Why Angela Rippon thinks more over-55s should take up ballet
By Abi Jackson. Published 2020-02-13
The first in our Boldie series on dance - we take a look back at the launch of the Silver Swans. launched in 2017 by the Royal Academy of Dance.
Ballet has inspired numerous new fitness classes in recent years – and it’s not just on-trend 20-somethings getting in on the act.
In 2017 The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) launched Silver Swans, a brand new ballet class specifically for over-55s, to encourage and inspire more mature age groups to embrace the joy of dance and all the wellbeing benefits it offers (tutus optional).
Curious to revisit your favourite childhood activity, or take up ballet for the first time ever? Silver Swans classes are being rolled out in various locations across the UK and US. Here, some of those involved, including ambassador Angela Rippon, tell us why they’d love to see more over-55s hitting the barre…
It’s good for body and soul
Keeping physically active is important at any age and especially as you get a little older. Moving your body doesn’t just help ward off major diseases and depression, but can actually help with joint pain and keeping bones healthy too (just make sure you seek advice from your doctor before starting a new exercise regime).
Silver Swans teacher Sarah Platt, says: “Ballet is a great activity for over-55s because it works the body as well as the mind. It helps improve mobility, posture, coordination and energy levels.
“The Silver Swans classes are taught by qualified Silver Swans licensed teachers who are trained to work with a diverse range of adults in a safe and supportive environment. Exercises are adapted for the individual needs of the students, so age and ability is no barrier to the barre.”
Silver Swans ambassador, TV presenter Angela Rippon CBE, is convinced dance is the ideal route to wellness. “I’m absolutely delighted to be the ambassador for Silver Swans, having been involved in dance for many years, both professionally and in my private life,” says the dance enthusiast, who attended a Silver Swans teacher training session earlier this year.
“On my BBC programme How To Stay Young, we proved scientifically that dance is the exercise which ticks all the boxes, to give you the full mind and body workout. That really convinced me that dance is a way to ensure a long and healthy life; it keeps you supple, it’s an aerobic exercise, it gives you spatial awareness, it makes you use your brain, and it gives you some kind of social contact as well. I hope that men and women across the country will take up the Royal Academy of Dance’s invitation to become a Silver Swan.”
Everyone is welcome
As Angela highlighted, both men and women are welcome and you certainly don’t need to be a former pro to take part. Teachers are trained to safely adapt techniques to suit the needs of participants, who they hope will span a broad age range.
Michelle Groves, RAD director of education and training, says: “Whatever one’s age or experience, dance can bring people together in ways which are as diverse as they are unique. Dance can unlock individual potential and abilities and, as our research shows, improve physical and mental wellbeing. Silver Swans classes are delivered by qualified ballet teachers who understand older learner needs to ensure a rich and fulfilling experience for all.”