ballet dancing in older age
January 2019

Dance Like Everyone is Looking

A Mom Raises the Ballet Barre for the First Time

By Ramona Pursley

As we enter a New Year, I reflect on what I’ve accomplished during the past year both personally and as a parent. One of the best things I did in 2018 was stepping out of my regular Mom Role and trying a challenge I’d wanted to try my whole life—to learn ballet, a real challenge at the age of 57.

As older parents of young children, my husband Bob and I find our selves running from one after school activity to another. Our two children ages 11 and almost 13 are involved in Tae Kwon Do, dance and basketball. Bob also coaches high school football and wrestling. We are constantly trying to balance our life and find time for our- selves. We still try to get a workout in everyday and on rare occasions have a date night.

I have spent many hours watching my kids dance at Dancenter in Capitola.

ballet dancing in older age
Photo by: Brad Kava LIVIN' THE DREAM at 57, ramona pursley is living her childhood dream, taking ballet and practicing alongside her 12-year-old daughter.

One day during this past summer as I waited for the kids to finish their class, I noticed several adults enter one of the dance studios in preparation for an adult class. Sue, the front desk man- ager walked by as I sat in the waiting

room which faces the studio where the class was about to begin.

Sue asked if I knew someone in the adult class, I told her I did not but was interested in watching them dance. Sue then asked why I hadn’t tried a class my- self.

At that moment, I realized that I had the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream….to take ballet.

For as long has I can remember, I have always loved ballet. As a child, I never had the opportunity to take a dance class. As an adult, I was always working, too busy to participate in a class and the last 15 years rehabilitating numerous knee surgeries. Quite frankly I thought I would embarrass myself by even trying.

Every year during Christmas time I took my now adult children to see the Nutcracker and have continued the tra- dition. More than 20 years have passed and I still sit in awe as the dancers glide, leap and twirl with what seems like ef- fortless skill.

So, despite my left knee replacement, impending right knee replacement and severe arthritis, I decided to try a class. I thought I would try one during the summer and figure out if my body would hold up. I was also curious to find out if it were possible to modify some moves that I found difficult to perform due to my injuries.

First of all, I was relieved to have an instructor that is so patient, understanding and accommodating. Laurel is an excellent teacher and moves with such grace and expertise. She teaches in a way that I understand and is aware when a move proves to be too difficult to execute. She is quick to give instruction on ways modify and/or simplify a move.

I have always worked out and competed in power lifting, bodybuilding, distance running and cycling. This is different, it’s a lot harder than it looks. Dance requires focus, balance, strength, stamina, determination, flexibility and in my case patience and a sense of humor.

As we age balance, flexibility and strength start to diminish and it is very important to work on these things for a better quality of life as well as function. As I go through the dance moves, my brain tells me I can perform the task at hand, my body doesn’t always cooperate. Yet, I have noticed some improvement in balance and flexibility. Most importantly, I am having a great time! During that one hour, I think of nothing else but ballet. I don’t worry about what I have to make for dinner, schedules for the week or appointments. For me it is a mini one-hour vacation from the stress of daily life.

The teachers and administrators at the school were very supportive. I know that there must be other parents like me who sit and watch their kids dance or participate in other sports. If any of these activities are something you have always wanted to try, I say, “Go for it”, life is too short not to.

I feel thankful and blessed for the opportunity. I will continue to dance with a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

One Comment

  • Paula Saraga

    This story makes me so happy!!! I moved away from CA but spent many years dancing as an adult at Dancenter. Ramona, you look happy and beautiful and I’m so glad Sue popped the question!

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