Adults dancing to benefit their health

(WNYT) When we think of ballet this time of year, we probably think of children dancing as sugar plum fairies in the Nutcracker. But that’s a narrow view. Just ask the ladies who are devotees of gentle ballet.

They range in age from 46 to 88, but when class begins they are ageless – focused on the steps, the rhythm and the grace of the movements. Add in a healthy dose of camaraderie and you’ve got a whole body workout.

“What I do is take out a lot of the jumps and turns,” explained Albany Dance & Fitness instructor Gail Tassarotti. She says she crafted the class for people with all levels of dance experience.

It’s perfect for Marilyn Valentini, who studied jazz and tap as a kid, but now finds gentle ballet the antidote to arthritis.

“My balance was terrible when I came back here. The pain of my arthritis was terrible. I’ve almost stopped taking the medications for the arthritis with the stretching here. And the balance has improved,” said Valentini.

It’s well documented that our balance falters as we reach middle age and continues to decline. Balance problems can lead to falls with catastrophic results.

At 46, Heidi Arnaud is the ‘kid’ in class. She first enrolled as an assignment for her master’s program, but quickly became hooked on gentle ballet.

“The mind, body connection. You’ve got to think about your steps and the pointing and there’s so many things to put together. And I supposes there’s a purpose. A nice little presentation at the end of it. And it feels good. It feels like you’ve completed something,” said Arnaud.

Everyone dances to the best of their ability, but one thing they’re all on ‘pointe’ with is the sense of community they’ve developed as they grow stronger together. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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