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Bold Ballerinas prove that you’re never too old to dance

A new dance project has seen some incredibly bold seniors participating in ballet classes alongside happy little preschoolers – proving that age is truly just a number. Residents of Feros Village Byron Bay have been attending ballet lessons as part of a project called Bold Ballerinas, which aims to improve strength, balance and flexibility through dance.

At Feros Care, we believe that the power of dance and inter-generational connections can strengthen and brighten anyone’s day. Bold Ballerinas combines these two elements – it is a series of ballet classes designed specifically with the elderly in mind, joined by curious pre-schoolers. The project strengthenes not only muscles, but also human connection.

Ballet for seniors – A fun way to socialise

After a few classes, the dozen seniors – with an average age of 90 – were joined by four-year-olds from Byron Bay Preschool and, according to Feros Care Positive Living Manager Bec Stephens, “magic happened.”

“The ballet classes have been fantastic for the residents and you can see the positive effect it has on their mood and wellbeing,” she said.

“The residents already look forward to their ballet lessons and then when the pre-schoolers arrive, the energy lifts and there is a real joy on everyone’s faces. To see the way our residents respond to the children and the way the pre-schoolers admire and care for our seniors makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. 

“One of our senior ballerinas, Val, had to take a little break and two little girls went to sit and chat with her before helping her back to the barre with her walker. It was so touching. Despite the age difference, the music and dance had an effect on everyone and it was a beautiful reminder that we are inherently the same, no matter our age.”

Elderly people dancing ballet

Dance benefits the elderly physically as well as mentally

TheBold Ballerinas project is one of many initiatives trying to help seniors remain active and feel connected.

“Research has found that dancing improves strength and muscle function in older adults, as well as increasing balance and flexibility, leading to better stability and fewer injuries,” said Bec.

“Studies show dancing can also improve cardiovascular health, decreasing the risk of heart disease. Apart from the physical benefits, we have found that giving residents in our aged-care villages opportunities to try new things, rather than just being nursed, has immeasurable benefits to their overall happiness and wellbeing.”

Dance Dynamics Byron Bay ballet teacher Leisel Fitzgerald, who is also an aged care worker, said being able to combine her ‘two worlds’ has been incredibly rewarding.

“As someone who both loves dance and works in aged care, it’s been wonderful to see how the residents have embraced the classes,” she said. “At their age it’s not about fitness or becoming experts but being involved in the community, overcoming isolation and bridging the generation gap.”

“The seniors enjoyed the first few classes and when the children then got involved, they were over the moon. We also weren’t sure how the little ones would respond but they loved dancing with the residents.

“At the end of the day, if the residents and children are smiling during the classes, I’m happy.”

Bold Ballerinas is proof that you’re never too old to start ballet – you don’t have to be the best or the most flexible, all you have to do is simply enjoy the social exercise, the music, and the fun. As an aged care provider, we believe that our residents deserve much more than just TV rooms and classical music. Life doesn’t stop after retirement – and fun shouldn’t either!

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