Am I Too Late To Start Dancing?

I think everyone goes through the reminiscing of the past. Sometimes it ends with smiles and a warm fuzzy feeling in your stomach, but other times, you end up beating yourself up because you didn’t make certain decisions. This may be due to ignorance or just plain stubbornness. Whether these mistaken decisions were not going for the job you dreamt about, or not developing that awesome skill you’ve always wanted to or not mastering a subject, it’s alright. You still have time.

 

Why Be So Hard On Yourself?

Dancing could be one of these skills that you’ve always wanted to master and you just… didn’t. This isn’t all that uncommon. Within the dancing industry, this self-consciousness happens way too often. There are always these resurging thoughts that speak out:

“Am I too late to start dancing?”

“If I wanted to be a ballerina, I had to start at five years of age.”

“It’s impossible to get to the level of Beyoncé, AJ Pritchard, Autumn Miller, Misty Copeland, so I rather not even try.”

Comparing yourself to professional dancers and wishing that you could do beautiful dance moves on the first try is kind of dumb. It sets unrealistic expectations about your abilities and your body. You’ll end up feeling left behind and belittled.

Sure, we could all agree that we want to be Beyoncé, I mean, look at her! Yet, cliché as it may sound, you could be someone better, and that someone better is Future You. Every dancer is unique! So, stop stressing about not putting on those pink tights at five years old! You could put them on now. If dancing is what you want there should be nothing limiting yourself to do so. Heck, we dance all the time. In the car, in our room, at the bar and when that sweet beat drops on the line to order at McDonald's. Everywhere. So, if dance is such a huge part of our daily life, then why not give it a shot?

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Martha Graham Dance Company (@marthagrahamdance) on

Of course, If you’re going after a professional occupation in dancing, it may be harder, but it’s possible. Read Michelle Haswell’s story. She started at about 35 years old. She’s not the only one. Martha Graham, Rudolf Nureyev, José Limón, Misty Copeland, David Zurak, Gordon Peirce Schmidt, Keith Sabado, and Jennifer Macavinta all started in their early and late teens.

 

My Story

I started dancing classical ballet when I was 20 years old. I had no past dancing experience whatsoever. Before jeté-ing into the world of dancing, the only physical activity I did that required coordination, flexibility and gracefulness were gymnastics. I  wasn’t a professional level ten gymnast either! When I was 13, I became part of a competitive gymnastics team for three years. I ended up quitting at 16.

I’ve always admired dancers. I invested so much of my time watching Dancing with the Stars, America’s Best Dance Crew, So You Think You Can Dance, Mira Quien Baila! and other dancing shows. I watched plenty of dancing clips on TV and YouTube. There was something certain in me: I needed to dance. I’d always felt that I had the potential to do so. Still, I thought that I was too late to become a dancer.

I decided to start dancing at the age of 20 twenty because I went through this sudden breakdown. I started questioning what I was doing within my life and what was missing in it. I grabbed a notepad and a pen and started writing things that I’ve always wanted to do. One of the things on my list was dancing. There are so many types of dancing out there! There’s salsa, tango, samba, kabuki, bhangra, belly dancing, break dancing, ballet, and so many more.  I decided that I wanted to start with ballet since it’s like the founding mother of all dances.

Yes, I did have people trying to tear down my dream:

“Oh, you’re starting dance now? But you can’t”

“You needed to start at a young age.”

“It will be so difficult to do at your age.”

I’ll admit it: I was so nervous the first time I went to the studio. I stood and looked up at the very narrow staircase that led to the dance floor, towards the voice that sounded like a metronome, I gathered my courage and began to walk. I went up those stairs and what I saw was magical. There were breathtaking dancers of all shapes, sizes, and ages. All of them looked beautiful. They expressed themselves through motion and I automatically fell drawn to it. I danced for five hours a week and occasionally practiced at home.

The results: after almost two years, I managed to get to level 3 ballet and begin pointe! So, what’s stopping you?

 

Is Dancing Hard?

After starting ballet, I started to practice jazz as well. It made me realize that dancing should absolutely be an Olympic sport. I came to admire dancers so much. I think it takes twenty times more effort, devotion, concentration, memory, self-love, pain (so much pain), to become a ballet dancer than perhaps a football player. Now, I’m not saying that American football isn’t hard. As athletic as I’ve always been, I’ve never tried American football. It probably takes a lot of work and as much devotion as any other sport does. It should be equally as credited.

That’s why it hurts me at a spiritual level when people say that dancing is just moving with a beat. The notion is that dancing isn’t hard at all. Let me say this as clearly as possible: Dancing is hard. It’s agonizingly hard and it’s painful. And that’s what makes it so great! It works out and strengthens every single part of your body. Your whole existence begins to ache and you start to work muscles that you didn’t even know they were there.

I encourage everybody to start ballet as a way to work out. It’s a great way to keep being healthy. I got fit and fast:  hello abs, strong lumpy arms, hard-back, and beautifully toned legs! Of course, depending on your body type, effort, and doing it right will determine that bodylicious result. I saw progress faster than what I expected which made the experience even more satisfying. For more information on working out the ballerina way, you should check out Lizzy Howell. She’s a body positive ballerina, and she will definitely break down your notions of what a ballerina should be.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Lizzy Howell (@lizzy.dances) on

 

And let’s say that maybe you feel self-conscious about going into a studio, that’s ok. There is always Youtube classes, who says you can’t be self-taught? I would always recommend having someone there to guide you, but if it’s a little economically tight for you it’s fine. Just get over with the excuse that you can’t do it. There are many dancers that started “late” such as celebrity choreographer Kyle Hanagami (19 years old), principal ballerina of the American Ballet Theatre: Misty Copeland (teenage years), Anthony Lee (in college), heck! A Jabbawockeez member started dancing at 21 and they’re a lit famous hip hop sensation. Moreover, there are plenty of stories on YouTube of dancers that started in the spring of their adulthood and they are doing awesome. I listened to Alicia Archer’s story recently on YouTube; she is ridiculously talented and flexible, and she started dancing in her teens. I also enjoyed watching Ashly Perez transformation in a challenge she made to herself called: I Learned How To Dance In 30 Days. The results were amazing. So, find out about other late bloomers. They might serve you as inspiration.

 

Am I Too Late To Start Dancing?

The answer is: no.

Dancing is for everybody. Now, it’s important to ask yourself: “How far do you want to go?” Do you want to be a performing ballerina, a Royal Ballet swan or do you simply want to learn how to dance in a company? Before starting dance training, figure out what your goal is. This will dictate the training, the effort, and dedication you have to put into it. Don't expect to wake up one morning and be extremely flexible and be able to do perfect twenty pirouettes. You must put in work and plenty of it. It’s quite obvious that the sooner you start anything the better, and if you start later in life then you started later in life. I don’t see why dance should be the exception.

 

It might be easier for your body to adapt at a younger age, but is that it? If you want to give something a try, do it. Your age, your body type, size or your sex, should never limit you. There are no age police telling you: “You can’t do it”. Bust the age myth and bust social and mental barriers. If you feel that something calls you, whether is dance or not, do it. There might be an unknown reason why it’s happening and who knows, maybe you won’t magically wake up as Beyoncé, but you could be back dancing her on-stage someday.