The Relative Expense of Ballet

Back in March, in a post about the verboten topic of diet, I mentioned off hand that watching TV for ten hours per week was probably less expensive than dancing for ten hours per week.

I suspect that I might have been incorrect.

If you don’t bother with subscription services and high-end equipment, then, sure, TV might be cheaper up front.

That said, 5 classes per week (at about 1.5 hours each; roughly the same amount of actual content-time you get from a 2-hour TV show, so comparable to 10 hours of television viewing) where I dance will run you exactly $260/month — and I have known many people who spent that much every month just on cable service.

Meanwhile, sitting around for an additional ten hours per week does nothing to benefit the bodies of people with sedentary jobs (indeed, it only adds fuel to the fire that is the sedentary lifestyle). 10 hours per week of ballet class develops functional strength and flexibility, improves coordination, reduces blood pressure and heart rate, and is, in all senses, an ideal antidote for the health problems that stem from a sedentary lifestyle. It also lets you ditch the gym.

Ballet also good therapy,  not to mention an excellent way to increase mental resilience and gain self-confidence. Not that I’m knocking therapy — therapy is great, and I love my therapist — but I’ve gained and grown so much through ballet, which is also one of the few things that can make my brain be quiet.

There is, of course, some equipment cost to consider, where ballet is concerned — especially for those who dance en pointe — but even that doesn’t offset the potential health-expense savings.

Likewise, watching TV at home doesn’t do much to build community (and watching TV at bars is even more expensive than dancing, unless you don’t drive, nurse one drink the whole time, and don’t eat any food).

Dancing, by contrast, is a great way to develop a bevy of equally committed, obsessive friends. I’ve noticed that adult ballet students tend to be intelligent, passionate, and good conversationalists. It takes a while to “break in” — by the time you’ve stuck it out in class for a year, you’ve probably seen a lot of would-be classmates come and go, and there’s no time to socialize in class, so dancers can seem standoffish and it takes a while to get to know anyone — but after a while you’ll become part of an organic whole that’s well worth belonging to.

Likewise, you’ll never suffer from boredom in strange cities — instead, you’ll hit the Internet and find yourself a drop-in class, where you’ll be reminded that the community you’ve joined extends far, far beyond the front door of your home studio.

And, if you’re lucky, you might even get to perform on stage someday, which is great for the self-esteem.

So it’s really quite possible that ballet is not, in fact, more expensive than television — and the rewards that it offers are far greater.

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About asher

Me in a nutshell: Standard uptight ballet boy. Trapeze junkie. Half-baked choreographer. Budding researcher. Transit cyclist. Terrible homemaker. Getting along pretty well with bipolar disorder. Fabulous. Married to a very patient man. Bachelor of Science in Psychology (2015). Proto-foodie, but lazy about it. Cat owner ... or, should I say, cat own-ee? ... dog lover. Equestrian.

Posted on 2015/10/07, in balllet and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. OTOH, not too many people destroy their knee cartilage watching tellie.

  2. Wait – some people spend $260 a month on television?! WHAT!!! You just broke my head…
    (Seriously though, I’m here thinking ‘Netflix is 8 bucks a month, and whatever we can’t find there is probably on youtube 🙂 )
    Let’s see, currently my ballet is running me anything from $75 to $125 per month (I averaged out the cost of my semester classes plus drop in class, and the higher figure is assuming I go to the higher priced but very enjoyable Basic Beginner class every week). Still pricier than our television viewing habits, but cheaper that many other hobbies and yes, therapy. Probably cheaper than a gym membership, and much more fun!

    • Exactly! Between YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime, the array of available content is staggering.

      Sadly, one of my old roommates was in that ridiculously-expensive TV bracket. We had fancy equipment, digital cable with all the trimmings, five zillion channels … and there was basically still never anything on that I wanted to see!

      The funny thing is, YouTube has tons of stuff I like watching — all the BBC content that doesn’t make it to the US — and it’s more or less free!

      I normally spend between $130 and $260/month on ballet (1-2 class cards), depending on whether we’re traveling and whether I’m doing any double classes, and it makes such a huge difference in my life that it’s worth every dime 🙂

  3. I always “joke” that my physical activities and hobbies are my therapy, but they actually are a huge part of my self care. And the cost of a class that is 90 minutes is way cheaper than what my therapist billed per hour for sure, haha. (Also not knocking therapy of course!) A good reminder, as I am feeling very broke lately.

    • Exactly! I can take four 90-minute ballet classes for every 55-minute therapy session and still have four dollars left for lunch 🙂

      The other day, one of my ballet friends and I were talking about the structural for ballet plays in both of our lives, and even my therapist thinks it’s important for me to go to class consistently. We can drive so much from hobbies and activities; it’s funny how as a culture we still tend to regard them as frivolous luxuries,when in truth they can be so sustaining.

      Edited for autocorrupt. Derp.

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