Whether it's trying something new, rekindling a passion from younger years, spending time with friends, or adding variety to an exercise routine, there are a wide range of reasons why the new Adult Ballet Starter Series has been popular at several of the Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy locations.

Instructor Nannette Chertudi says the students range anywhere from high school age up to 70-plus-year-olds who never took ballet in their younger years. The atmosphere has also been welcoming, with the adults helping everyone feel accepted.

"I try to let everybody experience the beauty and grace that we have, to teach them, and find their love for ballet in a safe environment," said Chertudi. "Adult beginners are an interesting mix of people, so I really tailor the class to each individual person and where they are in their practice. We're working on teaching the basics of ballet, but also the beauty that comes from ballet and an appreciation for the art form as a whole."

Page Kirschbomb had been bringing her daughter to dance class with the Ballet West Academy for some time when she learned of the adult classes.

"I've always been fascinated by ballet, so I wanted to learn more," Said Kirschbomb. "I've gained even more of a passion for ballet, how beautiful it is, how incredible the technique is, and just such a respect for ballerinas and all they do."

Emilly Steager was nervous about doing something she'd never done before when she signed up for the classes.

"It definitely put me out of my comfort zone, having never danced before in my life...but I've also always been interested in it, so I figured, why not give it a try, and it's been really fun," said Steager. "It was very in alignment for me to get exercise, learn something new, and spend time with my friend and get that social time while learning a skill I had never tried before."

Chertudi describes ballet is an important skill to learn so one can really center their body and discover a love of dance.

"It's not about being a perfect ballerina," she said. "Our goal is to love the art form, to move our bodies, and to appreciate the music and the way our bodies move to the music."

"I remember starting ballet for the first time as a young adult in my hometown," said Ballet West Academy Adult Division Coordinator Jessica Baynes. "I entered a weekly beginner class and recall the sheer overwhelm I felt at the volume of new vocabulary, bodily alignment, and the fast-paced environment of a class where I was the only new beginner.

"Unfortunately, this experience is not unique for many adult learners, and it is the inspiration for creating Ballet West's Adult Ballet Starter Series," she continues. "We have designed a program that offers rudimentary education, step-by-step explanations, and allocated time for questions, in order to nurture curiosity in new dancers. It is paramount that students have a space to develop confidence, creativity, and happiness through the beautiful art form of ballet.

Since its launch less than a year ago, the Adult Ballet Starter Series has brought 10 courses and 66 total classes to multiple Ballet West Academy locations. The program has served over 135 students, with sign-up numbers increasing each week.

"Success of this class is a testament to thoughtful curriculum design by our Associate Director of Curriculum, Stacey Mahan, masterful pedagogy by our teachers, and - most of all - passion, courage, and commitment from the amazing adult students in our community," Baynes said.