Most of us have a pretty good idea of what it means to have the Learning Switch turned on or off. It is an actual change in the way your brain is working. You become more alert and you find yourself interested, suddenly grasping what you couldn’t understand before or being able to do something you couldn’t do before. - Anat Baniel (student of Moshé Feldenkrais) in “Kids Beyond Limits”
The ability to ‘learn how to learn’ is a big advantage you have as an adult. It means that you don’t always have to wait until you stumble upon success, but you can direct your efforts consciously and in a smart way - thus speeding up your learning process and get more easily through plateaus and frustrations.
There is once concept that I found quite profound in this regard. Read More
Ballet can be so incredibly intimidating.
Especially when you start out as an adult. You have to not only learn the technical and artistic side of it - but also sort of “decode” the whole ballet party. Like: Knowing class etiquette. How to stand in pictures. What to wear. How to have conversations. Not to clap between groups during exercises. And so on. Being late to the party means you’re breaking into this whole world of rituals, traditions, manners, conventions, old networks and relationships. You’re basically learning a new language (even literally). Read More
The front split is probably one of the most desired milestones for adult ballet dancers.
And there are probably just as many opinions and stretching recommendations for it as there are ballet websites on the Internet.
So here is to one more!
Basically, I want to add to add to the richness of split knowledge from the perspective of someone who:
started ballet at age 37, and not very flexible
was not born flexible, nor flexible as a child - and I never did any siginificant, deep stretching until my late thirties
Learning something new as an adult can often feel like you are just not smart/talented/coordinated enough to ‘get it’. Especially with something perfectionist like ballet, it can feel like only a few naturally graceful adults can expect results (those who won the genetic lottery, or who did gymnastics or figure skating as a child), while the rest of us has to settle for some sort of 50% version of it.
Alright, if you have followed my blog for a bit, then you know that I won’t give you the pleasure of indulging in this pre-neuroplasticity point of view. Hate to break the news - but we ALL are selected! Read More
For us late party ballet dancers, it’s easy to let ballet be pushed to the side when the going gets tough.
You may have a demanding job*, a bunch of kids to take care of, or a slightly possessive boyfriend. Maybe you do volunteer work on top of it, and then there is always a full email inbox to work through. Or you are possibly buying/building a new house, or going through a custody battle at court. You name it. Read More
One of my core drivers for this blog is the fact that adults simply learn differently than children. And while we all have great and dedicated teachers, most of them are so good because they learned ballet as a child and had a career as a professional dancer. And that’s great. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I am grateful for teachers who have been dancing for a long time and have a solid amount of stage experience.
The other side of that experience is that these teachers haven’t lived through the feeling and challenges of starting ballet later in life. Read More
How the heck do you define and explain neuroplasticity?
I keep trying, but I am not at a version that makes me fully happy. Even experts remain a bit vague. It really IS a hard-to-come-by term - but also one of the currently hottest topics in neuroscience, rehab, and education.
So let’s try anyway. I’ll give you a bit of history-in-a-nutshell first: Until a few decades ago, science believed that once you are done with being a child, your brain is essentially fixed like concrete. Read More
Compared to many other activities, starting ballet as an adult, especially past 35, is kind of a funny thing. It’s almost like breaking into holy territory - that is usually reserved for 9-year-old-on-pointe prodigies, flawless professionals, and the somewhat mature ex-dancers who still look like perfection (killing it in your casual drop-in class).
So first of all - I applaud you and all of us, for breaking into that territory! It takes guts, perseverance, and a certain amount of devoted self-tolerance. Read More
It’s interesting how much of a big deal it is to start ballet later in life. More than in any other sports and activities, I find.
Mostly, the challenge of learning ballet as an adult is ascribed to physical abilities (or lack of them) and what kind of body you bring to the party. Adult bodies are seen as not as pliable, so that gets the blame for why adults can’t achieve as much or progress as fast when it comes to ballet. For some, this might be in the way of getting even started. Read More