Golden Swans, senior women in Oklahoma City, are taking beginner and intermediate ballet classes at the Oklahoma City Ballet. The courses are specifically designed for dancers over 50 and are taught twice a week by ballet pro-Macaira Pinto, free of charge. The classes range in size from four to 24 participants and focus on learning pliés, tendus, and relevés. Pinto emphasizes the importance of granting oneself grace, literally and metaphorically, and encourages her students to find their versions of dance moves like the grand battement, where lifting the leg high is not about perfection but about doing what feels comfortable for each individual.
She explains, “The key to Golden Swans is that every Swan knows it’s within what they feel they can do. The goal is to improve their posture, balance, and flexibility so that they feel beautiful and feel beautiful.”
The Golden Swans program, named after the famous ballet “Swan Lake,” honors its 50-plus-age students and the program’s 50-year anniversaries. It was founded in 2015 by Laura Jane Ward, one of Pinto’s childhood instructors. Although Ward passed away last year, Pinto continues to teach the program and focus on essential skills for seniors, such as flexibility, posture, and stability, which are also crucial for ballerinas. As people age, these skills become increasingly important for balance and fall prevention, contributing to maintaining independence.
Golden Swans has expanded since its inception and now offers classes at over five locations in the metro area, including retirement living centers. Similar courses are available at ballet studios nationwide. The program is highly valued by the Oklahoma women who participate, and they have even adapted to technology to access the studio remotely when needed.
Golden Swans offers more than just physical benefits to its members. The classes provide a supportive community, as seen through Brawner’s experience. Throughout her hardships, her Swan friends have checked in on her and provided rides to school. Brawner has faced multiple challenges, including the loss of her husband and her son’s dementia. She visits her current partner every day at his assisted living facility.