Too late? (to succeed professionally in the dance world)

by Anonymous
(No location given)

I am a 20 year old college student in Chicago. After reevaluating my decision to go to college, I have realized that dancing is what I really love to do. I have a long history of training in classical ballet and jazz, but am turning 21 soon and am afraid of being too old to succeed professionally in the dance world. Is it too late?

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Mar 09, 2011
Answer from Maria
by: Maria


I understand your concern and I guess you think that dancers need to have extremely acrobatic skills to succeed professionally.

For some types of dance (like ballet or competitive modalities) this may apply. Though, there are many forms of dance in which sophisticated physical skills are not so important (many styles of contemporary dance included).

Now, remember that a dance professional has various fields to exert her/his knowledge. You can be a choreographer, a teacher, a researcher, a producer, a dancer...

Almost all those types of professionals have been dancers once and if that role didn't give them the best opportunities, they would continue to work for dance in alternative ways.

If the only thing you wished was to be the first prima ballerina of the American Ballet Theater, then I'd tell you: yes dear, it is late for you. But dance is nowadays a wide artistic field, through which you can search your own place. This includes the possibility of being a professional dancer (even more if you tell me that you do have a long story within ballet and jazz).

If earning money is your worry, I'll tell you, as everybody would, that it might be more difficult to be rich dedicating yourself to art than to the financial business....

But, imagine yourself counting numbers, sitting at an office or bidding at your local stock market... How does that feel? Is that what you want for yourself? And do you think that every person that follows those 'less risky' professions does succeed?

Consider success as something circumstantial. It depends on you but also on the context in which you live.

Measure your expectations and overall personal possibilities and compare them with the working potential you see at your reach (how many dance companies and of what type of dance, institutions, public and private schools, theaters...). You need to do a real, good research for this, because your family support and local dance context might determine your possibilities even more than your physical skills or conditions.

This is a delicate matter. Please, read my answer with care, as you have a big, maybe lifetime decision to make.

I was once exactly at the point you are now, and I chose dance. Work has been hard, but a lot of gratification has accompanied it. Still, after many years of my lifetime decision, I'm glad I made it (and I live in a far more difficult cultural and economical context than you).

If dance gives sense to your life and you feel passion about it, it would be a big shame that you loose that gift. Do you know how many people are there that don't know what they would prefer to do with their lives?

Finding and following a vocation is a real way to find spiritual freedom and realization of your self.

Freedom has a price, but it is not impossible to pay.

Still, no matter what you decide, you will learn, understand and grow.

We will receive you with open arms, if it is our magical world you choose.



Jan 04, 2018
is it too late to start jazz at 15
by: Anonymous

Hi im 15 now and i alwyas wanted to dance before but i couldn't due to some personal reasons. am i too late to start dancing JAZZ at this age of 15 obviously as a beginner since i never danced jazz before ? can i become a professional JAZZ DANCER or not ?

Jan 04, 2018
Maria's reply
by: Maria

Hi there,

The answer may be YES, but that depends on many factors, like your conditions and circumstances. If you want to give it a try, you should start immediately with daily training.

; )

Mar 13, 2018
Late to the Game
by: Anonymous

Hi. I'm 21. I danced a bit when I was younger, in elementary school, but then my parents pulled me out. I started taking ballet 2hrs 2x a week at my college, and I want to be a professional level dancer- specifically, I want to be on Broadway. I have one teacher in ballroom who says I'm learning quickly, but my ballet teacher mostly ignores me. Can I still get to Broadway as a dancer? I'm planning on increasing my dance classes to about 15 total hours a week, I'm just scared of not being good enough.

Mar 13, 2018
Getting to Broadway as a dancer
by: Maria

Hi there,

I can not answer to your question without evaluating you, as you may understand. However, you should know that reaching Broadway is something that does not depend on your talent only. There are various circumstances that make this possible only for some dancers.

Still, you can only know how far you can go, if you try. You may make it!

But if you don't, you should also know that Broadway is not the only working option for dancers. If you continue studying, you will know many other different opportunities.

So, if you love dancing, you should continue. But daily training is required for professionals. Don't forget this...

; )

Mar 25, 2018
by: Anonymous

I am 15. I was a gymnast for 6 years. I am starting Lyrical dance: unfortunately my mom can only afford one class a week. And I'll start classes this summer: will I be a good dancer in two years? When I say good I just want to seem talented at it. I have to body, flexibility, and grace for lyrical dance but I just hope to learn a lot. I hope to be a reasonably good dancer before I graduate high school. I'm a freshman.

Mar 26, 2018
You have the physical conditions... that's great
by: Maria


If you have the physical conditions, some experience and can afford at least one class a week, you can become a great dancer... BUT... you should complement your weekly class with more practice on your own. Repeat what you learn with your teacher and do research on the internet to find more information and training options.

Professional dancers practice daily, so if you want to get close to that, you should try to practise likewise.

Go for it!

Jul 15, 2018
Any advice appreciated
by: Tania Kay

This must be the nicest forum I have ever come across and your responses have just resonated with me so much. Really thoughtful, thank you.
Now I am, brace yourselves, 39(!) and this week I'll be going to my first contemporary dance lesson. It is something that I really want to try as a form of self expression and I am tired of thinking I'm too old to start anything artistic (I've been using that excuse since I was 20).
I'm not sure there is even a point in me asking if I'm too old to make it as a dancer but any advice you have to offer at all will be much appreciated. I am in great physical shape from training at the gym and doing yoga so I'm hoping that will help.
Many thanks in advance.

Aug 06, 2018
by: Anonymous

Hi, im 12 years old i started dance when i was 11 is it too late for me to become a professional ballet dancer when im old enough to audition for a company?

Aug 06, 2018
11 is a good age to start ballet
by: Maria

You can still be a ballet dancer, but consider that there are others that started at the age of 8.

So, don't miss class... !

; )

Aug 23, 2018
what have been confusing me for a long time
by: Anonymous

hi I'm 16.i have learned ballet for almost 10 year but just for fun so I'm not a professional ballerina.part of reasons is that my teacher and family never take my dancing a serious years ago I have a chance to get in to a professional school but I didn't pass the test.and gradually I lost my confidence. I think it is too late for being a good ballet dancer.actually,I have been being sorrowful deeply and doubt myself if I really can keep doing this and really in a bad condition feeling depressed and feeling lonely like no one really supports me.but over time I found that I love dancing and I can't bear that a life without dancing. and recently I fell in love dancing hiphop. is that possible for me to be a good dancer internationally or even a choreography. but under my conditions I don't have much sources except like learning tips online.
I'm really suspicious if I can do it or not and also think I'm a bit too late but I really want to try it…should I try it?can you please tell me what should I do ?…

Aug 27, 2018

by: Maria

Hi there,

Being able to make a carrer in the field of dance depends on different circumstances that surround your life and not only on your physical skills.

If you really love it, you should at least try. Ballet is difficult indeed, but there are many different types of dance. You may fit into one of them.

There's no starting age to become a choreographer, but there's a lot of studying and researching to do. If you feel like trying that, just start right now. Art is something that builds within yourself in time. Don't expect big results at the beginning. It's like a slow growing plant.

If you love dance, you should try. Persistance opens ways and doors. You'll see.

; )

Feb 07, 2019
Too old?
by: Velibor

*I have posted this question in another place, but find this a much better option.


I have an age old question, but a little bit different circumstances. :)

I am 31 y.o. and I want to engage in dance.
My wish is to focus on ballet and contemporary and/or modern.
For the time being, I have to think about my finances so I gave myself a year to make a switch in career that would give me more free time to start training/taking classes while still being able to make a living.

I am an absolute beginner considering dance (or any sort of movement training besides running, hiking, free climbing, biking, yoga, calisthenics and parkour, but nothing professionally) although I am not a newbie in arts (though my field was music so far).

My question is: with consistent work and dedication, do You think it might be possible to enter the world of professional dance and performance even perhaps only on local/national level?
My aim is to begin training in local studios and see how I feel, than perhaps go into academic education or other diploma/certification programme. Ambitious, I know. :)

But at some point, even staging my own performances in consideration of my own capabilities, would be a tremendous success!

I wanted to dance for years but was not able because of life circumstances and I am certain that performing arts is where I want to direct my energy, time and effort. Dance is something I have a strong passion and desire for and would like to begin with and see where it takes me.

Thank You very much!



Mar 10, 2019
I'm 13 years old, can I start contemporary
by: Anonymous

I'm thirteen turning fourteen. I have only one year in artistic gymnastics and found my passion through watching videos of contemporary dances and want to start. I'm worried I'm too old and dont have the requirements to do it. Do I still have a chance

Mar 13, 2019
Maria's reply
by: Maria

Hey... you are very young. Off course you still have a chance. Don't loose any more time and go taking your classes. The more the better!

Jul 29, 2019
too late for the mouse ears/ broadway?
by: Leesa

So i'm 15 and have loved dance since I saw dance moms on my TV screen when I was 4 haha, I did ballet for a year when I was 7 to 8 but had to quit since I got very sick. I am starting back up again in 2 weeks with lyrical and contemporary. Could I possibly make it professionally? My dream is to dance for Disney or broadway!

Oct 31, 2019
Reply for Leesa
by: Maria

Dear Leesa,

If you dream of dancing in Broadway, you need to start daily classes immediately. Following a professional dance program would be ideal.

; )

Oct 15, 2020
Can I start contemporary at 14 if I want to be at a good level by 18?
by: Emi

Hi, I was wondering if I could start contemporary at 14 and be good enough to audition for AMDA at 17 or 18 years old. I used to do ballet when I was 8, but quit due to bullying and other issues. I am fairly flexible and have good motivation. Please help, I really have wanted to do this for a while now.

Oct 16, 2020
Reply for Emi
by: Maria

Dear Emi,
You are in time for getting a very good level at 17-18, but you will need to have a good regular training from now on. The ideal is to take at least one technique class a day and some creative sessions a week. Still, it all depends on your skills too. But yes, you are still in time.

;) Maria

Oct 27, 2020
I recently turned 18 with contemporary training since I was 14
by: Anonymous

Hi Maria.

I was self taught for a year when I was 13 and finally decided to start lessons when I was 14. I haven't stopped dancing since. After reading some of the other comments - a recurring piece of advice is that a regular routine should be followed. I exercise everyday but not dance as I also have a basketball routine that I follow as I hope to study and play basketball at university.

I recently realized what was missing from my life and that is sharing art. My old studio wasn't really the best place for me as a dancer to grow but hopefully I can find an affordable way to get classes. My teacher had just looked at my age and frowned upon me from the start. I absolutely love to dance but my dreams of being in the dance world even on a university club level were broken when she would continuously let me know that even with my hard work- it was too late.

Would I be able to play basketball and dance while in university and then decide on one afterwards?

Warmest regards x

Mar 07, 2021
A complicated situation
by: -

Hi! I am 15, and I started learning jazz and hiphop 3 months ago, but then I realized what I wanted more is modern and contemporary dance. I had no experience before this. A problem is that my school workload is heavy ( and I don’t see it getting any lighter in the future) and I started hiphop already so I barely have time... I am currently in this 1 year long hiphop program with 6 hours of lessons a week, so there is probably no way for me to take more dance lessons. I don’t hate hiphop and jazz, I enjoy it greatly, but I also love the explosion of emotions in modern and contemporary dance. Will my current training help? I don’t necessarily want to become a professional dancer, but I want to experience and express like the dancers I have seen ( so maybe also do choreography?). What should I do?

Mar 10, 2021
Reply to: recently turned 18 with contemporary training since 14
by: Maria

Hi there!
I don't know you, so I can not tell if it is too late for you to dance as a professional. But, is that your goal? If that is NOT your goal, it is never too late for dancing. If your goal is to be a professional dancer, you should stop your basketball training right now and spend that time in your dancing lessons. And try different teachers if possible.

I also recommend you to visit our FAQ page (through this link or using the button up in the navigation bar). I've written about this there and it will help you further.

; )

Mar 10, 2021
Reply to: 'a complicated situation'
by: Maria

Hi there!
Yes, your current training will help you for dancing modern or contemporary in the future. However, if those are the types of dance you prefer, try to move to those type of classes when you can.

; )

Mar 30, 2021
Is it too late to get back on track at 15?
by: Anonymous

I just turned 15 a couple of weeks ago and really really want to know if its too late to take up dance again.
I learnt gymnastics and dance professionally from the age of 6 up till 12 but quit abruptly for no obvious reason to be honest.
For the past 3 years I have probably not dance properly even once and I have lost all my confidence, I really miss dancing.

Will learning choreographies myself only count as a hobby or can it help me ahead for my portfolios.
I really have no idea where to start or how to tell my mom that I still love to dance.

Thank You!!

Sep 21, 2021
Can someone who started super late in dance do 32 turns in a performance?
by: Eddie

Hi there, I'm Eddie. I have a friend (female) who wanted to be really skilled at ballet and contemporary dance but not wanting to do it professionally. She's 30 years old, just starting ballet and her definition of being "really skilled" is being able to do ballet variations to the highest level for example doing 32 turns in a performance. Keep in mind that she's not wanting to be a pro. She is in good shape though, having done some sports for a very long time. Is she too late to learn 32 turns at a performance someday, even though not doing it professionally, even with great teachers and quality teaching? Thank you

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