Being afraid of growing old is pointless. It happens. A lesson we could take from dance artists is never stopping moving. At the moment several superstars of dance are crashing the age barrier. Alessandra Ferri (56), Wendy Whelan (52), and Carmen de Lavallade (88) are each totally unique dancers, a world unto themselves, and that is part of the reason their artistry has endured. Among those ‘butterflies’ who keep expressing themselves later in life, even Deborah Hay. Contemporary dance trio ‘Nora’ have invited the 78 years ‘young’ experimental choreographer to work with them on a new piece for a two-night run at Sadler’s Wells (24th -25th April), in London. Titled ‘Where Home Is‘, Hay’s piece is the first in a triptych of dances to be performed for the project Nora Invites II.
So, what’s the secret of their resilience? The thing is dance has no expiration date. Older dancers are like magicians of stagecraft: even when movement quality becomes less robust, what can emerge is a renewed sense of the heroic.
If you discovered ballet late but are serious about a professional career, find a reputable school—now. While you may be disappointed to find yourself dancing next to little kids, don’t get discouraged: late beginners have some inherent advantages, too. Older students often move up through the levels quickly because they tend to be stronger and more dedicated than younger ones. The Japanese dancer Eiko Otake (67) said: “because their bodies are not young, older performers carry something that is almost between this world and the next, that itself is artistic and transcending”. Keep flying!