The dancer Jacques d’Amboise said that “Dance is your pulse, your heartbeat, your breathing. It’s the rhythm of your life. It’s the expression in time and movement, in happiness, sadness and envy”. Indeed, it’s true that ballet is a form of art in which the human body becomes a channel of emotion, the score of a piece of music, and one of the most beautiful mechanisms of expression.
Rudolf Nureyev, Anna Pavlova, Maya Plisétskaya… These names shone a light on the field of dance and were an inspiration for many. Few disciplines require such grueling training and absolute dedication. You only have to think of movies like The Black Swan that depict the ups and downs of the world of ballet.
When you think of ballet, you might believe it’s only suitable for one kind of person. You might also consider that it can only be carried out by those who’ve done it since childhood. However, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, anyone can take up ballet regardless of their age. That’s why, right now, it’s one of the favorite hobbies among middle-aged women.
Ballet improves self-confidence and enhances balance, mobility, and cognitive skills.
A healthy and enjoyable activity
What are you doing right now to ensure you age healthily? It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 30, or 40 years old. Ensuring that the passage of time is kind to you and allows you to preserve your physical and mental abilities for longer is part of life. Therefore, investing in your quality of life in the present moment will have an effect later, when you’re in the autumn of your life.
Therefore it’s hardly surprising that ballet for women over 50 is becoming a worldwide trend. However, slipping into tights and ballet shoes for the first time in middle age can seem like quite a challenge.
That said, ballet has emerged as an energizing practice that participants describe as really enjoyable. In addition, from a psychological and medical point of view, dance is one of the best resources for promoting well-being.
Women over 50 who take up ballet discover the pleasure of moving their bodies to music. They also enjoy the exercises that take a certain amount of skill to perform.
1. Improvement of self-perception
Naturally, anyone who enrolls in ballet in middle age doesn’t expect to enter the Paris opera company. They want to exercise, learn, and have fun. Yet, teachers don’t necessarily restrict themselves to giving their older pupils easy exercises. After all, they want to learn specific techniques and improve their coordination and balance skills.
An investigation conducted by the University of California (USA) interviewed 24 recreational ballet dancers between the ages of 23 and 87. The findings proved that regular participation in these sessions improved their self-concept and self-expression.
In fact, these women demonstrated a greater appreciation for their own bodies, an acceptance of the passage of time, and improved self-image. Furthermore, they didn’t think of themselves as older women doing dance, they perceived themselves as dancers.
2. A pleasant cognitive challenge
Ballet for women over 50 isn’t seen merely as a few hours of distraction once a week. These are rigorous classes that teach often complex dance techniques. Naturally, every student has their own potential and limitations. However, one overall benefit is the improvement of a multitude of cognitive skills.
For example, attention, memory, planning, and even perseverance. In addition, starting dance classes and enjoying them ignites both motivation and the determination to learn and establish new techniques. They also improve sensorimotor performance.
In fact, proprioception, the brain’s ability to recognize the exact position of each area of the body, is a skill that improves with dance. Kinesic memory or body language is exercised and flourishes to the fullest with ballet.
Ballet instructors must know what needs and challenges each woman is able to meet so she can achieve her full potential in dance classes.
3. Physical and emotional expression
Dancing means achieving harmony between the body and the music, between the mind and movement. Emotions flow and find a new channel of expression. In effect, ballet for women over 50 allows them to rediscover themselves. In turn, they discover an innovative way to vent their feelings.
As a matter of fact, dance is an extraordinary way to manage daily stress, regulate anxiety, and oxygenate the body with gratifying neurotransmitters like serotonin or endorphins.
4. Social connection and alliances with other women
One of society’s biggest problems today is loneliness which is a dimension that intensifies over the years. Attending dance classes on a regular basis has innumerable social benefits. For instance, it forges friendships, allows individuals to overcome shyness, and facilitates enriching emotional connections.
These women create an alliance with other dancers of the same age. This allows them to share their feelings, fears, and common realities typical of their time of life. Dancing forges new bonds. It’s an individual and collective exercise at the same time. It’s intimate yet expressive and improves communication at all levels.
Ballet allows us to tell stories without words. In turn, it forges alliances with other dancers regardless of age. It’s an artistic, social, and emotional exercise.
5. Healthy aging
It isn’t easy to reach an advanced age with an agile body, an alert, curious mind, and the desire to continue learning. However, what you do today will have repercussions tomorrow when the wrinkles start to appear. Ballet in women over 50 makes it easier to reduce many of the symptoms associated with age.
Research conducted by the University of Alberta (Canada) claims that ballet strengthens female joints. It also preserves their flexibility. Not to mention muscles, coordination, and agility. Consequently, few practices are more stimulating at any age than learning how to dance and enjoying the art of ballet.
So, let’s drop the prejudices about age and bodies and take the plunge. Ballet is a means to an end. It’s an opportunity to rediscover yourself and enhance your health and well-being at all levels. Why not give it a try?