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Back to the Barre: TBT School’s Adult Classes

Barre in empty dance studio

By Mary Ashley Ray

They say you never forget how to ride a bike. Is the same true for ballet? Will a dancer always remember how to plié and pirouette?

I studied ballet and jazz throughout my entire childhood. When I graduated high school and headed to college, I did what many childhood dancers do every year – I stopped dancing. Sure, I enrolled in a weekly jazz class one semester during my freshman year of college and took a single ballet class one time after college. However, those classes ended as quickly as they came. I’ve missed dancing ever since I graduated from high school in 2010, but recreational dance opportunities are limited for adults and I never quite found the right place to leap back in – until now.

Texas Ballet Theater School (TBTS) offers adult ballet classes for a variety of skill levels, from Absolute Beginner to Intermediate. All classes were held virtually during the first year of COVID-19, and in-person programming returned this summer. After 11 years away from the studio, I was intrigued by these in-person classes and enrolled in the Beginner/Intermediate series.

First, I took a trip to The Dance Shop, a Fort Worth institution where I purchased all my dance supplies growing up. I excitedly found a new pair of ballet slippers and even picked up a leotard and tights. Any tight-fitting workout clothing is welcome in TBTS adult classes, but I knew that traditional ballet attire would help me get in the right headspace.

Before I knew it, I was walking into the studio at our Dallas school facility. TBTS instructor Lauren Hibbard led our class of 10, each of whom had varying levels of ballet experience. We spent most of the class at the barre, flowing from pliés to tendus, ronds de jambe to grand battements. After a brief sequence across the floor, our hour-long class felt like it had finished almost as soon as it started.

Being back at the barre was a thrill. While my turnout has worsened and I needed a refresher on some terminology, it was so much fun to return to something I enjoyed for so many years. I found myself in the same mindset I had growing up – adjusting my alignment, watching my arm placement, and taking quick glances in the mirror to check my movements.

It wasn’t just a physical workout, but a mental one too. During a ballet class, the instructor first explains and demonstrates a sequence, then the students perform it to music. This is the order of an entire class, from barre exercises to center floor work. Students must continuously engage their brains to put forth their best physical effort while simultaneously memorizing and retaining sequences throughout the duration of a class.

As soon as our session was over, I started looking forward to the next week’s class. Ballet may feel a little different after taking years off, but I highly recommend getting back into it. You’ll find both amusement and joy in revisiting your roots and challenging yourself, both physically and mentally. Be sure to visit our Adult Dance Classes page on our website to see the upcoming class schedule!