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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A Dose of Brutal Reality

Guest Watermill

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I certainly don't mean that I don't take it seriously as my own dd is 18 and graduating from high school. We have been thru comapny auditions, college auditions and SI auditions in the past few months, the brutal reality is very real. There are days I ask myself why I didn't try harder to sway her into some other interests. These kids have such a hard road, even if they are fortunate enough to have a professional career.

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My oldest daughter is retiring from ballet at the end of this ballet season after 8 years as a professional dancer. She is 27. She is very happy to have had her career, met all of the goals that she set for herself when she started dancing. So, this is a very positive move for her. She has taken some college courses along the way but doesn't have a degree yet. She has already lined up jobs teaching for next year and will be making as much or more money for less hours because her pro career makes her a very wanted commodity on the teaching circuit.

I will miss seeing her dance very much. I have been very lucky. I moved across the country 2 years ago and live much closer to her now so was able to see her dance in all of the series the past 2 years. Still, it will be hard to see her in her last performances this weekend.

I'm happy for her though and realize that her body is ready to end this. She has lots of great memories. How many of us get to reach all of our professional goals by 27?

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Guest Chedva
How many of us get to reach all of our professional goals by 27?


Congratulations to your daughter and to you too, lillianna! The new challenge now is to help her craft some new goals, so that she always has something to shoot for, and the highlights of her life aren't ended at 27.

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lilliana, I hope your other two dancing daughters will be with you for the performances this weekend. :wub:


"Merde!" to your eldest for this weekend and for the rest of her life's adventures! :P:green:

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Guest unsoccer-mom

My daughter like BW's deicided to end her ballet career before it got to the pro level. While, I haven't posted much, I do get on to read occasionally. My daughter is working hard at school and plans to go to college for a degree in art. While she has not chosen a career with much more earning potential than dance, it is something that she can pursue for quite sometime to come.


I remember reading an article about former dancers that have gone on to Brown University enrolling in a program called RUE (Resumed Undergraduate Education).


Below is a link to the article:




One graduate of this program a former dancer was recently named ABT's Executive Director. She had been Director of Boston Ballet's Center for Dance Education.

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  • 5 months later...

I'm adding this here since it was talking about retirement and the salary levels for dancers.


This is from an article in the Wall Street Journal Dated Tuesday Sept 28th. Its been sitting on the corner of my desk since then waiting for me to get time!


After Final Curtain, Dancers Face Job Obstacles by Anne Marie Chaker.


It is "a study spearheaded by the Advance Project, an international coalition of dance Professionals in New York."


"It documents the difficulties inherent in the physically demanding, short-lived profession-- and looks at the kind of infrastructure needed to facilitate dance professionals' move to the next stage of their lives."


The study says the mean income of current U.S. dancer surveyed was $35K with dancer often working jobs outside of their profession to make ends meet. Those outside sources were about 42% of their total income. That makes dance income $20K. Most dancers stopped dancing professionally in their early to mid-thirties.


It goes onto say that 70% of dancers go onto make more than when they were dancing and that the average amount needed to re-training was $27K. Most dancers, whether they went through re-training or not went onto make more money and that most had dance related second careers like teaching dance but many went onto careers like real estate, nursing, insurance....


Just thought that this was interesting and a little strange that it was in the Wall Street Journal. I couldn't find anything on the web about the Advance Project to put in a link.

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  • 3 months later...

Thank you to all who have posted on this thread. My DD is only 12. She wants to dance as long as possible and hopes to be accepted into a college program. She also is very academically gifted and is already looking into ways to fuse her two loves. This board has been a Godsend! It seems to me that these children are very driven in most aspects of their lives. She is the only 7th grader we know, other than two immigrant children who are already trying to look at specific college programs and whether or not they feel the schools would be a good "fit."


We (her parents) are not pushing any of this. We most days feel like we're just hanging on for the ride. Luckily, by her reading most of these posts, she is getting an idea of what the real ballet world is like and how she thinks she might fit in to it. Please know that your DD experiences are having an impact and that your willingness to share them is greatly appreciated.

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The problem that I have is that most of my friends think that I am a mental case for "allowing" my daughter to dream and work to pursue it. Most of their children have been involved in team sports (football etc) that are not cheap to participate in.


When these boys chose a different path, did they see it as a waste? Of course not! The experience is priceless.


I have another friend who has a daughter that is on a highly competative college dance squad. She is placing all kids of pressure on her to "quit" and "be an adult". I do not regret for an instant the time, energy, effort, and yes, money that we have invested. My sweet girl looked at me on the plane, as we wrestled the taco shaped tutu bag into place and said "I don't think that I ever appreciated how much you love me." I wanted to cry as she continued, "thanks for letting me have a dream, no matter how it all happens, you have never stopped believing"


Isn't that what it is all about?? Do you need to be part of the critical masses, or the one that allows your children to dream and MAYBE get it all?


If I had to do it all again, I would. We have a great relationship, amazing memories and after auditions this year, maybe an amazing success story to share. The point is, she is already a success to me.

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WOW....thank you for this post.brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat! Most of my extended family think I belong in the looney bin!

But what is life without dreams??? I support, encourage, and hope to someday also share my DD's ultimate success....the contract she is chasing! It amazes me that she is still willing to put herself out there amid all the rejection and can still flash that dazzling smile :rolleyes:

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Thanks....they really are something special to keep trying. I am way to critical of myself to even THINK of auditioning. I think it also helps that I don't dance so there is no pressure to live through her.


dbleon, Where is your DD auditioning this year?

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DD has been accepted into the Austria summer workshop, which sounds like a truly wonderful opportunity!

She is currently in NYC for the month doing as many audiltions as are going through the city. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. She is enjoying all the dance performances she can afford to attend while there, along with all the "free" stuff NYC has to offer. :rolleyes: Including walking 4 or 5 hours per day...great exercise!

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