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Ballet Talk for Dancers

College vs. Company


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I am really torn between going to college and dancing in a company. I love ballet so much :wub: and it's something I want to pursue. However, my parents want me to go to college and I know that I'll need another career once I'm to old to dance. :D Does anyone have any suggestions of what I should do? :shrug:

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There have been a lot of threads about this, but here's my two cents on the topic:

More and more companies are taking people out of college-companies want mature dancers, and they don't have the money to take chances. The average age of people at auditions is getting older, as fewer people are being accepted into companies straight out of high school. For most people right now who want to dance professionally, it seems like there are two options: either go to a college with a very good dance program, or enter a residency program to be "finished" so to speak. The advantage to the residency track is that usually it won't take 4 years, you'd be auditioning every year, you'd be dancing all day every day, and you'd be in a company affiliated school, so you might have a "shoestring" into the company. The advantage of going to college is that you have a backup plan after ballet-so many dancers get injured and have to quit, or don't make it, and even if they do, dance is indisputably a short lived career. The other advantage of going to college straight out of high school is that even if you do go back to school after you dance, there is something to be said for the "college experiance," which may or may not be important to you, but is a really formative time in many people's lives. There are many colleges that have great dance programs and give you the chance to really become a mature artist, to perform a lot, to make connections with people in the dance world, and to experiment in different styles. However, some people either are not academically oriented, or simply want to put all of their energies into dance-while things are changing, in the major companies (ABT, NYCB, etc) very few of the dancers have gone to college. So it does depend on what your goals are, and also on how good you are at the end of high school.

For me, I made the decision to go to college before auditioning. I made this decision for a few reasons:

-I am very academically oriented as well as very committed to dance, so going to college was something that really excited me.

-I found a college that could give me a great education, great dance, and the "college experience"

-I had many conversations with my teacher, who told me that she thought I definatly needed more training before getting into a company, and i could either do that through a residency or through a college program-the college definatly won out for me because of academics

-I want to have a back up plan for when i stop dancing

-My parents really encouraged me to go to college


I'm only a senior now (just found out that I got into the college I'm talking about!) but I feel really good about this decision, and I don't think that it will preclude me getting into a company, I think that it will just get me really ready to be in a company.

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dancing with passion, I think if it's time you should do Company auditions but apply to colleges as well as back up. If that's what you want, give it a go now.

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Guest Vicarmac

I saw from the SI forum you are only 14 and have not yet gone to a SI. I do not think at this age you should make a commitment one way or the other. If you just blow off college plans and taking the courses and getting the grades to get in the colleges you would want it will be hard to undo the damage. But if you keep that option open you can apply to colleges and audtion at the same time and defer enrollment even. One never knows what things might change in the next couple of years, injuries, changing goals etc, so right now keep those options open and keep making college plans at the same time (plus it will cause less strife with the 'rents while in high school :blushing: )

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  • 1 month later...

In another discussion, I had the pleasure of coming across Ed McPherson's ballet related blog: Onward and Upward ,one of his older pieces, from 2005, is an interview with a professional dancer who did choose the college route first. I thought you might enjoy reading this dancers interview: Shannon Ricks . Be sure to read the whole interview - all food for thought for those who are weighing their options while still in high school or while in the midst of the audition cycle. :wink:

Edited by BW
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Another article that has been mentioned before appeared in the new york times this winter, Practice, Practice, Practice, Go to College? Maybe. In which Mark Morris explains why he doesnt think college is a good idea, even though many of his dancers have come from college. :lol:


They ask you to pay for it now online, but most libraries and educational institutions have subscriptions to these past articles.

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Don't know if this will be helpfull, but I am in my final year of high school now. I am planning to study Musical Theatre, because I enjoy singing and acting. (Dancing is my great passion, though! :lol: ) I had considered skipping the college thing, until I realized that I might get injured in a couple of years (touch wood!), and find myself with nothing to fall back on. This way, I will still have the option of teaching (and not only ballet) if anything happens.

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