On Wednesday, I attended a photo shoot with Misty Copeland, a soloist at American Ballet Theatre. Misty started ballet at 13, which is pretty late for a woman, but fell in love with it and made the choice to pursue it as a career. It's a good thing she did, too, since she's an absolutely beautiful and amazingly talented dancer.
I've also got a friend who started when she was 16, and her passion and determination to succeed is a model for any professional dancer to emulate. Rather than being put into ballet exclusively as a little girl by her mother, she chose to dedicate her life to it later on, leaving no doubt or regret about the time she's spent training. And in dance studios everywhere, there are scores of adults who begin dancing in their 30s, 40s or even later. I also think that starting late can sometimes have its benefits--you're more mature, more physically intelligent, more able to make the right choices for yourself.
I'm always inspired by the love late starters have for the art. They just want to, need to dance, which is a drive that lifelong dancers sometimes have to struggle to find within themselves. It can be hard to have fun when you're in class, since self-consciousness and frustration can take over and spoil it for you. When that happens, it helps to look to those people who are there for no reason other than pure and simple enjoyment, and often they'll be the ones who haven't been dancing that long. It always feels so good to remember why you dance, doesn't it?