At 82, Tessa says ballet's the best thing for posture, balance and confidence – it makes her feel 20 years younger. Welcome to life after 50.
As we watch Tessa pull on her ballet shoes and begin a sequence of warm-up moves at her local dance studio, it's clear she has all the poise and grace of a seasoned dancer. "Ballet definitely gives you confidence," she says, gliding her pointed toe across the floor and dipping into a demi-plié. Nothing unusual here you might think, until you realise that Tessa is actually 82 years old!
Moving fluidly from one classical ballet pose to another, Tessa tells us that later in life, ballet really is the best thing for posture, spinal health and balance. She says: "After a ballet class you feel full of energy, inspired and ready to do anything". The fact she's still dancing as an octogenarian is a testament to that.
You might think that dancing is the preserve of the young and super-fit. However Tessa's a firm believer that ballet is something that anyone, of any age, can get involved in – and thoroughly enjoy. If you need convincing of that, she explains that at her favourite class, everything is very deliberate, slow and really back to basics. But she says it leaves you with a wonderful sense of wellbeing. And that's something that everyone seems to experience, no matter how old they are.
Even at home, Tessa manages to keep fit and flexible by practicing a few simple ballet moves. She says the kitchen is the perfect place – just steady yourself on the kitchen worktop rather than the ballet barre, and you can run through a few simple poses while you're waiting for supper to cook. Now that's something we can all have a go at!
So would Tessa recommend ballet to other people her age? She nods and replies: "I think if somebody was contemplating dancing, I would say have a try, particularly now there are lots of senior classes around. You're in a group and it's very opening to the spirit to talk to people who come from different walks of life, but like the same things you do."
For Tessa, age is obviously just a number. In fact, she says one of the best things about getting older is gaining a new confidence – and if you can harness that, you're ready to take on life. She's certainly managed to do that and says she feels like a whole new world has opened up for her as a result.
Tessa says if there's one thing she's learnt down the years, it's that you can make the most of getting older if you have a relaxed attitude and aren't a 'stick in the mud'. Despite being 82, she says: "I feel about 65 years old. A force to be reckoned with."
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