ballet class featured image

An Adult Ballet Class Walkthrough

Hello everyone! Today I wanted to walk you through what happens in an adult ballet class!

ballet class featured image

I was stumped for post ideas for today, I really was! But then I got thinking about a conversation I had with a new coworker when she asked me what I did for fun and I had mentioned ballet. Like a lot of other people, she thought that was cool and it got me thinking back to the days before I started taking classes. I was soooo nervous because I didn’t know what to expect! I would take to Google to look up what a class might be like but I had a hard time finding stuff. Well, I also had a hard time finding a class to begin with so I’ll also cover that as well as what you need and such.

Hopefully someone finds this interesting or helpful!

How to find an adult ballet class

So I suppose I should start with how to find an adult ballet class for you to take! I’ll admit, it can be tough depending on so many factors. For one, it’ll be a lot easier to find a class if you’re in a city because there’s more dance studios around to offer them. I live out in the suburbs in the Chicagoland area so while I could find classes in the city, I wanted something closer to home.

I started my search by looking up dance studios around me. I found a few and so then from there I went to their websites to see if they offered any adult classes to begin with. Not all of them did, so those I would remove from my list immediately. For those that did, I would check what kind of adult dance classes they offered. Usually it wasn’t actual dance classes but rather pilates or zumba or other mostly fitness classes. Sometimes there would be a barre class but that’s not quite the same. Sometimes I’d find some that did offer adult ballet but it was in the middle of the day, so I couldn’t attend as I have work. That was a bummer but I just moved on!

Now, once you do find a dance studio with adult ballet classes you should keep looking. Dance studios tend to be more expensive in my experience and so you could find something more budget friendly if that’s what you’re looking for. I haven’t taken a class in an actual dance studio and the one time I stopped in for more information because the website wasn’t that great and it was on the way home the receptionist was kind of snobby so just make sure you take advantage of the “drop in” class. Most dance studios I looked at offered that and you can test out the class to see if it’s a place you’d even want to take classes at.

Since studios didn’t work out for me, I checked local community colleges. I first took ballet at my own college in undergrad but I wanted a much more budget friendly option and community colleges seemed like a potentially good idea. I knew I’d likely run into schedule issues though or course requirements such as intro classes. I did find one but it didn’t work for me in terms of schedule and it was at a campus farther than I wanted. However there was a wide range of dance classes and because it was a college it was all for adults anyway! If you have a more flexible schedule and a campus nearby, this could be a great option too. Not just for dance but for so many things!

The last place I really looked at was park districts and fitness centers. Success! I found a park district near me (not my district but close to me) that offered dance classes and peeking at their adult classes I finally found adult ballet. Finally! It worked with my schedule, was affordable, and so I signed up! I did have to pay a little more because I was out of the district but it was still a fraction of what the snobby dance studio charged so I was thrilled. Remember to check catalogues for all seasons though. The park district typically didn’t offer the adult class except in the summer. Now they added a fall session because they do get good turnout (haha, get it?) so even if they don’t offer it right away remember to check back when the season registration starts up again and you’ll likely see it! If the class gets to be popular enough then it’ll likely be added for other seasons or you could just ask for them to consider it.

Adult ballet classes were probably the only adult classes I could find in terms of actual dance classes. I found a ton of zumba or pilates but not a ton of adult hip hop or tap for example. Again, if you’re in a city you’re more likely to find whatever you want but I found that very interesting!

What you need for an adult ballet class

Now, you might immediately picture tiny little girls with their pink leotards, tights, tutus, and ballet slippers. If you’re like me where you’re more, ahem, chunky you don’t need to fear! Those dress codes are for the children to follow but as an adult in a non-professional ballet class you’ll be able to wear work out clothes no problem! You’ll want to check the dress code anyway just for fun but adult ballet classes really won’t require anything except a request not to wear clothing that’s too loose. The reason for that is because the instructor wants to see what you’re doing to make corrections. Yes, it’s not about being a professional but sometimes you might be doing something that could lead to injury so it’s important that your instructor can see what your body is doing and correct it before you get hurt. That’s really the only thing and it’s a really good reason! You can of course wear leotards and tights if that’s what you want, and I take classes with people who do, but for the most part it’s leggings and a form fitting top (actual top and remember, you’ll be lifting your arms). Just make sure you’re comfortable and you’ll be fine.

For shoes, you don’t even need ballet slippers. Most people in the classes do get the ballet shoes because, well, you’re excited for ballet! I dance in ballet slippers and really enjoy it. I started in leather shoes with a full sole but have since switched to canvas split-sole shoes and enjoy those a lot more but you can get whatever you want. Again, you’ll want to check the dress code because I have seen recommended shoes or even “not recommended” shoes (*cough* Payless *cough* for a reason *cough*) so that’s a good place to start. If possible, go to a dance store and try them on instead of ordering online because sizing does vary and is different than street shoes. Instead of slippers you can use jazz shoes if you want more support or some people do have those dance “half sole” lyrical shoes. I would say those are the least common but you do you!

The only other thing I can think of is hair. Generally children are required to put their hair in a bun but adults can get away with a ponytail. Just beware when you’re turning it’ll whip you in the face!

The adult ballet class walkthrough

Now, I’ll walk you through the basics of class. It will likely vary depending on the skill level of the class as a whole (you’ll get anywhere from beginner to advance but still get a ton out of it no matter what) and the instructor but the basics will all be there.

Make sure you arrive early to class. Not super early, but don’t be late. It’s just respectful and when late arrivals come in then it’s distracting. Of course, we’re all adults and life happens so if you are late by a few minutes that’s fine but don’t make it a habit. Once you arrive then just get your shoes on, find a spot at the barre, and start stretching. If it’s the first class, everyone will naturally start chatting and the instructor will start to get to know everyone’s names and ask for dancing background so they can get a feel for what to do in class. No matter what level, they’ll already have an idea of what they want to do and will adjust as necessary.

The instructor will then start with the barre portion of class. Barre is pretty much the warm up and you’ll be given combinations to do at the barre. You’ll typically start with the right side and then switch to the left before moving on to the next combination. I don’t know how to do accents on my laptop too well but it’ll include piles, tendus, and so on. You can ask your instructor to repeat anything you need.

After that, you’ll go to the center and continue doing some combinations. They’ll continue to progress and build on each other. You’ll also be doing stuff you’ve been doing at the barre, so it’s important that you’re not relying too much on the barre when you’re starting class so you get used to doing it without that support. Depending on the instructor you’ll focus on different things. For example, the instructor I have for the summer does our center work mostly lying down but my autumn instructor focuses more on arms, core, and balance at the center. The summer instructor will have us doing proper arm work at the barre but the fall instructor will have everyone keep their arms up in fifth for entire combinations to work on strengthening arms. It just depends and that’s why it’s good to take classes with different instructors from time to time. For my fall class we are learning a dance so we’ll run through it a few times during this portion of class too.

Eventually you’ll get to the “across the floor” portion of the class. The instructor will tell you what to do and then off you go! Depending on the size of the class you might be going in small groups or individual. Again, you start doing it to the right and then to the left before moving onto the next thing. If you don’t get it right away the instructor will stop you, give you pointers, and then you can try again. It’s not a bad thing because you get to learn and often I’ve seen dancers stop in the middle of the room, get their pointers, and insist on going back to try again because they want to learn to do it right, which is perfectly acceptable. Everyone is very supportive of each other too so there is never anything to worry about if you do something wrong because everyone will get corrections at some point and it’s just about learning how to adjust what you’re doing.

That might be where class ends, but again, it can vary. For example, my summer class ends with the floor combinations but my fall class has a short conditioning portion at the end. It’s more stretching and core exercises to build some strength and improve turn out. I really like this part of class and I do like that it’s more fitness focused. That’s just my preference though!


Now for some last random tidbits!

Adult classes can be very casual but remember to be respectful in terms of not talking when the instructor is showing combinations and such. It’s not so strict as children’s classes but it is still important to show respect to the instructor and the other dancers in the room.

If you don’t understand something, just ask! Many adult dancers may not have done ballet before or haven’t for awhile so it’s understandable that there will be questions. Just speak up and ask to see it again or ask what you’re confused on and the instructor will be happy to help out.

When the instructor is explaining the steps you can “mark” them alongside them. I used to worry they might get annoyed that people aren’t paying attention but it’s just the opposite. They want you to mark it to show you are paying attention and trying to remember the combination. It’s very helpful to mark the steps in order to learn the combination, plus then you get better at learning them quickly too.

When you’re at the barre, turn into the barre, not away from it. It’s one of those things that shows respect, and it’s not necessarily something you’re taught unless the instructor catches you doing it wrong!

Remember to aware of the space around you so you don’t accidentally run into or kick a fellow dancer. When you’re doing center work or going across the floor in groups you want to make sure you’re not blocking anyone from the mirror so they can see themselves even if they are in the back.

If you want to bring water with you, usually you can! Normally you can’t bring anything besides water to stay hydrated with in terms of beverages. You can check the rules for where you are taking classes but typically water is all you can bring to drink. I prefer to bring water and keep it to the side during class so I can get a drink in between portions of the class.

Lastly, have fun! If it’s your first class (ever or in awhile) you’re likely to be nervous and excited but don’t forget that you’re there to enjoy yourself. Dance is hard but super fun and it’s important to have a great time while in class.

I hope this post helped you if you’re looking for an adult ballet class, wondering what you need for class, and want to know what to expect for class. It’s hard to be 100% prepared because every class is slightly different but just remember that the instructor will guide you through it all and is there to help you in your dance journey. Let me know if this was helpful as I’m really curious!

Thanks for reading!


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