Is it too late to become a dancer at 14?

Many young people dream of becoming professional dancers. However, some feel like they may have missed their chance if they haven’t seriously pursued dance training by their early teens. So is 14 too late to start down the path of becoming a dancer?

Quick Answer

No, it’s not too late to become a dancer at age 14. While many aspiring dancers do start lessons as young children, 14 is still young enough to begin training and have a successful dance career. With dedication and hard work, it’s possible to catch up to peers who have been dancing longer.

Is 14 Too Old to Start Dancing?

Fourteen is still considered young in the dance world. While many professional dancers do begin lessons between the ages of 5 and 10, starting at 14 does not preclude someone from reaching an elite level. Passion, drive, and natural ability still matter more than the age at which someone first begins dancing.

There are many examples of successful dancers who started their training at 14 or even older:

  • Misty Copeland began ballet lessons at age 13 and is now the first African American female principal dancer at American Ballet Theatre.
  • Gene Kelly did not begin dancing until age 15, yet had a hugely popular and influential dance career in Hollywood.
  • Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century, started ballet training at age 15 after beginning his dance studies in folk dance.

While these dancers had raw talent on their side, they prove that beginning dance at 14 or later does not have to hold someone back from excelling.

Benefits of Starting Dance at 14

There are some potential advantages to beginning dance training at 14 versus a younger age:

  • Physical maturity. The body is close to full adult development by the mid-teens. This physical maturity can be an asset for absorbing more rigorous dance training.
  • Mental maturity. By their mid-teens, most young people have gained discipline, focus, and determination. These traits help dancers persevere through challenging training and commit fully to mastering their art.
  • Life experience. Individuals who start dancing at 14 have more life experiences to draw on in their artistry and interpretation.
  • Passion. Those who start dancing at 14 likely have a burning internal motivation. This passion propels them to work hard and accelerate their training.

While dancers who begin earlier do have more time to hone their technique, starting later brings unique strengths.

Challenges of Beginning Dance at 14

There are some potential obstacles facing a 14-year-old new to dance training:

  • Less experience. Most 14-year-old beginners will have less dance experience than their peers who have been training for years. They have more catching up to do in terms of technique and skill.
  • Strength/flexibility. Later starters may need to spend extra time developing dance-specific strength and flexibility, especially for ballet.
  • Habits. Those new to dance will need to learn proper alignment, posture, and other foundational habits. It can be challenging to correct poor habits.
  • Confidence. Some new dancers may feel self-conscious next to more experienced peers and need encouragement to build confidence.

However, awareness of these obstacles can help new dancers at 14 address any weak areas through extra hard work and perseverance.

Tips for Starting Dance at 14

Here are some tips to help a 14-year-old beginner succeed in dance:

  1. Take classes multiple days per week to progress quickly.
  2. Bring a focused, attentive attitude to absorb as much as possible from each class.
  3. Ask the teacher for feedback on how to improve.
  4. Take extra conditioning classes to build necessary strength and flexibility.
  5. Watch videos and performances to expose yourself to proper technique and artistry.
  6. Set short-term goals to stay motivated as you work toward bigger aspirations.
  7. Believe in your abilities and potential.

Best Dance Styles to Start at 14

Certain dance genres may be easier starting points than others for a beginning 14-year-old dancer:


Ballet requires extensive training from a young age. However, starting pointe work around age 14 is common, so teens can still catch up in ballet. Progress may be faster with extra stretching, Pilates, and strengthening.


The versatility of jazz dance makes it a good option for beginners. Classes teach important technique while embracing freedom of expression.


This expressive style combines ballet and modern techniques. The focus on emotional execution and improvisation suits teens’ maturity.

Hip Hop

Hip hop’s popularity makes it enticing for beginners. Classes offer a fun atmosphere for learning rhythm, body isolations, and choreography.

Styles like tap may involve more difficulty catching up with intricate footwork. But potential, not age, should dictate what type of dance to pursue.

Training and Classes for New Dancers at 14

Here are some types of dance training useful for a beginning 14-year-old dancer:

Private Lessons

Private lessons allow tailored instruction to work on weak areas and quicken the learning curve. Some dance studios offer discounted packages of private lessons.

Summer Intensives

Summer dance intensives provide concentrated training, typically lasting 2-6 weeks on average. Programs are structured for pre-professional dancers.

Dance Camps

Dance camps offer technique classes within a fun social environment. Public and private camps may be specifically for teens.

Dance Teams

School, community, and professional dance teams teach choreography in a team environment. Hip hop crews and companies provide similar training.


Taking master classes and workshops exposes new dancers to world-class instructors. Short intensives range from one day to 1-2 weeks.

Any quality dance training in a nurturing yet challenging atmosphere will help dedicated teens progress.

Professional Options for Dancers Starting at 14

Here are some potential paths to pursue professionally with the right training and commitment:

Community Dance Artist

Teach classes, perform locally, and choreograph for community theaters and events.

Theme Park Entertainer

Perform in shows, parades, and character interactions at theme and amusement parks.

Cruise Ship Entertainer

Sing, dance and act in production shows aboard cruise lines.

Music Videos

Appear as a dancer in music videos for pop artists, rappers, and rock bands.

Television and Film

Work as a dancer and/or choreographer on television shows, movies, or commercials.

Concert Tours

Perform on tour with major pop, R&B, and hip hop artists.

Competitive Dance

On a competition team, troupe, or crew competing at regional and national events.

Any dancer who trains professionally can find performance opportunities, though a very high skill level is needed for elite concert and theater careers.

Success Stories of Dancers Who Started Late

It’s helpful to look at dancers who did not begin training until their mid or late teens but still found success:

Rudolf Nureyev

This prima ballet dancer started training at age 17 and became one of the world’s greatest performers and choreographers.

Sutton Foster

The Broadway star began lessons at age 15 and has won two Tony Awards for her lead roles in musical theater.

Alvin Ailey

Modern dance pioneer Ailey did not start formal dance until age 17. He formed the influential Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Cyd Charisse

Starting ballet at age 13 after recovering from polio, her career included fame as a dancer in Hollywood musicals.

It’s evident even famous dancers had modest beginnings, proving it’s never too late to start pursuing your passion.

Advice From Dance Pros on Starting Later

Expert dancers and instructors offer this advice to teens beginning at 14:

  • “Stay patient and keep working hard. You’ll get where you want to be.” – Misty Copeland
  • “Use your maturity to your advantage. Tap into emotions and storytelling.” – Debbie Allen
  • “Never compare yourself to other students. Focus on your own progress.” – Wendy Whelan
  • “Trust the process. You will catch up with focused, quality training.” – Irine Fokine
  • “Immerse yourself. Take extra classes, watch videos, take notes. Learning never stops.” – Derek Mitchell

No matter your age, dedicating yourself to quality training and believing in yourself are key according to the pros.

The Reality of Pursuing Professional Dance

Making dance a career takes immense commitment no matter when you start. Possible realities aspiring teens should know include:

  • Intense, daily classes and conditioning needed to build elite skills
  • Potential for rejection at auditions and competitions
  • Possibility of injury from overuse or pushing too hard
  • Large time commitment with little free time
  • Financial uncertainty and investment in classes, headshots, etc.
  • No guarantees of full-time professional work

The realities require mental strength and a fallback plan. But they should not deter hard workers from trying to achieve their dream.

Talking to Parents About Wanting to Dance

Here are tips for a 14-year-old to discuss wanting to pursue dance more seriously with parents:

  • Come prepared by researching training options and associated costs.
  • Present your commitment to dance and desire to see how far you can progress.
  • Emphasize the benefits of dance like discipline, confidence, artistry, physical fitness.
  • Acknowledge the realities but highlight that those who work hard can succeed.
  • Offer to contribute money earned from babysitting, chores, a part-time job.
  • Suggest trying an intensive first to test your skills and interest.
  • Agree to maintain good grades and responsibilities at home.
  • Be open to starting with a class or two and adding more over time.

Compromise with parents may be necessary at first. But your passion may win out as you prove your dedication over time.

Preparing Your Body to Begin Dance at 14

Some tips for new 14-year-old dancers to physically prepare their bodies:

  • Take Pilates, yoga or Gyrotonics to increase core strength, balance, and flexibility.
  • Strengthen legs with squats, lunges, and calf raises.
  • Use resistance bands to activate and tone all muscle groups.
  • Stretch major muscle groups like hamstrings, hips, and back several times per week.
  • Focus on correct turnout by externally rotating from the hips.
  • Improve endurance with aerobic exercise like swimming, cycling, running.
  • Cross train between dance classes with cardio, weights, and somatic exercises.
  • Pay attention to nutrition and hydration for energy to train vigorously.

Consulting a physical therapist who understands dancers’ needs can also provide guidance on the best ways to condition your body.


Starting dance at 14 or any age does not preclude someone from achieving at a high level or pursuing it professionally. While intensive training from a young age is ideal, passion and work ethic matter far more. Teens who start at 14 with the right drive and access to quality training have plenty of time to close any experience gap. With perseverance and belief in themselves, they can attain their dancing dreams.

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