All you need to know about dance as an adult beginner

2019-07-08

As human beings, we all have an innate instinct to dance. As soon as music comes on, something in us wants to get up and move. We can witness this all of the time- from traditional dances across all cultures, to little children, even clubbing is based on the idea that we like to dance. But dancing can also be a way to keep fit, whilst also being creative, mindful, intuitive, and gentle with ourselves and our bodies.

Classical ballet is often seen as something other-worldly and incredibly impressive, that takes years of blood sweat and tears to achieve. And if you’re dancing at a professional level, it’s true! But I’m here to tell you that ballet, and its sister genre contemporary/modern dance, can be easily accessible to anyone, and have a fantastic impact on your overall wellbeing. I am a professional-level classical and contemporary dancer, and at age 19 I am incredibly lucky to have found my passion in this field and be able to pursue it from such a young age. I began dancing as a little girl, and decided to train full-time in dance when I was 15 and haven’t looked back since. And although this may seem contradictory to what I just told you, training at such a high level and having the opportunity to travel for my work has shown me just how similar we all are in our experiences, and how ‘life’ and dance have many parallels no matter what your situation is.

Why I love dance:

I fell in love with dance as a way to tune in to myself and to figure out how my body worked. I learned how to strengthen my muscles, how to set meaningful goals, and achieve them. I learned that dance is more than just physical activity- it’s a creative career that allows you to discover more about yourself, and to be comfortable with sharing some of that authentic essence with others in the guise of art. The more you dance, the more you discover how to take care of your body. Another essential component of being a dancer is your mindset- you have to develop strong mental tools and an open mind to survive in this field- but I love this, as it has helped me grow and learn beyond what I even knew I could. As a natural extension of dancing, I have discovered I also have a passion for health and wellness, and have explored many other avenues including nutrition, anatomy and psychology that have holistically improved my overall wellbeing and helped me to become a stronger dancer. And this is what I hope dance can do for you too.

Why should I try a class?

If you have ever been curious about taking a contemporary or ballet class- I encourage you to give it a go. There is nothing to be lost from holding back when it comes to trying something new- and at the very least, you will get a good stretch! Adult and beginner dance classes are becoming increasingly popular, with most major dance companies all around the world holding classes in their beautiful studios with high-class teachers from the company. The benefits for taking class casually, even as a beginner, are immense. Dance improves co-ordination, creativity, flexibility, muscle strength, tone and endurance, self-confidence, mindfulness, perseverance- the list goes on. Much like yoga, the lessons you learn in a ballet or contemporary class (how to keep going when it’s hard, how to set achievable goals, learning to tune into your body) will transfer out of the studio and into your daily life. Taking dance class also opens you up to many other avenues that can complement your new hobby. Yoga and Pilates use both similar and opposing muscles to what you do in a ballet class, which helps you to become a stronger dancer overall. The philosophies behind them, such as mindfulness, are also complementary to dance and can benefit many other areas of your life.

About contemporary dance:

Most people are familiar with ballet, however contemporary or modern dance are sometimes less well-known. Contemporary dance is difficult to define, as there are so many facets, however I encourage you to give it a Google search and discover what it means to you. As a loose definition, as said by pioneer Merce Cunningham, it is dance where “an element itself is expressive; what it communicates is in large part determined by the observer themselves”. Contemporary dance classes will include a warm up to mobilise the joints, including basic endurance, strength and stretching. Other elements of the class will ask you to isolate parts of your body, move across the floor following a specific prompt, or create your own movements. What I love about contemporary dance is that you can be truly yourself, and move how you want in a way that feels natural to you.

How to get started, and what to expect:

To get started with ballet or contemporary classes, I recommend doing a Google search that says “adult ballet classes in (your city)”, or substituting ballet with contemporary if that sounds fun to you. Adding the word beginner in your search may also be useful. Most cities will have a studio that offers classes. Class prices range anywhere from $10-30 on average, so I recommend looking at a couple studios to see what may be in your price range. And don’t worry if you have no ‘dance clothes’ to wear- something tight fitting and socks is perfectly fine, similar to what you would wear if going to yoga, Pilates or even the gym. When attending a beginner class, I encourage you to let go of the feelings of nervousness and intimidation- everyone there is just like you! You’re all there to get fit, have fun, and try something new or different. Despite what media may portray to you, open dance classes offer a friendly, welcoming and supportive environment. All the teachers just want to see you enjoying yourself. So relax and have fun! Dance is a wonderful medium to begin exploring mindful movement, creativity and gentle fitness that supports your body. I hope you can discover the benefits of taking dance classes that go beyond the fitness element, and transfer into your health and wellbeing in all areas of your life.

Jacinta Horton

I am a professional dancer in the contemporary and classical industry, with an extensive full-time training background. As a dancer, looking after my body and achieving my personal goals related to dance is paramount. As such, I have developed a passion for health and wellness that has led me to dive deep into many fitness modalities (yoga, Pilates, HIIT, resistance and strength training) as well as nutrition, mindest strategies, and spirituality. I have a very holistic view of wellness, and I love to share this with anyone who is also working on their personal development. I am also studying a Bachelor of Exercise Science and Psychology to further my contribution and understanding in this field. We all have something to share and something to learn, and writing is a fantastic medium to do both of these things.

jacintahorton.com