Late Bloomers? How to do Well in an Adult Ballet Class

by Danielle Hernandez on December 13, 2018


Are you an adult starting ballet for the first time? We have some tips to share with the adult ballet student, so they know what to expect at their first ballet class. From dancewear to essential things you will need, we make sure your first ballet class is first of many more memorable ones to come!

Are you a newbie to ballet? Is your first ballet class as an adult is happening soon? If you have had a childhood full of ballet, you might be wondering why you ever stopped.

Either way, you must be wondering how much effort it would take to build your muscle strength for a demanding dance form like ballet. From an open-class shy newbie to an open-class debonair the journey is sure tricky, but not impossible. Before you start feeling that things aren't what they used to be, remember, your teacher knows that! Whether you have prior formal training, or you have never stepped into a ballet class, remember that it always takes time to get used to anything new.

It may just take a little longer for you compared to those leggy teenagers whose feet are already by their ears. Time for some reality check for you, the adult newbie-

1. Your Teenage Daughter’s Dancewear can’t Fit you!

Her leotards, tights, warm-ups, skirts, jazz shoes, you won't be able to fit in them, even if you both are of the same height, and these clothes are super stretchy, our body shapes keep changing, and our proportions keep shifting. Even if you and your daughter wear sneakers of the same size, her lovingly broken in elastic ballet shoes may not fit you the same way. You have to shop your stuff for your ballet class!

2. Buying Dancewear and Accessories is Fun!

Indulging in new dancewear will bring a spring in your step when you go out to dance. The most liberating thing about being an adult ballet dancewear is that you are free to wear pretty much whatever you like. In many classes, you won’t even need “dancewear” to dance. Fitted ballet shoes are the first non-negotiable investment that you need to make.

3. Don’t Expect too much on your First Day

Don’t expect too much on your first day

Where are your arches? Are you able to settle into your first plie combination? Sure, it’s your first day, and you can cambre forward and back, albeit not as far as a teenager! Ballet classes haven’t changed much in the last 40 years, you surely have! Why can’t your leg go any higher? Your body does feel sluggish, and turns get your head spinning. But rest assured this is all normal and expected. Get ready to welcome muscle soreness the day after as well!

4. Don’t feel Self-Conscious

It is natural for newbies to think that other people are watching you. Maybe some of the other students are only half your age, and you have a huge mirror for a wall, you are wearing a leotard for the first time. Focus your energies on practicing. Everyone is too busy watching themselves and fixing their imperfections, or they are watching the dance teacher who has an incredible extension, too mesmerized to check how you look! No one is judging you except you, yourself!

5. Conditioning is Important, and don’t Shy from a lot of Preparation and Massages-

Your feet will be crampy than younger dancers, and your body will be sore too. Recovery is slower for adults compared to youngsters. Make sure you massage your soles well. You need to ease your body into conditioning gradually. Your progress will be slow, but with regular practice and taking proper care, you can expect results soon!

6. Do your Homework Well

Gone are the days when you could single-mindedly focus on one thing. Your adult life is crammed with work, home, lists, kids, and so on. To make sure you understand everything that you are taught, you must be ready to keep your head clear. You should do your research, and not be afraid to ask the teacher. Try reading some good books on ballet too!

Dressing up for your First Ballet Class

Dressing up for your first ballet class

As a late starter, first of all, give a pat on the back that you have decided to learn ballet. You may or may not have been to a ballet class earlier. But even if you are returning after a considerable gap, or it’s your first time, be prepared for a lot of hard work. You will, over time, learn a dance form that will test your tenacity and discipline. As much as you should focus on what to do, you also need to learn what not to do!

Ballet is a fantastic dance form that not only tones you up to perfection but also beautifully integrates fashion and personal style. On your first day, don’t let your novice status hold you back.

Adult ballet classes rarely enforce a dress code. But it’s a good start if you make yourself comfortable in a leotard and leggings from the very first day itself.

You should wear tights or leggings to see and feel the true stretch and bend through the knees. Legwarmers should be used to keep the muscles warm and flexible during workouts.

So, what should you wear?

First of all, ask your ballet teacher on what she recommends. For example, leather soled shoes work better than the ones with canvas soles on some floors. It is always a good idea to check what others are wearing and seek recommendations from other dancers/ dance teacher. Some studios also have a dress code. Therefore, even if your teacher says “just wear whatever you are comfortable in” here is what they usually expect you to turn in.

  • Take care of your comfort
  • Remember that if you don’t feel comfortable in the dancewear you are supposed to get on, you won’t be able to dance as well as you truly can.
  • Just remember that you shouldn’t wear anything that is too tight or too loose.
  • Too loose, and your pants will hide the line of your leg, and the teacher can't see if your hips and knees are correctly positioned.
  • Loose, floppy clothes are also distracting, therefore, something semi-fitted and comfortable that allows full range of motions.

10 must-haves to get ready for your First Adult Ballet Class

There is no limit when it comes to looking and feeling your best! Here are top 10 things that you would need to have from day 1

1. Correct Footwear- Ballet Shoes are your best bet to invest in. Spend a little time and get the best fit for a brand new pair of ballet shoes. Your feet will work hard in ballet class, and you have a wide variety to choose from. Full –Sole, Split-Sole, leather soled or canvas, pick up the shoe that feels right, helps you in enhancing arches and avoid injuries.

ballet shoes

2. Comfortable Dancewear- Tops and bottoms- Buy a few form-fitting tops and stretchy bottoms for your first few sessions. Leotards and leggings can wait. However, make sure you have comfortable clothes with few trims to distract you or the other dancers. The clothes should neither be too tight nor too fitting and should help you in achieving full extensions.

Comfortable dancewear

3. Hair Accessories- Tame the flyaways! You don't want to look hassled and tangled in your tresses in your first class! Tie them up in a bun, and avoid too many pins and accessories.

Hair accessories

4. Water Bottle- Dancers need to stay hydrated. Glug in style from a range of water bottles available. Keeping yourself hydrated will ensure that you don’t get sore muscles the next day.

Water bottle

5. Conditioning and Stretching aids- Before you step in for your first ballet class; take time out for stretching your muscles with conditioning and technique accessories. Resistance bands, exercise bands, foam rollers, balance boards, and best of all massage rollers will help you recover faster, and put your best foot forward every time you step on to it.

Conditioning and stretching aids

6. Warm-ups & Knitwear- Staying warm is very important. Your muscles and joints will thank you for it! Keep yourself warm and limber during winter and long rehearsals with a wide range of warm-ups and knitwear.

Warm-ups & knitwear

7. Jewelry and Jewelry Boxes- You may be stepping into your ballet class straight from work. Trendy, fashionable jewelry that could help you sail through work, as well as ballet, would save a lot of time and hassle. These ballet themed pieces will also keep you motivated whenever you look yourself in the mirror and bring a smile on your face. The jewelry boxes for safekeeping your other parts will be a neat touch, too!

Jewelry and Jewelry Boxes

8. Leotards- If you want to get in the groove and feel like a ballerina, invest in a fantastic leotard with matching leggings set. Ballet is an excellent way to love and respect your body's uniqueness. You will be amazed to notice the difference you feel.


9. Pointe Shoe Accessories- Before long you will start on your Pointe, the ultimate aim of any ballet student. Invest in Pointe shoe accessories that will help you in achieving near perfect Pointe and protect your toes at the same time.

Pointe Shoe Accessories

10. Bags – To keep all your ballet dancewear, accessories, and gear, here some nice bags and storage options. Taking care of your dancewear is also your responsibility to make sure it lasts longer. Pick up a bag that defines your style, is handy, sturdy and keep everything snugly secured till your next ballet class!


While you try to discover the beauty of ballet, don't worry about the raised eyebrows, you must know that though adult ballet dancers are a unique, quirky breed, there are many people like you who are brought together by the love of a dance form and are more than happy to keep practicing. It doesn’t matter if you can achieve true mastery in your lifetime; at least you will be doing what you love- dancing!


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