Kiara’s Five Tips for Adult Beginner Ballet
#1 Be Kind to Yourself
Let’s get one thing straight—ballet does not bring instant results. Even as a MFA graduate student with 25 years experience, I still catch myself wanting overnight success. But ballet doesn’t work like that. In fact, if ballet has taught me anything, it’s that it takes constant perseverance to overcome frustration. One thing that makes this easier is if you are compassionate and easy with yourself. In class and in life, it is generally better to turn off your inner critic when it speaks up. Ballet is best appreciated when it’s given seriousness and consistency, but also joy and lightheartedness. So don’t be tough on yourself! In fact, the quicker you can brush yourself off and keep trying, the better your technique becomes.
- #2 Go to Class
This one I can’t stress enough. Class is the only place where you will develop as a dancer—there’s really no substitution for it. Class is where you learn, grow, try, succeed, fail, and hopefully feel happier and more alive because of it. When students ask me how to improve anything, whether it’s flexibility, coordination, stamina, or choreography, my answer is always the same: go to class. There’s a reason dancers are known for their discipline, and it’s because an ongoing commitment to class is fundamental to improvement. Here’s how I think of it, if I feel happy, sad, tired, bored, angry, inspired or unmotivated—there’s only one solution: class!
- #3 Do Bodywork
Second only to going to class is having a simple bodywork routine at home, and it doesn’t have to be much. Maybe rolling for 10-15 minutes before bed, stretching, and a five minute ab routine. That’s currently mine, but it changes depending on what’s going on. I also love baths with epsom salts, massages or saunas. If you make your body a priority it will work in harmony with you, day after day. After all, you only got one! So love it, stretch it, roll it, soak it and take care of it. And while you’re stretching on the floor—why not listen to some ballet music? Shubert, Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Handel are my go-tos.
- #4 Take Different Teachers
What I’ve found in studying ballet is that it’s like learning a language. Once you are at least conversational in it, the joy is finding new and interesting approaches to the same material. I know it’s easy to get into a routine, but I highly encourage shaking things up, because the beauty of dance lies in the individual interpretation. Learning from multiple teachers is crucial in order to grow as a dancer. I love that the Align Ballet Method instructors that are both masterful and diverse. I highly encourage Align dancers to experiment with all the teachers to gain new and worthwhile insight!
- #5 Get Inspired
- #5 Get Inspired
It’s easy to get disconnected from the magic of ballet if you don’t go to see it, or at least check out the wealth of amazing options of YouTube. (And also catch World Ballet Day every October!) Watching ballet not only improves your technique through visualization, it can inspire you on a deep level. I think it is important as adults to stay connected to that sense of inspiration and wonder. Also whenever I’m feeling discouraged about dance, basking in the beauty of it can really renew my love for the art. My favorite ballet dancers are Natalia Osipova, Sara Mearns or Sylvie Guillem. For a choreography fix, I love Jiri Kylian, Christopher Wheeldon or Crystal Pite.