As a studio owner, you probably hear one burning question each year during registration: “When is it too late to start dancing?” Because it’s such an important and prominent question in the dance industry, there are ample blog posts, forums and articles dedicated solely to the topic. The answer from experts and amateurs alike is that it’s never too late to start pursuing a passion for dance! That said, late starters should also have realistic expectations about how fast and far they can progress as dancers.
Too Little, Too Late?
Many dancers put on their leotards as soon as they begin to walk. Sometimes the calling is simply undeniable, and keen parents enroll these children in dance classes as early as preschool. The prowess of lifelong dancers often deters older students, who believe they would never be able to catch up to the same level of skill. However, this notion is extremely misguided, as you’re never too old to follow your dreams! Whether it’s a teenager or middle-aged adult asking about dance classes, let them know that there are notable physical benefits to taking up dance at any age, and with patience and dedication, they will likely achieve their goals. However, it’s important to be realistic about expectations. Pointe Perfect noted that while there’s no “cutoff age” for professional dancers, it’s unlikely that an adult who has limited time to practice will be able to catch up with students who have dedicated their lives to dancing. Explain to inquirers that even if they may never make it to the professional level, that doesn’t mean they can’t compete in national events, become an inspiration to others and have a whole lot of fun while dancing!
Success Knows No Age
While the odds of a late bloomer making it to a professional level are low, it does happen from time to time. Imagine if someone had told Misty Copeland that she was too old to start ballet class at 13? The world would have missed out on a trailblazing icon who serves as an inspiration to dancers around the world. There are a number of other unconventional success stories that demonstrate that you’re never too old to start dancing. Dance magazine pointed to David Zurak, a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, who didn’t find his passion for dance until he was 23! There are also a lot of dancers who take up the art form without hopes of making it big, but are still amazed at how dance transforms their lives. The Guardian interviewed a 75-year-old man named Muhammad Yusuf who joined a weekly dance class at a local community center in hopes of staying active and socializing more. Yusuf explained that not only has the opportunity allowed him to reconnect with his passion for dance, but it has helped to keep his health problems under control as well. These stories show that success and ability isn’t determined by age, but rather by passion, dedication and desire!
Encouraging Students to Follow Their Dreams
Chances are that you decided to open a studio to share your love for dance with the next generation. That’s why it’s part of your responsibility to encourage students of all ages, shapes and sizes to do what they love. Be honest about what latecomers can expect – months or years of beginner-level classes and lots of extra practice time – but let them know that there’s no such thing as “too late.” Once students make the decision to step into their leotards, they’ll probably fall in love with the art form the same way you and so many others have.