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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Career: Uses of Ballet Background


tu2mama

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Having been around so many weight issues at school and at dance my daughter is very interested in going into the fitness field. This all came about when she was rejected by her dance department at college and she was trying to find something that she might be interested in for a major. She is very thin compared to the girls already in the department looking too ballet for modern. She is often accused of being anorexic by her peers due to her natural thiness. She worries about her over weight friends and would also like to help them. This is a lucky girl who has never had to diet. Her main concern is eating enough to have the energy to dance.

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I've PM'd tu2mama to thank her for bringing up a new discussion thread...and told her :shhh: that I was taking the liberty of starting a brand new thread with her post, rather than letting it remain an addition to an exisiting one. :grinning:

 

tu2mama, I say congratulations to your daughter for moving forward in her career plans and thinking outside the pointe shoe box, so to speak. Your daughter's years of past ballet training, as well as her continued study of it, are going to give her a fantastic background if she follows this path into fitness, whether it's into sports medicine, physical therapy, fitness education, fitness trainer, etc... There is a very broad market out there for people in this field - healthcare is becoming more and more prevention oriented, and there will be opportunities within the corporate and private markets, not to mention ballet companies and the like. :)

 

Can you tell us a bit more about your daughter's course of study?

 

And I can't help but wonder if there are other people on the board who have used their ballet backgrounds as spring boards into other professions...fitness, sports, medicine, arts administration, psychology, lighting design, costuming, business management, public relations, etc.?

 

Any retired ballet dancers who've taken their background and changed careers...any college students who have switched majors or gone on to grad school?

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  • Administrators

Our School Manager at WSB trained as a dancer and majored in dance in college. She had a lot of interest in choreography and also in Creative Movement, and she became quite expert at teaching Pre-Ballet. She then did her Masters in Arts Administration, and is now working in both fields, teaching and managing the school! She is School Manager during the week, and teaches all 3 of our Pre-Ballet classes on Saturday. And, she is brilliant at both jobs!!! :)

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I think that the dedication and discipline necessary to have successfully juggled school work and a full dance schedule will help her in whatever field she chooses. My brother danced professionally for 20 years, got his undergraduate degree at 40 (double major in economics and spanish) and now sells drugs in Los Angeles. Well, let me rephrase that. He is a representative for a major drug company. He says that the work ethic and ability to be flexible and adaptable (mentally more so than physically) he learned in dance has helped him immensely in school and then the workplace. And dancing in front of people has made making presentations to groups of people a snap.

 

I would also point out that in my professional school graduating class we had biology majors, music majors, english, history...you name it, we had people from that background. I think the school liked that because different backgrounds provide different perspectives and a great environment for learning.

 

So, whatever your daughter might like to try, I think the lessons she learned in dance will help her. Even if the field she chooses has no direct relationship with dance.

 

Mcgwillie

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Kait's LMT was trained as a ballet dancer. I cannot stress enough how beneficial this has been. She was able to figure out what was causing Kait's tendonitis of two years, when the numerous other health care professionals that treated her couldn't. She has also helped Kait with several technique problems that she wasn't correcting - because she physically could not. Kait's going to NYC for a month of classes, and she's out of alignment again from the past season. She's actually flying home to see her LMT, because she hasn't been able to find one in her city yet who can help her with her problems.

 

tu2mama, I join BW in congratulating your daughter for "thinking outside the box"!

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In our city, we have a former NYCB dancer turned Chiropracter. He does adjustments on my dd as well as many of the company dancers. He helped me immensely after a car accident. I am very thankful for him. He has given my DD good advice on occasion, too.

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At the moment the only major open in the kineseology department at my daughter's college is fitness. Exercise science and other specialties in kineseology are impacted. So many students want to go into sports medicene, physical therapy and coaching these days that this department is overcrowded. Business is also impacted at this school. Fitness is geared toward the health club and outdoor sports industry. It's a bit scary for a girl who hasn't taken P.E. in years to pursue this field. She also has a strong interest in zoology but she wanted something at least a little related to dance. She has another year before she must declare a major so things may change. She understands the importance of a college education both myself and her dad are college drop outs and could have gone much further with that degree to back us up. I fell into the trap of making good money at a going-no-where job and dropped out of college. Eventually I found a job for half the pay more related to my field but was laid off when I was pregnant with my daughter and never went back to work outside the home. I'm anxiously awaiting my chicks to fly and getting out there again.

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For every dancer on stage there are 20 peole backstage or behind desks putting them there.

 

Every major professional dance company has certain departments:

 

Production (all the backstage stuff)

Marketing

Development (fundraising)

Operations (usually the management of the company)

Finance (every company has money that needs to be tracked)

Information technology (everyone uses computers now and they need to be maintained)

Education/ Outreach (most grants are somehow tied to what you are doing "for the community")

 

There are lots of ways to stay in the business without dancing.

 

After years training as a dancer, I decided in my senior year of college as a modern dance major that I in no way wanted to pursue a dance career. So I went into technical work as a costumer and stage manager. After six years of that I moved into an office/ arts admin job. My dance training has always been an asset.

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There's a great article here from today's Seattle Times about the increasing specialization in medicine for performing artists. Many of the practitioners are former performers themselves.

 

(I should also mention that Elizabeth Fuller and Griffin Whiting, the dancers in the second photo, are Professional Division students at PNB School and two of my former dorm kids!)

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Dave, that is a really good article. I'd say it's worth printing out because, sadly, most of the time newspapers can't keep their articles online forever. There are some very handy links in there, too. Many thanks for posting this! :D

Edited by BW
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Well, having had a theatre critic in the family (full time livelihood) and currently a sibling who is a music critic (part time free lance), I can venture that you can use a ballet background to write about it, although, I would also venture that a writing career has a similar fragileness to a dance career as far as income and stability! Unless through luck and talent you land one of the prime spots! :flowers:

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sorry, not a mom/dad here, but I was just wondering...svr, can you give a little more info on the theater critic? I am looking into a similar career. Where did they find such a good job? What kind of education do they have? If this isn't appropriate for this forum, I appoligize!!

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Guest Watermill

And The Theatre (or TV or Film) has myriad possibilities for dancers who: understand the work ethic of pre-performance, have worked in a multi-layered performing arts org; know how to present themselves confidently.

Now having said that, making the transition from dancer to actor is fraught with great peril and demands a whole new regimen of training. But those who understand training can be trained: instead of barre one does vocal and physical warm-ups; instead of center work, one does scene study or improvisation or a monologue. And once the lights are turned on: I've noticed that ex-dancers have a special quaility, an extra presence. I think it comes from them being so comfortable in their bodies. Modern film examples would be Jennifer Garner and Michelle Yeoh. In fact there is an old theatre saying: "Never go on stage with children or animals." (Because the audience will only watch them) I might add dancers to that short list.

And of course all the same backstage and production opportunities are fortyfold if one is not limited to supporting dance but other performing arts as well.

 

Listen, the average life expectancy is approaching 80. Even if you dance til 40, what are you going to do with the other half of your life?

 

From the Footlights,

 

Watermill

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Guest balletandsynchro

Two of DDs friends from a prior studio made the switch from ballet to: MUSIC VIDEOS! :P Not surprisingly, both of them (boy and girl now over 18) did take jazz classes. However, both have had some success in the L.A. market - we have seen one or the other with Janet Jackson, and Missy Elliot. So...for the purists I suppose this is weird...but it has worked out well for them! :shhh:

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replying to coffee's request ... I don't get in to late tonight I will reply with one or more path to being a critic. perhaps leading in with a ballet anecdote from one of them to keep us on-topic. :shhh:

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