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Hello adult newbie here with questions...


polishrose
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Firstly, some background...I did ballet a very very long time ago, gave up when I was 9..I am now 42(43 next month).I am also overweight-very very overweight.Totally unfit.I am however quite flexible.I can still touch the floor with my hands and have straight legs. My eldest daughter,19,who still does ballet at uni while studying geography(not at the same time!) suggested to me that I should try an adult ballet class.I remember the 5 positions and that's about it.

So..questions...should I try the classes? Am I going to make a fool of myself?I am not expecting ballet to make me lose weight-I am doing swimming and cycling for that and eating appropriately) but I am hoping it will help tone up muscles and skin.I am hoping it will make me more graceful, more aware of my body,happier with myself.Should I try the total beginners class or the one aimed at all abilities?My daughter thinks I should do the all abilities one.Although I am quite flexible leaning forward, my sideways movement is very stiff, as are my shoulders.

Secondly-where can I get suitable clothing?I am a size 22 on top and a size 26 on the bottom(uk sizes).I would prefer to wear a leotard and tights as I want to feel like a proper ballet dancer, rather than someone doing an exercise class.I don't want to spend hundreds on these items though.Also what type of ballet shoes should I get?Full sole or split sole?I am a uk size 6/6.5.Fairly high arches but occasionally suffer from plantar fascitis in my left foot only.I also have wide feet.Can I buy shoes online or should I only buy after being fitted in person?

Thirdly...I'm worried about making a fool of myself.I know already I will be the biggest person in the class.Do you think the others will laugh at me?

Fourthly-and this is purely a speculative question-IF I were to lose enough weight, and progress in ballet technique and strength,do you think there's a small chance I might one day try dancing on pointe?I don't have any obvious problems with my feet-no bunions.My big toe is longer than the rest but not excessively so.I know this is all very far in the future...but all things being equal-is there any chance at all?

 

ETA thank you in advance for reading :)

Edited by polishrose
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Hi Polishrose, a warm welcome to the forum. There are several threads about adults learning ballet which may be of some help to you.

 

I will link to them in a minute. We have quite a few adult ballet students here and I'm sure they will be able to help with your questions. In the meantime, do have a read through the other threads in case any of your questions are covered there.

 

Kind regards, Spanner.

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I just wanted to say I think it's lovely that you are keen to get to class and don't feel any negativity a good teacher will welcome you and make you feel comfortable and I can't believe an adult class would contain people who would laugh, most of them will be absorbed and focused in what they are doing. You will be fine in a split sole shoe which is comfy though a full sole will be more strengthening. You can order them online though if you don't want the hassle of ending up with the wrong size you may be better seeking some from a local shop or the teacher of your class will have a good idea where to go. Pointe work will be at the discretion of the teacher, I've known adults try but realise they are limited to barre work and very little centre work and not get any joy from it but I don't think there is harm in having it as a goal and as I say your teacher would be the one to guide you. Enjoy yr classes :)

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Hello and welcome! I think you should give it a try, I can't imagine anyone will laugh at you, certainly not in any of the classes I've been to. I have danced with a larger lady before, there were definitely no derogatory comments etc made. Honestly, I do think her size made some things more difficult but whether it's injury, advancing age or something else a lot of adults have some hurdles to jump! In response to your questions;

 

I would try the beginners class if you can't remember much ballet and have had a long break. If you stopped at 9 presumably you won't have done any of the higher grades and the 'general' classes are often pitched at around grade 5- intermediate type level and most of the dancers will probably have had recent ballet experience. You can always switch classes if you find the beginners class too easy.

 

Leotards/ tights usually only go up to about a size 14 or 16, not sure if bigger ones are available. Personally, I would just wear leggings and tshirt or similar until you know you enjoy the class.

 

I don't think it really matters whether full/ split sole personally, perhaps try on both? If you also have wide feet it may be best to go somewhere and try some different styles on. If you don't want to do that a lot of the online companies allow you to return items, perhaps order a selection! You may find boys shoes more comfy if your feet are wide.

 

I'm not sure about pointe work, it would depend on a lot of factors which are probably best assessed by your teacher.

 

Good luck x

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Can`t offer any info i`m afraid. I am also very very overweight and an ex professional dancer,from many moons ago.Been meaning to start adult ballet lessons myself but have been putting it off. Anyway welcome to the forum.!

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I would say to any adult wanting to try ballet to wear what they feel comfortable in initially until they are sure they want to invest in additional clothing. It is a good idea to buy a pair of ballet shoes just for safety purposes but you can get these on many dance websites like dance direct, just ballet, porselli etc. I would say go for a split sole canvas pair of shoes which should be a snug fit. Some come with pre sewn elastics which makes it easier if you are unsure where to sew them.

Speak to the teacher or contact them in advance of the class and I am sure they will be supportive of you starting. Sometimes you have to go to the same class a few times or try a few different classes until you find one which feels right for you.

Hope you enjoy:)

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Agree with all of the above! As an adult dancer of the same age, I can confirm we have different ladies trying our class from time to time. All sizes and abilities and all just as welcome :)

 

I second leggings and tshirt to start, tight fitting leggings help the teacher to see where your knees are in relation to feet and turnout, but a tshirt makes us all feel less self conscious!

 

Ballet shoes are a good idea and a relatively small investment at around £10. If buying online it's worth drawing around your foot and measuring the length and phoning up to check size, as they don't always run with normal shoe sizes.

 

Most of all, welcome to the forum and welcome to adult ballet!!

Sx

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Definitely go for a beginners class first if you are not that fit......you can progress to a more advanced class as you start to feel more confident etc.

 

I don't know where you live but if you have wide feet so far I have found the Bloch split soles size D (their largest) very good. Unfortunately their full sole shoes don't seem to come up so wide but the split ones are great.

I do have a pair of Freeds full sole but to,get the width I had to go to a mans shoe which start at size 8 (I'm a 7 or 71/2 ) but still have too much shoe at the end so have switched to Blochs.

 

If you were to stick at the ballet classes for at least two years and perhaps lose a little weight you could do some beginners pointe work classes I'm sure.

Good luck with trying to find a larger size leotard!! In the ballet world size 14 is extra large......so the largest you are likely to get unless you have one especially made. I'd go for leggings and t.shirt too initially.

Hope you make it back :)

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Thank you all :) Having had several of my daughters do ballet I am well practiced in sewing on elastics and ribbons :D My daughter has decided to buy me ballet shoes as a birthday present(my birthday is in April) so we can get them fitted properly and then subsequent pairs can be bought online.I am going to try the beginners class on Tuesday-there is an all abilities class straight after so if the teacher decides the beginners is too easy despite having given up such a long time ago, I can try that one.I suspect I will be doing beginners though :) I'd rather get it right from the beginning.

I have many tshirts but no leggings-that's on my shopping list for tomorrow.I did actually find a lovely website with plus size leotards and tights  but in America so have decided to try it for a month and see how it goes and if I enjoy it I will order from there. 

Can any of you recommend any gentle exercises I can do at home?Not ballet obviously as I don't want to get it wrong, but maybe something for flexibility?

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Yes definitely try Darcey Bussells Pilates for life DVD, very user friendly and there is a short programme and a long one. The Pilates will help strengthen your core and increase joint mobility and lung capacity. No doubt there are other Pilates DVDs but I quite like that one it is fairly cheap from play.com or amazon :)

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Hi Polishrose

 

If you are looking for Pilates based exercises, then please check out “Body Balance”, it’s a combination of Pilates, Yoga and Tia Chi.

 

I certainly use it as conditioning for ballet, although I’m probably the only one in my Body Balance class doing ballet. Our Instructor demonstrates three different levels for some of the movements, most do level one. Similarly I tend to modify some slightly towards ballet, such as tree pose to a retire. Most of my foot extensions are to a pointed foot, where everyone else tends to have there feet somewhat flexed, but my instructor does know of my involvement with ballet. It will certainly increase your core strength, improve your balance and open up your hips for improved turnout. Check out this link:

 

http://w3.lesmills.com/global/en/classes/bodybalance/about-bodybalance/

 

 

As for leotards, Dance Direct do stock XXL in black only, I’m certainly interested in the US site you have found as we have a number of big ladies at one of my classes, that class also performs on stage once a year, one of those ladies has been performing there for the last 17 years.

 

I agree with the others comment about not worrying about going in a leotard, the only important thing is ballet slipper, my feet are wide so I have Bloch leather Split sole pink ballet slippers width “C”.

 

As for pointe work, you will need to see your teacher as you can’t do pointe work on your own, it really is too dangerous. Firstly when she thinks you are ready she may well set you on a program of foot strengthening exercises in normal ballet slippers first. I have just started pointe work myself and was doing pointe work at tonight’s class. Also you will need to get your pointe shoes properly fitted, its not something you should buy on line.

Edited by Michelle_Richer
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Thank you-I will check out the bodybalance :) 

I need an even bigger leotard than xxl(I would need xxxl).This is where I found them http://www.riversedgedancewear.com/womplussizda.html

 

I managed to get some black leggings and ballet socks for tomorrow.My daughter bought my ballet shoes-we tried the split sole but they were a little too narrow, so went for full sole leather Bloch 6.5 width D.They are perfect width but a tad too long but I know my feet will change shape as I lose weight.(they always do)

 

I wouldn't dream of trying pointe work alone.:) My daughter just got her first pair today and was fitted at the same time as me-the lady at the shop really knows her stuff :)

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A little belatedly, welcome to the forum, polishrose.

 

I don't know where you live but if you have wide feet so far I have found the Bloch split soles size D (their largest) very good. Unfortunately their full sole shoes don't seem to come up so wide but the split ones are great.
I do have a pair of Freeds full sole but to,get the width I had to go to a mans shoe which start at size 8 (I'm a 7 or 71/2 ) but still have too much shoe at the end so have switched to Blochs.

 

I agree totally about the Bloch split soles - I too have horribly wide feet, and have to go for men's shoes because I can't find any women's ones which are large enough.  (I can't say how comforting it is to find I'm not the only one in this position!).  I think my reason initially for going for split soles was because I felt way too conscious of that HUGE strip of suede under my foot - never felt I could get the whole foot on the floor properly.  But I also find the Blochs are nicely padded at the heel - I don't get that horrible painful cracking in my heels that I used to previously.

 

And yes, I'd agree on leaving out the fancier accoutrements until you're sure you want to continue with this.  I'm still doing class in leggings and a T-shirt :)

 

All the best for your class,

Alison

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Hi Polishrose

 

Thank you for the link, I will pass it on to one of my teachers who is trying to source larger outfits for our next summer show.

 

You must tell us how you got on at your class tonight, many of us have been there, so we do know what it like.

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Have a great time Polishrose!!

 

 

Alison I'm also glad I'm not the only one who has to wear men's shoes occasionally!

If only my feet were just a little longer they would be absolutely fine but there is too much shoe at the toes which gets irritating after a while.

I'm happy with the split sole Blochs now and they have lasted a whole lot longer than I anticipated!!

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I am back!!I survived LOL. It was great fun but soooo hard.I don't remember any of the positions apart from the feet and none of the moves.It was so hard to follow the exercises but I know that will improve.I was sweating all over by the end of it.There's a basic beginners class on Mondays so I might go to that as well just to get some practice with the moves.I did like it, though I tried not to look in the mirror too much...I wasn't the oldest one there but I was the biggest.There is a man there too in his 30's possibly.The teacher was really nice.Definitely going to go back.We did plies(I didn't the grande plies),tendus,rond de jambes,releve,retire,grande battements,frappes,fondus and developpes en devant.Did a bit of a sequence near the end which I really couldn't grasp-the balances were hard and the releves in 5th I couldn't get right as I wobbled too much.We did preparation for pirouettes and then actual pirouettes-I just did the preparation twice as there was no way I could do a turn LOL.Oh we also did glisses and chassees in the sequence.Transference of weigh at the barre and in the centre.Oh and a weird turn called demi de tournee which I couldn't do.And assemble soutenou however that's spelt.Phew. A lot to remember!My heel was OK-a little sore but no worse than walking,My right knee hurt a bit in 5th so I need to stretch that,It's just stiff and because my calves are quite big the teacher advised me to do the positions slightly open so as not to strain the knee. That's about it I think.:)

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Glad you enjoyed it.

Three years ago now( has flown by) when I went back after 20 years I didn't do full plies except in second for about 6 months!!

 

I also couldn't do releves without getting cramp for quite a while before this eased.

Also I was so exhausted after the very first class I had to go and sit in a coffee bar for an hour afterwards!

 

Just doing eight jumps in first nearly killed me!

 

Luckily things have improved ........but take it slowly you don't want to get injured which it us easy to do if not that fit and a bit too over enthusiastic!!

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I am back!!I survived LOL. It was great fun but soooo hard.I don't remember any of the positions apart from the feet and none of the moves.It was so hard to follow the exercises but I know that will improve.I was sweating all over by the end of it.There's a basic beginners class on Mondays so I might go to that as well just to get some practice with the moves.I did like it, though I tried not to look in the mirror too much...I wasn't the oldest one there but I was the biggest.There is a man there too in his 30's possibly.The teacher was really nice.Definitely going to go back.We did plies(I didn't the grande plies),tendus,rond de jambes,releve,retire,grande battements,frappes,fondus and developpes en devant.Did a bit of a sequence near the end which I really couldn't grasp-the balances were hard and the releves in 5th I couldn't get right as I wobbled too much.We did preparation for pirouettes and then actual pirouettes-I just did the preparation twice as there was no way I could do a turn LOL.Oh we also did glisses and chassees in the sequence.Transference of weigh at the barre and in the centre.Oh and a weird turn called demi de tournee which I couldn't do.And assemble soutenou however that's spelt.Phew. A lot to remember!My heel was OK-a little sore but no worse than walking,My right knee hurt a bit in 5th so I need to stretch that,It's just stiff and because my calves are quite big the teacher advised me to do the positions slightly open so as not to strain the knee. That's about it I think. :)

 

Sounds to me that you did quite a lot!  You should be very happy with yourself.  I would suggest, especially if the calves are large and your knee is a bit sore, that you avoid grand pliés in every position except 2nd.  The leg achieves full stretch of the muscles and tendons in demi-plié and there is no real advantage to going further.  Grand pliés are very hard on the knees. To make it fit with the music just do the demi-plié twice.

 

I like the idea that instead of doing the actual rotation of the  pirouette you did the preparation again - that's very thoughtful.  It's important when you are an adult, especially not having danced before or for a long while - that you think about what works for you at any particular time.  Don't hesitate to make it work for you - a good teacher will understand.

 

Congratulations and enjoy!

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