Mhari talks about starting ballet as an adult, what age children should start and also shares the benefits and drawbacks of dance competitions.
What is the average career span of a professional dancer? – Lisa M., Boulder, Co.
In the United States, the average retirement age is in the early 40’s. Some professional companies contract their dancers to retire at 40. In Europe, it’s traditional for dancers to be transitioned into character roles, lengthening the dancers into the 50+ age range.
“Unless you die young, you don’t die a dancer” -Paul Sutherland
At what age should my child begin dance lessons? – Maura L., Phoenix, Az.
I recommend that they start as early as they are interested with an age and developmentally-appropriate form of dance. Personally, I began formal dance training at age five in modern dance classes and moved on to formal ballet training at age eight. I’ve always thought that taking modern first gave me a solid understanding of dance concepts. Today, creative movement is very popular and there is a greater awareness within the dance community of developmentally appropriate dance.
How would ballet benefit an adult beginner? – Kelly L., Walla Walla, Washington
There are many benefits to taking ballet as an adult:
- Improved balance
- Exposure to the French language
- Development of musicality, physical coordination, and strength
- A balanced sense of self in space
- Better appreciation of the art form
- Improved flexibility
- A stronger core
As a child, I took dance lessons, which I didn’t appreciate at the time. Now I’m over 60 and my friends and family think I should sit back and relax, but I want to dance again. Is it too late? – Tracey D., Ramsey, NJ
It’s never too late to dance. The heart of the dancer never dies. Now the rest of your body may not agree and there may be aches and pains in places that have been forgotten, but easing into it will help with that. There are many multi-generational dance classes and even performing opportunities now more than ever. More power to you!
My teen wants to get involved with a dance team and competitions. What are some of the benefits and drawbacks? – Cindy L., Marana, Az.
Dance competitions are a great learning opportunity. There’s the glory of being on stage, the satisfaction of a dancer doing his/her personal best. The constructive criticism and advice from the judges. There can also be a positive sense of camaraderie on a team with an encouraging coach. It’s a lot of work and requires dedication and sacrifice the team member must be willing to take. It’s also important to take classes regularly outside of the team environment. A dance team commitment can also be very costly with lessons, costumes, and competition fees. The competition environment is not for everyone and can be quite stressful. It’s imperative to employ self-care and keep a balance with activities. Good luck to your dancer!
– Mhari Wilson
Mhari Wilson is a member of a famous dancing family. The daughter of original Joffrey Ballet founding members Brunilda Ruiz and John W. Wilson and step-daughter to Paul Sutherland, she had the good fortune to grow up, tour and study with both the Robert Joffrey and Rebekah Harkness Ballet Companies.A professional dancer at 13, she also worked in eastern regional companies, as well as working as Gerald Arpino’s demonstration model for the City Center Joffrey Ballet in New York City and for Paul Sutherland at Ramapo College in New Jersey. A 2x nominee for the Idaho Governors Arts Award, a Boise Channel 7’s Hero, founding member of the Aspen Dance Connection and Boise’s Alley Repertory Theater; Ms. Wilson has been a teaching artist in Dance for over 40 years. She currently teaches at Eagle Performing Arts Center and for Very Special Arts/Idaho, specializing in classical ballet and developmental dance respectively. She is the author of the ‘Ballet-On-the-Go’ ballet glossary and reference guide as well as a dance-themed children’s book to be published in 2018.
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Last modified: August 13, 2017