From A New York Times article by Dorie Chevlen on August 30, 2023
Link (requires subscription): https://www.nytimes.com/2023/08/30/well/move/ballet-workout-aging.html
Here is full version of the article in PDF.
Ballet is a great workout for an aging body
Forget dusty tutus and strict ballet mistresses. Today’s ballet for older adults is about finding joy, improving balance, and embracing the beauty of your moving body, no matter your age or experience.
Join the “Silver Swans” movement like Diane Kravif, 75, who found her love for ballet later in life. Classes like Golden Swans and Boomer Ballet are popping up everywhere, making ballet accessible and inclusive for all.
Forget balance concerns! Studies show ballet’s focus on single-leg work and weight shifts is a gold mine for improving this crucial skill, directly linked to longevity and quality of life. Dr. Madeleine Hackney adds, “I don’t know many disciplines that train the lower limb the way ballet does.”
But ballet isn’t just about strong legs. It’s a full-body workout that challenges your core, flexibility, and even your brain. Remember those complex dance sequences? They keep your mind sharp and agile, reducing dementia risk by 76% according to a 21-year study!
Worried about feeling out of place? Jane Howard-Martin, 65, a lawyer who returned to ballet after 40 years, reassures you’re not alone. Many programs, like Align Ballet, prioritize comfort and inclusivity over leotards and strict technique. Michael Cornell, Align’s founder, emphasizes, “We’ve been trying to remove that toxicity from the ballet class, to be open, inclusive, supportive, diverse.”
Don’t let physical limitations hold you back either. Instructors like Ronald Alexander at the Ailey Extension adapt exercises for any body: “If you have injuries, you have a knee issue, a foot issue, an ankle issue — we can work with this.”
The hardest part? Embracing imperfection, as actor Joe Seely, 60, confesses: “The hard part was accepting the fact that I was going to fail over and over and over and over.” But once you let go of perfectionism, magic happens. Diane sums it up beautifully: “Taking adult beginning ballet, I’m not particularly good at it and I don’t think I ever will be. But…it makes me so profoundly happy.”
So, ditch the preconceptions and step into the studio. You might just surprise yourself with the grace and strength you discover, both in your body and your spirit.