My Story as an Adult Ballet Dancer

Pointe Till You Drop, one of my favorite ballet blogs/FB pages, has recently invited its adult ballet student readers to contribute to its “Adult Ballet Dancers” album. This is not the first time the page owner, Johanna, an avid and long-time adult ballet dancer from Finland, extended such generosity to her fans. I have seen photos of other adult ballet students she posted earlier, and felt very inspired by all the stories behind them. So when she opened up a new album this time, I jumped on the opportunity to participate, in the hope that my photo and story would also be a source of inspiration for other adult ballet students, especially those who have not yet started and wondering if they should or can do ballet at all as an adult.

Here is the link to my photo and story, which I am reposting here on my own blog for my dear readers:

River Nymph

Photo by Westkenny

This photo was taken during a dance competition I participated in two years ago, when I was 41—the first and only time I ever performed on stage. It was a special moment as I was dancing with my best ballet buddy to original music composed by my husband and original choreography created for us by our teacher from a long distance (in Kazakhstan)!

Here is my story: I started learning ballet at 35 and eight years later am still loving it! I took two years of ballet when I was a kid but switched to modern for a couple of years and then stopped dancing altogether. When my health started to deteriorate in my 30s, I asked myself what would make me feel whole again. It didn’t take long to find the magical answer: “ballet”! Doing ballet at an age when most professional dancers would have retired presents a special kind of challenge–not to mention the large fibroid tumors inside me, which had given me serious impediments in the learning process since hip alignment is so crucial to ballet. Nonetheless, I kept calm and carried on. Now after my operation I am starting all over again as a beginner. I know that technically it will be an uphill battle. But I don’t let age get in the way of my enjoyment. Ballet is my biggest passion in life! I want to keep on dancing for as long as possible.”

And to throw in a little bonus, here is the video of the dance I did with my friend Carrie two years ago at the dance competition. It’s called “The River Nymphs.” Original music composed by Fredix. Original choreography by Nurlan Baibusinov. Enjoy!

Moldy Pointe Shoe Ribbons

Photo by Michael Sheehan (HighTechDad@Flickr) Creative Common License

“Sewing the Ribbons” – Photo by Michael Sheehan (HighTechDad@Flickr) Creative Common License

The constant tug of war between my desire to dance more and the inability to do so in real life has led to a overflow of my subconscious frustrations and regrets with ballet. A few days ago I had a short dream after drifting back to sleep in the early morning. In that dream I saw two ballet classmates, one of whom asked me for spare ribbons for her pointe shoes. I went and looked into my drawers and found a pair of old ribbons. “Ewe, they’re moldy!” I told my friend while taking them out for her. The dream ended just like that. Perhaps it reflects my desire to go back to those good old days when I was enjoying pointework and all the rituals related to it–and the current regret and uncertainty of when I will be able to get back en pointe. Worse still, the classmate who asked for the ribbons in my dream is someone I have unfriended. So much for an unpleasant dream. Hope my next one would be more delightful. Actually, I remember having an extremely pleasurable ballet dream around Christmas time last year. I’ll recount that a bit later, when I have more time. Hope your adult ballet life is off to a better start than mine in 2015!