It's Never too Late to Start Dancing

A Guide to Dancing in Your Teens
Photo by: Florianne Jalac

Maybe you've watched your friends dance for years and want to try it out, you want a fun way to stay in shape and meet new people or you want to explore the idea of a dance careerNo matter what the reason, figuring out how to start something new can be overwhelming so here's a helpful guide for entering the dance world as a teen.

1. It's never too late to start. Don't think that just because you're in your teens, you can't start your training. There are many professional dancers that started later in their young lives. Misty Copeland, professional ballerina with American Ballet Theater started her training at age 13, Aaron Loux of the Mark Morris Dance Group started his ballet training at age 17, and Domingo Estrada, Jr. also with the Mark Morris Dance Group started his formal dance training at age 16. 

2. Start with the basics. No matter what genre you're looking to practice, almost all of the fundamentals come from ballet and modern dance. So whether you want to eventually try hip-hop or jazz, start with these two and you'll be more prepared.

3. You have options. Living in New York City has many advantages for dancers. There are many programs that offer teen classes, in different genres, and for your skill level. The Mark Morris Dance Center, Dancewave, Ailey Extension, and Peridance are just a few that give you high quality instruction and the flexibility to start your dance career at any age.

4. Types of classes to take. There are plenty of classes out there so find what's right for you.
    • Progressive Classes: These classes are held parallel to your school semester timeline and the technique within each class builds as the semester/year goes on.
    • Drop-In Classes: Held weekly, these don't necessarily progress from one week to the next. But this means you can take them whenever you want, hop around to different locations and genres, and find out what you like best.
    • Camps/Workshops: These are typically held for one continuous week or more and are a great way to gain knowledge in a specific genre. 
    • Master Classes: These happen infrequently and are usually one time only. Master classes are typically taught by a choreographer or artist currently working in the dance world and are a great opportunity for you to learn from the best.
5. When to get started. For some programs, the progressive class schedule starts when your school schedule does so if you're not busy in the summer or over winter break consider a camp or workshop. You may have more free time and it's a good opportunity to get a jump start on the basics. 

6. Other things to look for. There are many other aspects that will help you achieve the best training.
    • Quality of instruction: In order to really succeed, you need to build your dance fundamentals correctly so make sure the studio you pick has teachers that are qualified and ready to help you learn.
    • Multiple class options: Being a teen means you're always busy so choose a place that has many choices for classes and camps.
    • Live music: Live music can vastly improve your technique and there is nothing like having the musician in the room while you learn to dance. The musician will take cues from the specific class and choose the music based off your movement which makes for an individualized experience.
    • The opportunity to perform: Performing is one of the best parts of dancing and you'll want to show your skills off to your family and friends. Look for somewhere that gives you the opportunity to strut your stuff at the end of the program/classes. 
Learn about teen summer workshops and our year round teen programming at The School at the Mark Morris Dance Center. Plus if you're 14 years or older, you can participate in adult drop-in classes and master classes at the Dance Center.

If you have more questions, feel free to comment below or contact Kelsey Ley, School Director.


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