Updated: Aug 28
Do you remember when dance seemed like the most important thing in your life? When there was nothing you loved more than being at the studio all day Saturday, or several nights a week.
But then for some reason you stopped. Maybe you lost the joy because it was all so serious. Or you got caught up in your social life. Or you had to make a choice between dance and study, or dance and work, or dance and sport, or dance and love.
So it’s been a while, and every now and then you think about going back to class. But then you think, “nah, it’s been too long” or you worry you’ll be the oldest one there, or you think you’d like to get fitter or lose weight first.
Let’s imagine you do return to dance as an adult. What might it feel like? It would mean returning to something you loved. It would be time out each week just for you. A time when your worries and responsibilities can fall away. Don’t worry, your body will remember the steps. It’s just like riding a bike.
Have I got you thinking about it?
THIS YEAR could be the year you return to dance as an adult!
Personally, I think it will be a great thing for you, because I know what amazing benefits dance brings. So to help you get more comfortable with the idea, I am going to give you some tips and thoughts to help you make a decision and actually get into the class.
1. Don’t expect to be able to dance exactly as you used to
In addition to fitness, strength, and flexibility, it may take some time for your coordination and memory to return. I like to think of this as neuromuscular fitness. Many who return to dance as an adult are discouraged initially because they can’t pick things up as easily as they used to. But don’t worry, it will come back. Sometimes surprisingly quickly.
2. Ease back into it
You might be excited to be back at dance, and really go for it, and then turn up the next day (or the day after) with sore muscles. Sore muscles is normal, but pushing too hard too quickly can lead to injury. Don’t be like I was a number of years ago when I signed up for a gym membership, went really hard in a Step class, couldn’t walk properly for two weeks, and then never went back. Get back into it gently.
You don’t have to prove anything to anyone, even yourself. Easing in will mean you’ll be able to keep dancing, and you can build up to the point where you can push harder and recapture that adrenaline rush of joy
3. Don’t sign up for too much too soon
It can be really exciting to return to dance as an adult, and you might decide you want to dance several days a week. At Move Through Life, we have different levels of membership, ranging from Silver (one class/week) to Ultimate (unlimited classes).
When someone new signs up, we discourage them from going straight into Ultimate, as we’ve found those who do burn out really quickly. Either they can’t sustain the enthusiasm, or they develop an injury (not necessarily a sprain or strain, but overuse injuries are common). Instead, I recommend you start with no more than one class a week. You can always add more classes later as you rediscover dance.
4. Look after your body
If you’ve had a break from dance, your body is older than it was when you last danced, so you’ll need to take more care of it. This is true if you last danced in your teens and you’re now in your late twenties, as much as it is true if you are in a later decade of life. Make sure you do a gentle stretch of each of the major muscle groups after class (hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, gluteals, lower back).
Listen to your body if you experience any pain. Pain is how your body communicates to you. There is a difference between the pain associated with working hard and having sore muscles, and pain that tells you something is not right. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and back off. Also consider either self massage, or book regular massage to keep your body in working order.
If you have any lingering pain that stays around for more than a week or two, head off to our local physiotherapist before it becomes a chronic injury (there is a list of dance physiotherapists in Adelaide on our Frequently Asked Questions page)
5. You get to decide what kind of experience you want
When you were younger, you may have had to wear a dance uniform of leotard and tights and hair in a bun. You would have had to be quiet during class and in general do what you are told. Some people want to return to dance as an adult because they enjoyed the discipline and rigour. Others might prefer, as an adult, to be more relaxed, to wear whatever they are comfortable in, and to be able to laugh and enjoy themselves more in class.
There are quite a lot of adult dance classes out there, so keep in mind that you can decide if a studio is right for you, rather than just assuming that’s all that is on offer. At Move Through Life, we value individuality and diversity, so we welcome those who want to wear leotard and ballet skirt as well as those who want to wear bold leggings and active wear, and those who prefer a comfortable pair of tracksuit pants.
If you’re in Adelaide, and Dragonfly Dance sounds like the place for you, check out our timetable and come along to a class
BONUS TIP: Just do it
And my final piece of advice is to take that first step and just do it. Do a google search, pick up the phone, send an email enquiry, book your first class. It can be too easy to be focused on getting all your ducks in a row before you start that you end up never starting.
Conditions will never be perfect. If you can’t actually get to a class, you can at least start with some online dance classes or tutorials. It isn’t quite the same as being in a studio with others, but sometimes it can be the only option, depending on where you live and your schedule.
Thinking about coming back to ballet class but you’re a bit nervous?”
Download this ‘Return to Ballet’ Guide to discover:”
what to expect in an adult ballet class
what to wear
how to avoid injury
brush up on ballet terminology
At Dragonfly Dance, we are dedicated to helping adults of all ages, shapes, and sized start, return to, or continue dancing. And so it is with earnest that I cross my fingers and hope that this post has helped you to make the decision to return to dance, and to take action today to get that journey started