AUBURN — The arts continue to flourish in the Auburn/Opelika area. Shelly Stansell contributes to this growth by providing adult ballet for women in the community through her studio. 

“I really want to provide the women in our community an opportunity to do something that they’ve always wanted to do,” Stansell said. “I want them to have someone in their lives that believes in them. I want to be able to affirm them, to challenge them.”

Class options include beginner and advanced/intermediate. Those interested can contact Stansell through her website

“Just go to the website, and there’s a form on there that you can reach out to me and I get right back to the dancers,” she said. “I always want to get to know people I want to know your story.”

Stansell has a history of more than 20 years of both teaching and performing a variety of dance styles and said she believes there is always a need for classes that support adult dancers.

“I’m trained in the Russian style of ballet and I’ve been teaching now for decades,” she said. “And I actually began teaching adults about the same time I started teaching kids, so I have been teaching adults all along,” she said.

Adult ballet classes are designed to help dancers grow physically as well as mentally. Stansell’s lessons encourage and teach confidence and mental health.

“I actually do a lot of coaching within the class. I’m a registered nurse and a mental health coach as well,” she said. “So we talk a lot about safety with our bodies, and we talk a lot about thought processes, how we think about ourselves.”

Stansell aims to break down the walls that typically keep women out of dance, specifically ballet, by ensuring her classes are welcoming and inclusive.  

“Ballet has a reputation of being fairly exclusive. The way that I have done my classes that is broken off, there’s none of that in my classes. We have every different kind of person,” she said.

With her holistic and encouraging approach to adult ballet, Stansell has seen her students grow in many ways.

“I have seen the students grow in confidence,” she said. “I’ve seen them get stronger physically, but I’ve also watched them mentally and emotionally get stronger.”

For anyone interested in adult ballet, Stansell said she wants “everybody who thinks that it might be for them to give it a try.”