How old is too old to start modern dance?

Previously, I had touched upon the age requirements for ballet with regard to a professional career and recreation. Now a reader wants to know: What about modern dance?

Modern dance was developed as the sort of "anti-ballet" dance. Mary Wigman-one of the major players in the beginnings of the modern dance movement-abandoned the pointe shoe and even the rigid, erect posture of the ballet dancer. Her technique was called "absolute dance" because the movement was earthier and more in tune to the natural movement of the body. And that was only the beginning for a major dance movement which is alive and well today.

While modern dance is similar to ballet in that there are a multitude of techniques to study-including Graham, Limon, Horton and Cunningham just to name a few-the beauty of modern technique is that you can find a technique suitable for any age group. This means you can begin studying modern dance at age 6 or 60 without worrying about special shoes or body type expectations. The message of modern dance is "Come as you are."

So, what about a career in modern dance performance? Well, the age to begin modern dance is also much more flexible if you believe a career is in your future. I have known professional modern dancers who took their very first dance classes at 18 and even 27 and have managed to create rich and fulfilling careers on the stage. Of course, the major dance companies like Graham and Limon are generally looking for dancers who began studying in their teens or earlier but smaller performance opportunities are available all over the country (and the world) for those with a passion to dance.

A note of caution, however, that I didn't even touch upon in the piece about ballet: Dance is not a career for those who want to get rich and the majority of dancers in the world still need a "day job" (dance-related or not) to supplement their passion. So, keep your teaching, waiting tables or even computer skills sharp!



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