If you think the idea of dancing and ballet seem out of reach for senior adults, think again. You don’t need to be 10 years old or even wear a tutu to reap the benefits of ballet after 60!
While it’s true that many a young child dreams of growing up to be a ballerina and performing Swan Lake onstage in front of an adoring audience, dance is no longer just for young people.
Ballet for Senior Citizens
When professional ballerina Vanessa Woods injured her leg and was unable to dance until it healed, she decided to create a ballet class for those with a variety of different levels of physical ability.
With an eye toward more senior students, she modified ballet moves so even those who needed to sit could perform them. The chair takes the place of the traditional ballet barre for those who can’t stand.
Not to be outdone, the Royal Academy of Dance in the United Kingdom has also opened the floor to senior dancers known as Silver Swans. They have been encouraging more seniors to take ballet, and the Scottish Ballet’s Regenerate Group has actually staged a production of Swan Lake with seniors from all walks of life performing the piece.
For many of the newly-widowed women who take part in the program, becoming a Silver Swan and taking part in seniors-only ballet classes has given them the confidence to open up again as they gain support from their fellow swans.
Exercises for Senior Citizens
In the United States, local organizations are now offering ballet lessons for seniors. In Florida, you’ll find classes offered in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach.
In New York, classes are available from the West Village to Central Harlem and Long Island.
Chances are there is a class near you. Check with your local senior center to find one you can attend.
Benefits of Ballet for Seniors
Besides the fun of getting out and mixing with other seniors, there are many benefits of ballet for older adults. Students have found that they have better posture, improved memory, and improved balance. Much of this is due to the fact that you are required to memorize combinations and need to coordinate your body movements in time with the music.
In addition, ballet can also help to stretch muscles, straighten bones, and fight dementia, due to the fact that it requires focus to memorize and execute many of the ballet combinations and steps for dances.
Finally, ballet is great for older bodies as it isn’t a high-impact exercise like running, so there is less chance for injury to older joints.
If you’ve been looking for an exercise program that is fun and will improve your life physically and mentally, then ballet might be right for you. Regardless of your current physical abilities, there are programs that are right for you and your needs. You can start slow and advance at your own pace. And the tutu is optional!
Have you taken part in a seniors ballet class? What was your experience? Would you be willing to try your hand—or feet—at ballet over 50? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!