Middle-Aged Ballerina

Dance is the hidden language of the soul.—Martha Graham

While watching the Beauty and the Beast ballet at Versailles on Christmas Eve Eve (12/23), I couldn’t stop thinking about pirouettes and coupés.

For nearly four decades I’ve had an on-again, off-again love affair with ballet—from grade school through junior high plus a few months sprinkled into my 30s and 40s. Today I completed my fifth class at The Washington Ballet and am smitten.

From the pianist who plays through the 75-minute class to taking classes at a school whose performances I’ve attended over the years, I’m delighted to be back donning a flowy ballet skirt and  slippers.

When I mentioned my interest in returning to ballet during a private online event in December, I received this detailed email from Deborah:

As I mentioned, I am also an adult “ballerina”. I have actually been dancing since I was 3 1/2 years old and currently reunited with my childhood ballet teacher… who is now 95 and is still going strong! My teacher, and our adult ballet class was recently featured on CBS news as part of a series that highlights active seniors who are following their passion (it’s only 2 1/2 minutes long): https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ballet-teacher-still-inspiring-students-after-decades/

Here are some classes and studios that you might be interested in. I am looking forward to hearing how your journey back to ballet is going!

Washington School of Ballet:

I highly recommend any classes that Irina Wunder teaches. I see on the schedule that she currently teaches Beginner Ballet classes on Fridays from 12:00-1:15pm. https://www.washingtonballet.org/adult-classes

Ballet NovA:

Any class that is taught by Constance Walsh is sure to be amazing! She is such a supportive and encouraging teacher, and even writes the adult ballet newsletter for this studio.  There are even adult dance performance opportunities a couple of times throughout the year. Irina Wunder also teaches at this studio on Saturdays, and I have heard good things about classes offered by Ms. Perez. http://www.balletnova.org/pages/?p_id=140110023722

Maryland Youth Ballet:

Julie Miles has been one of my favorite teachers for years! She used to be a teacher at the Washington School of Ballet and she is very “adult friendly”. Lucy Bowen McCauley is also amazing, and she offers dance and “stretch” classes, too. There are many different opportunities for classes offered: http://www.marylandyouthballet.org/adult-programs/drop-in-classes-mb/

There are a number of really great inspiring Instagram accounts that you may like. It is so nice to see adult ballerinas all over the world continuing their love of dance and sharing it! 


I wanted to share her thoughtful email in case you, too, are local and/or interested in returning to dance. She also shared these great vegan ballet slippers. I’d already picked up a pair of pink canvas Capezio ones (vegan except for the suede soles) to replace my black leather ones, so I’ll keep Cynthia King’s in mind for my next pair. So great to know about compassionate options!

Here are some photos from my early dancing experiences. The bottom one shows the stern and loving Mrs. Ellen giving me a talking to. Can you find me in the top one? I have one word for you: blush! Clearly I applied it all by myself.

While heading home from today’s class I was discussing with a friend how different it is to take ballet now. As a child we were practiced in preparation for our annual performance. Now, it’s simply to savor the process—a completely different mindset.

Ah, there’s that reminder to appreciate the journey again. Which can be quite hard when your muscles are shaking, you keep turning in the wrong direction, and immediately forget all instructions after they’re shown. I mean, so I hear.

Who knows, maybe a recital is in my future? I’d sure love to slip my feet back into toe shoes and a big tutu again. I mean, is there anything more feminine?

Enjoy this inspiring article on middle-aged women who say ballet’s transformed their lives.

Here’s to middle-aged ballerinas (or anything you decide to pick up in your adult years)! Bisous x

3 comments

  1. Deborah H says:

    I am so delighted that you shared these resources with all of your readers! I hope that they will be as inspired as you are to return to dance, or to begin taking classes for the first time. We are never too old to dance 🙂

  2. Alexandra says:

    So so lovely! I too keep returning to ballet as an adult and try to just enjoy the movements (and not think about how much more my body struggles with it now).

    Highly recommend Joy of Motion on H street and Friendship Heights! http://www.joyofmorion.org

  3. Amy says:

    It is ALL about the process! I’m thrilled you’re keeping at this! It’s so inspiring to take classes as an adult because everyone wants to be there, even if our turnouts are not even close to 180 degrees 🙂

    Keep going!

    Also to add to your list, a great studio in DC is the “Joy of Movement” dance school (on H street). Absolutely lovely teachers there.

    And as for vegan options- did you know that they even created vegan pointe shoes (not really sure how that works)? I think Gaynor Minden is truly transforming (albeit in a very controversial way) pointe shoe technology. For ballet slippers, canvas is a great option though. I used to go to a place in Maryland for my dancewear/ gear until I found discountdancewear.com and started spending a third less 🙂

    Keep dancing! <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *