A grandmother and ex-professional dancer who gave up ballet for decades has started up classes for a new generation – over 60.
Claire Tracey, 54, was determined to show that ballet “isn’t just for skinny young women and little girls” when she started her adult classes two years ago.
She welcomed anyone over the age of 18 – but was pleasantly surprised that most of her students were of the more vintage variety.
Most of Claire’s students are aged over 60, and are made up of out of practice former pros, to total newbies who have never pulled on a pair of tights.
But her leotard-clad ladies – and one man – are becoming increasingly competent in their plies, pirouettes and arabesques, proving you are never tutu old to learn ballet.
Married mum-of-two Claire, from Cheltenham, Glos., said: “It is serious for us. It’s not just a load of old ladies dancing.
“Ballet is for everybody, not just little girls in tutus and skinny young ladies.
“I have a 78-year-old who had never done any ballet and one ex ballerina who danced with the Paris Opera.
“One class started as absolute beginners, and now they are really, starting to improve and becoming more and more confident.
“They love it. Lots of women come up to me and say it is the highlight of their week.
“More of my students are over 60 than under 60, but age is just a mindset. My students are proof of that. My oldest dancer is 80.”
Claire started ballet, tap and modern dance when she was aged five, then at 17 she was offered a place at the prestigious London Contemporary Dance School.
She danced, taught and choreographed professionally until she gave it up to concentrate on her family life eventually retraining as an English teacher.
However, when her daughter became seriously ill she had to stop teaching and joined a local adult ballet class.
‘I slipped on my tights and leotard again and I thought ‘gosh I’ve really missed this” said Claire. I had forgotten how much I loved it.
“I wanted to give other older women a chance to dance so I took my dance teacher exams and now specialise in teaching adults.
“It’s a fun form of exercise for anyone who doesn’t want to go to the gym or push weights. Its great for core stability, flexibility and coordination, combining exercise with artistry and beautiful music.
“It also sociable and supportive, a way to make new friends
“I think my students like the fact that I’m not so young myself. I have a bit of life experience.
“Older age can be quite isolating. Ok there is the WI or other clubs, but dancing just makes you feel happy.”
Claire runs ten classes a week in church halls and dance studies across Gloucestershire.