My name is Bethany, and I was an active adult dancer for 10 years. I performed in multiple productions and taught ballet for seven years.
My mother put me in dance classes as a small child at our neighborhood recreation center. Honestly, I was a lot more interested in gymnastics. At 14, I discovered a newfound love for ballet. My parents arranged to take me to class once a week, but I did all the grunt work: I used our thick yellow phone book to look up all the dance schools in our area, I made cold-calls asking for prices and brochures, and I finally landed on a studio that worked best for our schedule at the time.
I was excited, but I was also out of place. Everyone my age was in a higher level. Yet, I was so eager to learn, I let the studio place me in a class with nine year-olds. I stood out like a sore thumb, but I didn’t care.
Unfortunately, that first studio I attended left much to be desired. After that year, I searched for more professional training and found a very reputable school. It was both intimidating and magnificent. I had never been more inspired in my life. But again, when I first arrived, I was out of place. The other girls were good. They had years of experience under their belt and were part of the school’s pre-professional company. I always aspired to be like them, but at the time, I was grateful to be put in a different kind of class: Teen Class; a class dedicated to teen students who had little to no experience. I applied myself, I thrived, and I moved into apprentice level.
Throughout high school, I soaked up anything and everything ballet. I devoured books in the school and public library, I researched companies, and I watched hours of dance films. I was addicted. I soon realized that I wanted to teach one day.
I was awarded a two-year scholarship to community college and didn’t pay a cent. I took 3-5 ballet classes a week, and participated in all of their dance productions. I was thrilled. I progressed to dancing on pointe, even performing on pointe, which is no small feat for an adult dancer. After I graduated, I went on to teach for a few studios.
In my mid-twenties, I was offered a journalism scholarship to one of the best universities in Texas. I turned it down. Instead, I used a portion of my savings to travel and experience my field first hand. I went to Seattle, New Orleans, Chicago, Austin, New York, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. I started my own blog, and interviewed world-class dancers, saw some of my favorite ballet companies live, and wrote a book about visual and performing artists.
In the last four years, I had the most fulfilling career of all. I returned to the neighborhood recreation center where I took my very first ballet class as a child to teach. I arrived with a passionate mission to bring ballet to a broader community. I was all too aware of the elitism and stereotypes associated with the ballet world, and I wanted to break that barrier by making the art form more accessible and affordable.
What does my story mean for you? You can become a successful adult dancer. Whether your goal is to dedicate yourself to becoming advanced, or if you simply want to do something good for yourself physically and emotionally, ballet is not just for youths. As adults, you can experience greater appreciation and benefits because of your maturity. So if you’ve been considering trying ballet, or if you’re returning from a hiatus, welcome. I encourage you to explore this amazing art form and I hope it finds a special place in your life.