Those of us in the Saturday morning adult ballet class at Casco Bay Movers studio in Portland recently learned a new word. To “balter,” as defined by the urban dictionary, is “to dance artlessly, without particular grace or skill but usually with enjoyment.”

Our teacher, Stoney Cook, shared this with us in the spirit of humor and camaraderie that pervades a dance class of middle-aged women and a few men who are literally putting their bodies and souls out on the floor.

At our age, we joke about leaning on the barre after a late night at the bar. When we turn to face corner four of the room, we refer to it as facing the Great Lost Bear, which is visible through the window across Forest Avenue.

Unlike our younger selves, we can take the heat of criticism. “That was so beautiful, let’s do it again. And I was referring to the music,” ribs Stoney. We can say what we truly feel. When long-legged Leslie gets praise – yet again – for her beautiful dancing, another classmate blurts out, “Leslie, Leslie, Leslie” in full Jan Brady fashion. “You are evil,” we whine to the teacher after a difficult jumping exercise. This is not behavior that would have been acceptable to the ballet madams of our youth.

Adult ballet class is not necessarily an oxymoron. Some participants inspiringly demonstrate their decades of training and talent (often despite sore feet) with the confidence, grace and groundedness that come with maturity. Others, like me, are red-faced, working hard to translate this very precise movement vocabulary into our bodies, while also trying to grasp the French vocabulary in our minds.

In December, Stoney set a combination to the “Waltz of Flowers” music from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker.” While I smiled and mentally checked off a box on my bucket list, others in class groaned and rolled their eyes, recalling years upon years of endless “Nutcracker” performances.

Mostly, we’re grateful. We appreciate the way Stoney carefully times each exercise to fit perfectly with the music, which ranges from “straight ballet music” to the latest Taylor Swift hit.

We appreciate the moments when body and mind come together to successfully make it across the floor with a tombé, pas de bouree, chassé, jeté. We may not be on the way to a role in “Coppelia,” but it is a joy to dance at any age.

Forty years ago, a ballet teacher steered me toward modern dance in a conversation that I remember included the words “body type.” I went on to love modern and all forms of dance, but ha, look who is back in ballet class now.

At the end of class, we proudly bow to an imaginary audience stage right and left, to the balcony, to the orchestra and, finally, to the king and queen in their box. For a moment, I am Gelsey Kirkland at a curtain call. Back to reality, I am happy to have at least baltered the morning away.