My name is Jo McDonald, and I am the owner and founder of Move Through Life Dance Studio. A dance studio that offers dance classes to adults so they can move through life, no matter their age, size, shape, or previous dance experience.
I got into teaching ballet to adults because of my passion to keep dancing throughout my life. I soon discovered that there were lots of others who wanted the same thing. And they didn’t want to have to do classes in a children’s ballet school where they were much older than everyone else in the class.
I started Move Through Life in 2004, initially as a project-based performance group, but soon I was offering dance classes as well.
The thing that drives me is the desire to give all adults a way to learn ballet (and other dance styles) that doesn’t make them feel self-conscious about their age, size or lack of experience. I currently offer in-studio ballet classes that have diversity in the age and shape/size of participants, and offer a range of levels so people can find a class that suits them. I supplement the teaching I do in class with videos to teach new steps and practice combinations that we are working on in class.
One of the things I love the most is introducing people to ballet for the first time, and taking those first steps with them as they begin to explore this beautiful artform and amazing way to exercise their mind and body. I also love the way that in the ballet studio, age differences melt away (as long as it’s not a dozen 17 year olds and one person aged over 30), and people in their 20s mix with other in their 70s, and they all connect with and support each other. They are all there to take out some time for themselves.
I started dancing at the age of three with calisthenics, but didn’t start ballet until I was 13 years old. I had to dance with kids way younger than me, so I know how much determination and drive it takes to keep going to classes when you feel awkward because you’re the oldest student in the room, by years!!
I worked so hard I managed to be accepted into the full-time Bachelor of Arts in Dance in Adelaide. But I only completed 6 months before deciding to defer. Like so many dancers in their late teens and early 20s, I turned my back on dance and pursued other interests. But once dance is in your soul, you miss it. I was lucky enough to find a way back into dance, and it has now become my full time occupation – just as I had always dreamed. The lesson I learnt from that experience is that it is hard to find a way back into dance, and since that time I’ve been determined to give other people like me the same chance.
In my 30s, I completed my technique training with the Imperial Society for Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) at the advanced 2 level with High Distinction. I hold a Graduate Diploma in Creative Industries (Dance Teaching) from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), graduating on the Dean’s Merit List. After that, instead of lamenting the lack of opportunities to develop my technique, artistry, and teaching skills, I brought the best teachers I could find to Move Through Life. People who have trained and performed with some of the best in the world. This has given me access to a much deeper understanding of ballet than I had received in my previous training, and I love that I can now share that with as many adults as possible. I’m now in my mid 40s, and work with adults ranging in age from 20 to mid 70s. I learn an enormous amount from my students and the changes in my own body as I age that has given me expertise in teaching ballet to adults of various ages, and ensuring they can participate in the artform and physical practice of ballet, regardless of any physical limitations that can strike at any age.