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.