Dancing is not something that people get into professionally at later stages in their lives. Most star dancers have become stars young. This, while partially true, does not mean that people have to start dancing at the earliest of ages in order to become in any way competent on a professional level.
There have been dancers who were late to the party, but were still regarded and still are, in fact, as some of the best ever. Success can really happen at any age, but it matters what you do and how you do it. Here are the success stories which defy the perceived standards for dancing in terms of age.
Jose Limon started dancing at the age of 21. This is by dancing standards at a very old age to start dancing on a professional level. He was inspired after watching a performance by Yvone Georgi and Harald Kreutzberg in 1929. He was attending the New York School of Design at the time, meaning he already had a connection to art.
After that performance, he decided to devote his time to dancing. Just one year later, he performed on Broadway, in 1930. Fast forward 16 years, and he is already a successful choreographer and composer and has his own school, the Jose Limon Foundation, in the United States. Success comes with passion and work.
Martha Graham is one of the most well-known names in the world of ballet. She is credited to have done many amazing things, such as inventing the modern pointe shoes. But, apart from that, Martha Graham’s story is inspiring because she joined the Denishawn School of Dancing and Related Arts relatively late for a future professional, let alone game changer.
After leaving Denishawn, she decided to form her own dance, something which was raw and expressive. In 1926, she established her own school, the Martha Graham School. It is the oldest such school in the United States. She was the first dancer to perform in the White House and was awarded Key to the City of Paris as well as the US Medal of Honor.
Nureyev’s story is in one sense tragic, him having died from HIV complications in 1993, but also very inspiring. Nureyev wanted to dance since his early years, but he was unable to due to World War II. He started learning ballet at the age of 17, which is very late for such a demanding dance. He graduated in 1958 at the age of 20, but he was already a sensation in the Soviet Union.
He defected from the Soviet Union in 1961, and wasn’t allowed back until his mother’s impending death, in 1989. By that time, Nureyev was also suffering from AIDS complications. He wanted to perform until he could not stand anymore, which goes to show that passion and drive can make success, even in dire times.
Becoming a professional and successful dancer can happen at any age if you have the right drive, hard work and passion.