British Columbia

Never tutu old: Pursuing ballet dreams after age 55

Ballet classes in Prince George and Prince Rupert are underway, and while instructor Theresa Mackareth says dance for seniors is nothing new, it’s an activity that has huge growth potential.

'They have a connection the minute they walk through the door," says instructor

Ballet instructor Judy Russell advises her mature students to work through beginner dance classes gently, and with a sense of humour. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Dance classes for students over age 55 are being offered in two northern B.C. cities, and the teachers who offer these classes say it's never too late to learn a new skill.

Instructor Theresa Mackareth says dance classes — offered in Prince George and Prince Rupert — for older adults aren't new, but thinks the activity has large growth potential.

"I think it's going to be something that's going to grow over time," she toldDaybreak North  host Carolina de Ryk.

"It is a little intimidating to start something when you're 55." 

Fellow dance teacher Judy Russell said the classes provide an outlet for anyone who's had learning to dance on their bucket list, and finally has the time or money to take part.

She added some students may have wanted to become a dancer when they were young, but were unable to for a variety of reasons. Now as adults they are keen to give themselves experiences they once longed for.

"I think it's because a lot of people did not get the opportunity when they were young,' she said.

A mature crowd takes to the barre at a seniors dance class in Prince Rupert. (Submitted)

And, the classes aren't just for women. Mackareth and Russell both have men in their mature dance classes. In fact, Mackareth said she teaches two older men who have been taking her classes for eight years.

As one might imagine, dance can be challenging for aging bodies.

"You really have to work through that class, maybe gently with a lot of humour, and make sure that people are not expecting themselves to move like a 25-year-old," Russell said.

She advises new dancers to avoid looking in mirrors, which typically dominate dance studios.

Aside from being a healthy hobby and helping adults to maintain strength and balance, Mackareth said there's a social aspect to taking dance lessons later in life.

"I've seen friendship develop you know in the class," she said. "And to me that is one of the real true benefits of of dancing together."

Added Russell: "When people walk into a room to do something that is the same, there's something inside of them that is similar, and they're looking for a similar experience which means that they have a connection the minute they walk through the door," Russell said.

With files from Daybreak North