How Old is Too Old to Start Your Dance Career?

The times have changed for dancers. The dance world which used to seem cold and unobtainable to most people has changed. People are now accepting different types of dancers regarding color, ethnicity, background, and social status. But is it the same for age? Have you ever wanted to be a pro dancer and never forged an opportunity in your younger years? Whatever happened in your 20’s and 30’s effected where you are now in life. You want to dance, but being a student isn’t enough. You want your moment to shine. Can you still?

I believe the answer is yes.

I do not want to delude people and say that you can be a prima ballerina at the New York City Ballet starting at age 40 with no previous dance training. That would be a definite no. But hey, other things have happened that should inspire every person no matter what their age. See the example below.

Paddy & Nicko wow audiences

With the same token. Just because you’re old doesn’t mean you stop doing what you love. See this example.

91 year-old gymnast still has it

But let’s face it and with no disrespect, most people are not this amazing or dedicated to any of their pursuits. You can still start a professional career in dance at any age. For these examples, I’m just going to completely exclude Ballet. Ballet has overcome many discriminatory behaviors including accepting people of color in principle roles and being less restrictive in weight for their dancers. However, technique and quality of dance movement for Ballet will never change. The skills required for a professional career in dance start from a very young age in life as a child.

Become a professional Belly Dancer – Belly Dance is one of the most accepting dances in the west for women of all ages, color, and this is especially nice – sizes. Belly Dance/Raqs Sharqi is a woman centered dance form that stems from Middle Eastern culture and traditions. There are many types of Belly Dance styles ranging from Tribal Fusion to Egyptian traditional dance. Men can belly dance as well. There are still a few prejudices regarding men and trans people, but this attitude is slowly shifting in the west.

Professional belly dancers still frown on the instant pro dancer. Before branding yourself as a professional, make sure you have studied a couple of years at least under a reputable instructor. Have yourself evaluated at competitions and get certified for different levels of teaching. Many belly dancers teach and perform to sustain themselves. Of course, you are not obligated to only dance for a living as a professional belly dancer. Many dancers have full-time careers in other areas.

Another important aspect of becoming a professional belly dancer is to adhere to the gig rating system in your area. Under bidding for gigs is a source of contention for many dancers, especially those of us who have trained for 10 plus years or all our lives. You can also join a local professional belly dance company. Find out when they hold auditions. This will provide a smoother transition into professional dancing before heading out solo.

Become a Zumba instructor – Dance fitness classes are still very popular. Zumba is a branded teaching system that provides you with training for instruction. As a Zumba instructor, you are more part of the fitness industry than dance, but many Zumba instructors are also dancers. This is one way to get paid doing what you love without having to perform on stage. You can consider your students in your class as your audience members.

Become a Jazzercise instructor – Similar to Zumba, this fitness class was popular in the 80’s and 90’s. It still has an audience and if this style of dance is more your style, consider certification in Jazzercise. Keep in mind for any fitness class, you may be required to become CPR certified.

Become a Hula Dancer – There’s a smaller pool of dancers to choose from when researching where to learn and what group to join. There may be a local halau in your area which teaches about Hawaiian and Polynesian culture. If you have a local Hawaiian entertainment company in your area, they may be open to teaching you dances and steps in rehearsal if you donate monthly or commit yourself to working with them. I definitely recommend joining a group when you’re ready to go pro. It is very hard to book gigs as a soloist in Polynesian dance without the background.

Become a Ballroom Dancer – Start taking classes in ballroom at your local ballroom studio. Groupon sometimes offers deals for beginners. Call the studio to see if there are any specials for new dancers. Ballroom is fun and offers lots of dance styles ranging from Swing to Latin dances. Find your style and pursue it with passion. Dedicate yourself daily and soon you will be working at competitions. Work your way up and one day you can win competitions with monetary prizes or teach and become a ballroom instructor yourself.

Where there is a will, there’s a way. This article is intended for people who have always wanted to learn how to dance. There are other dancers out there who taught themselves or worked in a non-studio environment. This article may or may not have elements that pertain to them as well. But for those self-made dancers, stay tuned. There are many opportunities out there for self-made dancers as well. Good luck to all.

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