I want to start dance. I’m 41. Am I out of luck?
I’m in love with choreography. When I was little I loved movie musicals. Now I want to learn dance.
Here are the problems with that:
I’m 41. For somebody just starting out dance, that’s pretty late in the game. I keep saying to myself, “Gwen Verdon” danced the lead in”Sweet Charity” at 41, but she danced all her life to get there! 🙁
I’m not as thin as I’d like to be. I can lose weight quickly, and my muscles spring out hard very easily when I exercise regularly, but right this second, I’m built “sturdy” – not slinky. 🙁
I have very heavy, sturdy, super strong bones – they don’t break, no matter what I do. That’s good for dance injuries, but that kind of bone density makes you physically heavy because these bones are heavier than more fragile ones. I’ll have to work so much harder to get lift when I do jumps. That’s intimidating.
Last, I have a damaged tendon in my left ankle and foot, and when I exert it, it becomes inflamed and hurts like the dickens. I can fight through the pain and I think dance is worth it. Besides, I’m sure dancers all face painful feet and ankles. That’s the biz I guess. So there are the obstacles.
The good points: I live in New York. Lots of dance schools here. But I don’t know where to start, there are so many! I could find and hang out with real dancers and dance students here. But I’m so lost, and I am also very scared. What should I do to start dance at 41? Am I a dreamer? Is there any hope for a 41 year old late bloomer?
Thanks for all answers, Yahoo dance community. Really. This is my dream.
weight loss cardiff answers:
Out of luck, absolutely not!
In terms of the body, don’t worry about getting thin. Body type has nothing to do with talent, it’s just a stereotype that gets you hired as a classical ballet dancer. I’ve seen 180 lb women with amazing talent, and I’ve seen 90 lb women that look like a grasshopper on stage. Also, that ‘slinky’ body is genetic, you can’t work out to get it. If you’re ‘sturdy boned’ then you always will be. At your age and at your ability you don’t want to have the bones of a little bird, nor do you want that facility. You want your body to be a sturdy and solid instrument on which you can rely. Overly flexible usually means weak, and weak means dangerous. You want a balance of strength and flexibility, as one is useless without the other.
To get in shape for dance I strongly recommend you sign up for yoga and pilates classes, especially in the ‘off season’. They’ll give you the long and lean muscles that dancers seek and use, and they’ll greatly improve your balance and flexibility (plus they’re nice and relaxing!). Running and lifting weights are useless for dancers. If you want good cardio, take up swimming. No impact on the joints and it burns huge calories. Skipping rope (professional boxer style, not double dutch) is a good way to get cardio, too, just make sure you’re in good shoes and using your knees properly.
The tendon may be fixable. If you haven’t been to physiotherapy then you need to go, even if it’s only for one or two sessions. They’ll teach you valuable at-home exercises. For the inflammation, remember RICE. Rest, ice, compression, elevation. Alternate between hot and cold compresses to reduce the swelling. Ibuprofen may help (Tylenol is NOT an anti-inflammatory). A proper support may be what you need. Get fit for a brace if your doctor deems it necessary. You’ll thank yourself when you’re 80. You may want to ask about special insoles for daily wear. It really depends on your injury.
Dance SHOULDN’T hurt if you’re doing it properly, so don’t convince yourself that beauty is pain and all that. If something hurts then that is your body’s way of saying SLOW DOWN, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG! Listen to your body talking. Some things will be uncomfortable, and you may be sore after classes, but you should never be in agony. If you take care of your body it will return the favor.
You’re certainly not too old to physically partake in dance. Some professionals dance until 40 (and are asked to retire for being ‘old’), and continue teaching well after that. My mother is far too old for the stage, but at 56 she still has the grace she had at 22 (and the skinny legs, which I envy). As long as you are physically in shape, age truly is ‘just a number’. Even my 80 year old grandmother still has that dancer poise (underneath the Parkinsons, mind you). You can spot dancers from a mile away, even when they’re ”old”.
I’ve had an 80 year old woman in one of my beginner classes, and she was awesome! I’ve also seen a man close to 90 move in ways I could only imagine (he’d studied yoga his entire life). Your mind creates these limitations, and with concentration you can free yourself from them. Set realistic goals, but don’t let the idea of ‘being over 40’ stop you from dancing to your very best potential. Baby steps, and stop when it hurts.
For now, sign up for yoga and pilates. Then, look for dance studios in your area (Mintchip had great suggestions). Sign up for beginner level adult classes once or twice a week. Go from there 🙂
Best of luck, I hope you discover a new passion.
(Also, you’ll probably learn basic technique for the first few years, don’t expect to see many jumps).