Can I learn to dance at 30?

Evgenia Budrina
7 min readMay 25, 2020

I hate going to the gym. Running is too boring. Whatever I start I drop halfway..

Sounds familiar, right? I was thinking the same way until I took up dancing at the age of 32. In this article I will talk about what stops many people from learning to dance after 30 and what to do to become a good dancer. Spoiler: it’s not because you’re not stretched or fit enough.

My story

I have always been attracted to dancing. I tried many things: ballet, ballroom dancing, salsa and pole dancing. I took all of these very seriously, trained a lot and… still dropped it. Here’s why.

Each time I was sort of blaming myself for such a serious attitude to dancing at my age. This was the thinking in my head: “Why the hell did you decide that you’re going to succeed? You are too old. Even those who start at 5 years old don’t all make it. Why do you spend so much time doing something in which you will never become a pro? Your life is writing, you’re an introvert, stop dancing and focus on sitting in front of the laptop”.

Me being an adult and my serious (almost professional) attitude to dancing didn’t really come together in my head. And I stopped dancing for 5 years.

When I was 30, my son was born. I needed to get in shape after my pregnancy. And I started the “normal” fitness routine. The one “normal” people do: running, training at the gym, crossfit etc. And… realized that I cannot keep doing it for longer than 6 months. I was just enormously bored. I felt like I was wasting my time.

That’s when I remembered my childhood and ballet classes I took as a kid. I googled “adult ballet Moscow”, clicked on the first link in the search results and in 2 days I already was at my first class. I was 32 years old at that moment.

I was going through some tough times at that moment and those ballet classes became my creative outlet. I felt like I finally found my true self. And I realized that if I drop it now, I’m never going to succeed in something I love the most in my life. Did I want this? My answer was — 100% NO.

Me stretching at home.

Can you learn to dance well if you are over 30 years old?

The answer to this big question is “Yes, but…”. Yep, that’s exactly how the answer sounds. As you see it has two parts. And the second part is more important than the first one. Let me explain.

  1. Yes. You can become a good dancer at any age, if you train smart and a lot. It looks easy. Just go to dance classes four times a week. Just add some stretching and Pilates. Also just add a couple of strength training classes to make sure your body looks even better. And don’t forget to train at home .
  2. But… If you’re over 30, all of the above is much more difficult to implement than if you’re, let’s say, 5. It is really hard to switch your adult brain to this “just do it” mode. Even if your job is easy, you don’t have kids, you have plenty of free time, and you’re doing OK financially. When you’re 5, you don’t have to think much: your mom just takes you to your dance class. When you’re 30, you do think a lot, weighing all pros and cons. Add to that your mood, motivation, outside triggers (“oh my friends are calling me for a drink!”). It’s not easy to persuade your adult brain to put so much time, effort and money into “just a hobby”. Even if you’re so in love with it.

There are many examples out there of the people who started dancing late and still made it. They became either good or really top dancers. But the thing here is not about their talent or some special inborn physical qualities. It’s about this “But…” thing. The “change your brain” thing.

Here is a list of the things that can help you make it in dancing and become as good as you can. They can help reset your brain in a way that it understands that dancing makes you your true self. And that is exactly why it is really worth spending so much time and effort.

Reset your brain

Take it as a given: serious attitude = great achievements. I know, your brain is always trying to put other things above your hobby. Your brain be like: “running is free, why spending so much money on ballet classes?”, “rather than doing those clumsy steps at your dance class, work some extra hours to promote yourself”. As if saying that serious things in a “normal” life = work, family, friends. If there is all of a sudden dancing on this list, it’s just a bug in the code.

But guess what? There is no bug. Because there is no code. You can set your priorities the way you want them to be. Who said that hobby is something you put last on the list? Go to classes every day if you want. Dance in the kitchen with your kids. Don’t blame yourself for this. Life is not only about work, family and friends.

Me trying on a new ballet skirt.

Choose your style

I am 34 years old. I am doing ballet, African contemporary and seriously planning to dig into popping style. It took me years to find who I really am and what I want in dancing.

Whatever I tried, there was always a thing that was bugging me. In salsa I didn’t like to depend on a partner (on the fact if there will actually be one for me at a class). In pole dancing I really felt awkward about the sexual vibe of the whole thing.

So I always quit. At a certain point I started to blame myself for always quitting but couldn’t help it anyway.

And then I realized that I should not fight my own feelings. Instead, I should embrace with them. I figured out what I wanted in dancing: serious attitude, no sex vibes and no dependence on other people. That is how I fell in love with ballet.

My advice is: don’t stop if you don’t like it. You can always change the style, the coach, the studio. It’s much easier to train a lot when you like what you’re training;)

After a ballet class in Bangkok.

Plan your time wisely

Here is my story. I had ballet classes 2 times a week and it wasn’t enough. I desperately needed to switch to 3 or 4 times and I had no clue how: I had my business, family and also needed some time off from all of this. And I couldn’t just cancel my work and family plans because of ballet.

So I figured out a so called “spontaneous” approach. My schedule was flexible as I didn’t depend on the office hours. So every time my meeting was cancelled or my husband had some free time or my mum came to visit — I rushed to my ballet studio. It didn’t always work perfect, but overall I reached my goal.

There is no such a thing as the approach that fits everybody. Some people are totally OK with 6 a. m. classes, some can perfectly train at home when kids are asleep, without having to go to class. Choose the style of time planning that fits your life.

Do something else

To be really into dancing doesn’t only mean going to classes. It is also a lot of thinking through it, reading blogs, watching tons of videos, dreaming, regretting… One day you wake up and understand that you had an overdose of dancing. Yep, an overdose of something that you’re so in love with.

A couple of years ago I watched too many of Diana Vishneva ballet documentaries. And I had a big trouble believing in myself after seeing Diana perform and train — a perfect fairy-tale creature, almost ideal. I thought of myself as so clumsy compared to her. It took me weeks to start believing in myself again.

That’s why I decided to add something else to my passion. I started doing Muay Thai as pure fitness, to keep in shape. This gives me an opportunity to take a plunge into another world and to even start missing dancing. This is my small trick of never losing motivation for dancing :).

Author — Evgenia Budrina. I am a dance enthusiast from Russia.

I started doing ballet at 32. In my blog I write about and for those who started dancing as adults and take it seriously. Personal stories, failures, life-hacks and thoughts.

My Instagram@_a.dancer_

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Evgenia Budrina

Dance enthusiast from Russia. This blog is about dancing as an adult: starting out, keeping up, motivating yourself. Personal stories, failures, lifehacks.