As most ballerinas start their journeys young, we often get asked the question of how late is “too late” to start ballet. Our bottom line is that it is never too late to start dancing ballet. Many people start learning as adults! Though it is more difficult to dance professionally the later you start, it isn’t impossible. With so many benefits to dancing ballet, it truly is better late than never!

Can You Start Ballet at 13 Years Old?

Yes, you can start ballet at 13 years old. However, if you hope to have a college or professional career in ballet, starting at 13 years old will likely mean that you have to work harder than your peers. If you find a great technical classical ballet instructor and commit to regular training and rehearsals, with the right level of commitment, you can catch up to dancers who may have started their training earlier than you.

If you’d like to start ballet at 13 years old just for fun, then you’re in luck. Anyone–any age–can start ballet at any time for recreational or personal purposes. Find a class you’re comfortable with, and have fun. After all, that’s what dance is all about!

What Challenges Will a Dancer Face Starting Ballet at 13 Years Old?

Because you may be older than some of your peers, there are some challenges that you may face starting ballet at 13 years old compared to starting younger. Here are what those challenges may look like–and how to overcome them.

The First Class

One of the first difficulties is often the hurdle of the first class. There can be nervousness of looking silly, being clumsy, and, in general, just not knowing what to expect. Encourage your teenager by reminding them of why they wanted to sign up! To get rid of the jitters, call ahead of time to make sure you’ve got everything you need. Knowing you’re wearing the proper uniform, the right hair, and have the time and location correct can calm the nerves.

Being The Oldest One

When you start your child later, they might feel uncomfortable being the oldest in their level. This psychological hurdle is likely to be one of the biggest they will face. When possible, try to get them into a class that is closer to their age to avoid embarrassment or discouragement. If that’s not possible, consider taking private lessons and attending workshops to close the gap between them and dancers their age. As ballet is a very technique-heavy dance, at first it’s less about physical ability than it is about learning form and proper posturing. Let your teen know that they will likely graduate the beginning levels much faster than the other children once they have learned the basics. But, even for the most athletic or graceful of us, we still have to gather these building blocks first.

More Motivation To Improve!

Those that start ballet later, know that they are behind and therefore much harder to catch up. Their maturity and developed body awareness will likely be their biggest advantage in starting late. If they work incredibly hard, practice, and stretch every night they can make their professional dreams come true. Encourage them not to give up! It may be intimidating to dance alongside those that have more experience but we all have to start somewhere. Instead of feeling discouraged, tell your dancer to look for what they admire in others and find ways to emulate it. 

The Benefits

Whether you are aspiring to a ballet career or are wanting to dance for recreation, the benefits you will receive from the sport are the same. The increase in strength, flexibility, and self-esteem will come as you grow into your own as a dancer. The teenage years are known for being emotional periods of growth and uncertainty but with time your preteens will be able to ground themselves with this classical art form.