Graceful ballerinas in their 70s are hitting the barre in a new trend which is proving it's never tutu late to start dancing.
Almost 20 'Silver Swans' between the ages of 59 and 78 years take part in ballet lessons in Navan, Co Meath and are gearing up to perform the classic Carmen in concert in the coming months.
The classes at Butterfly Studios are specifically designed for the over 55s by the Royal Academy of Dance and help to curb memory loss and improve balance.
Grace Dorey (78) and Anne Price (67) were both delighted to return to ballet again after some 60 years since they last went to classes as children.
The septuagenarian returned to ballet classes at Butterfly Studios as a way of exercising after she underwent a coronary bypass last year.
Formerly from Devon in the UK, the former Professor of Physiotherapy moved to Ireland two years ago to live with her partner.
"I did ballet up to grade five as a child but had to give it up because my parents wanted me to study for my O Levels. I was heartbroken as I absolutely loved it."
Grace graduated as a Professor of Physiotherapy and travelled all over the world, specialising in lecturing on pelvic floor exercises for incontinence in men and erectile dysfunction and pelvic floor exercises for men.
However, it's only six decades later that she revisited her beloved ballet.
After my operation, I wanted to continue with exercise and thought of ballet as it's great for improving core strength and balance. I saw a flyer in a shop one day advertising dance classes and met with Caroline Kennedy from Butterfly Studios, who has been hugely encouraging and supportive
"It's so exciting moving to the same music that you remember as a child. My balance has improved and muscle memory in some of the moves has kicked in, even after all this time.
"Ballet is also fantastic for memory as you have to remember the various steps of each dance and Caroline make it fun which is also hugely important."
Grace believes that more older people should consider taking up ballet for the health benefits.
"At our age, flexibility is key to being able to continue living independently for as long as possible. Ballet strengthens all the muscle groups and keeps your brain active.
Ann loves all dance forms and was delighted to find the silver swans class.
"It's very restful, it's like mindfulness on toes," she laughed
"Dance keeps you fit and active. People can't believe at first that I'm doing ballet at my age but then they are 100pc behind me. Age is just a number and if this helps me stay supple and independent as I get older, then that's fantastic. I'd hate to lose my independence.
You're only as young as you feel and I feel like a child at heart when it comes to dancing
Navan tutor Caroline Kennedy herself only returned to dance after 13 years following an injury that prevented her dancing full-time.
The former US Manual Lymph Drainage practitioner subsequently studied a number of wellness therapies which she now incorporates into her teaching.
"I returned to complete my teacher training with Royal Academy of Dance and opened a school four years ago which offers classes for students aged between two years in the mammy and baby ballet to the over 55s in the Silver Swans.
Silver Swans classes are delivered exclusively by Silver Swans licensed teachers who have trained to safely adapt ballet techniques for older adults.
"These classes will help improve mobility, posture, co-ordination and energy levels and most importantly, allow students to have fun and enjoy the sense of wellbeing that dance brings.
Further information can be obtained at www.butterflystudios.ie or by contacting Caroline directly on 086 807 0691