Ballet Limits as an Adult Beginner

I had an interesting conversation the other day with another ballet beginner (adult) about physical limitations due to previous injury and it really got me thinking about my own situation and the situation that a lot of older ballet starters would find themselves in.

At the age of 40, I have had my fair share of breaks and injuries. I have broken my wrist, my jaw (metal plate), various bones in my right hand, my right ankle and torn my medial ligament in my right knee. I think that’s about it. LOL.

So, due to these previous injuries there are a number of things that I am ‘hesitant’ to do, mainly due to not wanting to aggravate anything.

The other adult ballet dancer that I was speaking to had a major accident a while ago and found turnout sometimes difficult to achieve.

Ballet is something that I find incredibly beautiful, it was the first thing that drew my eye to it. It’s aesthetically pleasing, but this can lead to false expectations when you are either showing someone what you can do, or to yourself.

With the rise-and-rise of talent show competitions, the general public are used to seeing perfection, without necessarily seeing the years and years of work that goes into it. It’s a similar situation with my violin playing. It takes decades to get to the standard that people see on the TV, or in a concert hall, so when someone says to you ‘So, show me what you can play’, expectations are already high, due to their preconceived idea of what a skilled player can do. These expectations have to be readjusted when you explain to them that this is the level of what I can do after 2 and a half years of playing.

The same goes with ballet. We, as student ballet dancers, know how difficult even the most basic of moves are to do in ballet, and how many years it takes to perfect these moves (if ever they are perfected). So, when someone says ‘Is your leg supposed to be bent?’ or ‘How come you’re wobbling?’ it is necessary to let them know that a) you are aware that your leg shouldn’t be bent/wobbling all over the place and b) It’s a work in progress, and you should have seen me when I started, I couldn’t even do ‘this’.

I know, as an adult, you do tend to critique yourself a bit more. Not just in ballet, but in life in general. ‘Why did I say that?’ ‘Why did I not get the promotion/job?’ ‘What could I have done better?’, etc. And it’s tough to try and get this out of your head when you are learning and incredibly technical skill, such as ballet.

We are all individuals, and all different. With different abilities and different reasons for wanting to take up ballet in the first place. It’s important to keep this mind, particularly in the very open world of social media.