by Jessica Wilson
Having seen a huge influx of dance and the performing arts in the media over the past few years – think Andrew Lloyd Webber’s search for his next big hits, Dancing with the Stars, and Black Swan – the number of adults indulging in ballet classes has increased profoundly. A survey conducted by YouGov in 2011 in the prelude to the Dance Proms at the Royal Albert Hall found that just over 1 in 5 British adults have become interested in dancing as a result of shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and So You Think You Can Dance, not considering those throughout the rest of the world. It seems the ballet bug is here to stay, having turned a fad into a trend!
The appeal of ballet runs far and wide, and today seems to have taken on a more of a popular culture persona as more people are becoming aware of ballet and its benefits. Pirouetting against the stereotype, ballet does not have to be girly and strictly disciplined; there are a huge variety of ballet and dance class choices in the exercise world today, meaning that there is an option for everyone. No sooner had gym culture taken over our lives, dance cults began to make an appearance, such as Zumba, reinforcing the notion that engaging in physical activity does not have to involve a treadmill.
Not only does ballet engage and stimulate the mind, it also provides participants with an environment which is of alternative appeal. Tapping into your artistic side really does have its benefits, for adults as well as children!
The Royal Academy of Dance teachers of London have affectionately referred to this recent ballet trend as “Black Swan Syndrome” – despite such dark inferences throughout the film – considering the number of adults they have seen sign up for ballet classes in the wake of the blockbuster movie. Some may argue that the increasing commercialisation of dance may cause it to lose its intrinsic artistic value, yet if the combination of the media with promotion of dance is able to entice more adults to dance in such a profound way, something must be right! Indeed there has been a significant increase of dance-related films that have emerged over the past few years, in addition to screenings of dance performances in numerous cinemas, putting dance well and truly on the map.
There is an increasingly clear market for adult ballet; specifically at the RAD, a diploma qualification in adult ballet practice is being developed as part of the Continuing Professional Development scheme for teaching members. Adult ballet is fast moving past its trending stages and is now being considered seriously as both an art form and a form of exercise.
Ballet is a precise art, and when performed properly it should not cause pain or injury, demonstrating that it is still completely rewarding and enjoyable to begin taking ballet classes at any time throughout your life. Additionally, English National Ballet is renowned for holding Adult Ballet classes at a variety of levels run by dancers of the company. Not only does ENB provide a creative and encouraging atmosphere in which to learn, the dancers themselves are still training which adds clear parallels between the company and outside ballet students.
Switching off from desk-bound daily lives can be difficult, especially to then take part in an activity in which many adults may feel uncomfortable or self-conscious. However, there are such considerable benefits of taking up ballet as an adult, as it becomes more than a just a hobby or a keep-fit regime. To enjoy a past time with like-minded individuals can be all it takes to incite a fully fledged love for the art of dance.
Assistant Editor Jessica Wilson is a final year student at Middlesex university in London, studying Dance Performance. Jessica reviews London shows for the Society of London Theatre’s initiative for 16-25 year olds, TheatreFix, writes features for A Younger Theatre and blogs for Cloud Dance Festival, with additional press responsibilities. She has completed many marketing internships, the most recent at English National Ballet.
Jessica has also previously interned for SOLT, East London Dance and the ISTD dance examination board. Jessica is a National Youth Dance Ambassador for Youth Dance England, focusing on young people’s access to dance. She is extremely passionate about opportunites for young people enabling them to succeed and hopes to continue advocating this in the future through a variety of means.