Ballet Myth Busters
Episode 1: Getting Started
Between pointe shoes, tutus, and all that French terminology, ballet can seem mysterious. Is the life of a professional dancer like the movies Center Stage and Black Swan? What’s it like to live in a world of pliés, tours en l’air, and pas de deux? We think it’s time some of the great ballet myths are debunked once and for all. This spring, we’re turning a spotlight on seven common ballet myths.
First up: how does someone get started in ballet?
MYTH: If I didn’t start ballet as a kid, I’ll never become a dancer.
FALSE. Like training to be a professional athlete, musician, or chess master, becoming a professional ballet dancer takes time: on average, 10 years. With most dancers joining a company at about 18 or 19, that means they begin taking classes around 7 or 8 years old. But you don’t train like our professional Company does from the beginning. At that age, you only come to ballet class once or twice a week. And you don’t have to eat, sleep, and breathe ballet either. Corps de Ballet member Gabriela Gonzalez began taking ballet classes at 5, but she also took swimming lessons and traveled around Mexico competing in meets until she was 13. Soloist Daniel Deivison-Oliveira discovered ballet when he was around 8, and continued playing soccer alongside ballet until he was 14.
So, to become a professional dancer, you do need to become serious about your ballet training around the time you become a teenager. While that’s earlier than those who want to be doctors or lawyers, there’s no age limit when it comes to enjoying ballet. Ballet is a great workout and cross–training exercise for runners and cyclists, as it helps with balance, coordination, and flexibility. And don’t worry about not having leotards, tights, and right hair pins to make the perfect ballet bun. For of SF Ballet’s Adult Ballet classes, all you need is ballet slippers.
Header Image: Lauren Parrott in Lander’s Etudes // © Erik Tomasson