasion. From the teacher’s perspective, I find this difficult because I want to teach and help people. However, teachers learn to ignore those students. So be clear with your teacher. They may have misunderstood your signals.

I hope this helps you order your priorities to succeed on your terms and enjoy this enduring classical art! For more general information about How to Succeed in Dance, see this post.

If you like this posts and others, please share with friends and students so I can keep my blog growing and provide you with more ballet tips 🙂 Join our community and you will receive a free e-book on stretching and strengthening your ballet feet. It is very easy!


About Sarah Arnold

Ballet blogger, ballet teacher and adult ballerina. Creator of TutusChic and Sans Souci Printables.

5 thoughts on “How to improve in ballet as a late starter!

  1. I love taking your class and your blog is such an inspiration! Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. I absolutely love this blog. I feel you are never to late in life to start something new. Of course years of work and practice make for a great dancer, but when you approach it differently, with an easier mind set, you can enjoy your later in life successes.

  3. I agree and hope that no one every feels discouraged from starting ballet at any age. It is difficult but artistic and rewarding in so many ways! Most all of my best friends in life have been dancers too! Thank you for stopping by– I see that you are a teacher too. Welcome!

  4. I absolutely love your tips and think it is a great thing for someone to start something new later in life. We offer Adult Dance Classes Wednesday nights in our studio this time of year and just love seeing our dance family grow.

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