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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Companies: The State of Dancers in NYC


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This article should be the "poster child" for continuing an education after high school and why our sons and daughters need a skilled profession to support them in the arts if it is their passion. I know my daughter would love to have a self supporting career in dance and I'm hoping she does but her future will not be void of higher education due to the plain facts that very few can support themselves on just dancing for a lifetime career.

Thanks for posting , I'll be sharing the article with my daughter...

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  • 1 year later...

Interesting article...

It certainly is depressing to see how difficult the life of a professional dancer is. My sister chose to be a professional musician--trained at Julliard, Yale, the Sorbonne and ended up in a fairly mediocre orchestra that ended up folding due to financial problems. If dance is anything like music, it takes a lot of determination, and ability to accept rejection, to continue in this endeavor.

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It could be the poster child for a making sure they get a degree first or the poster child for valid reasons to defer the degree depending on where your child wants to be in 5 years and then again in 10. (or where you want them to be in relationship to your pocketbook in the same number of years)


Most of the dancers we know who are dancing professionally don't get to use their college degree for some time because the working hours are so different between mainstream jobs and dance jobs.


It is depressing yes, but since many of DDs friends graduated college last year and are back at home because they can't find jobs (other than the same ones the dancing child is working). In this economy, the degree isn't the end all if the passion lies elsewhere. It certainly makes for tricky decision making though.


Also, keep in mind the article is about all the types of dance companies in NYC. Not just ballet companies. Many modern companies are in fact filled with people who do work their day job and then come together at night to dance and perform. A much different scenario than those larger companies with staffs and some pay.


Still, it's a life you must highly desire to survive in.

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Good point--this economy makes it hard for all young people, whether they go to college, or pursue other options. Planning a career in dance is so difficult because the training is so intense during the years in which a child is in a critical phase of academics. Succeeding at both must be very stressful , I am sure. My 11 year old DD is an excellent student, and dances about 10-13 hours/week, and so far, is handling it well, however I am on the look out for signs of stress and will try to help her balance things when the time comes.

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glynis, if you go to FastReply or AddReply, which is below the line containing "Reply, then you can make your post without quoting the post above. :wink:

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I *think* I read the entire article :thumbsup:


Did it end with this statement ?


Of the 449 respondents only 15 have operating budgets in excess of $1 million with 18 others having budgets between $500,000 and $999,999. Most have budgets below $25,000.


In which case, yes, this is a very accurate article, even though the census was conducted by Dance/NYC in an NYC publication, whoever that is...I'll check it out.


IMHO, after dancing in a few cities (NYC, Boston, and SF), I'd judge the strongest dance center in these partcular three cities to be New York, and I will agree with that point in the article.


Yep, it's very very difficult to have a career in this, and I know a lot of kids who struggle. Modern companies seem to want more mature dancers, and ballet companies want folks of whatever age with serious skills. True talent can get you very far, but persistence (and some degree of talent) will also allow you to dance. In the second category, a backup plan for income or else a year (or three :yes: ) of support from parents or otherwise may be necessary to eat and pay rent.


Finding an appropriate trainee/apprentice position where the artistic staff is truly devoted to developing a dancer and will give them guidance is so important.

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Finding an appropriate trainee/apprentice position where the artistic staff is truly devoted to developing a dancer and will give them guidance is so important.


This is especially key! You must look at trainee/apprentice programs that will leave you better than you came into them in every facet of what it is to dance.

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I wonder if part of the problem in NYC is that there are just too many small companies trying to survive. I can think of several NYC ballet based companies that offer only a few weeks of work, with a number of unpaid dancers. But what if there was some way they could combine their resources...yes, there would be fewer jobs, but those jobs might really be JOBS (ie, paying a living wage, ect). I imagine this is also the case for the multitude of modern companies.

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I agree Swanilda, when I read the article that was my first thought. Because NYC is a dance hub, it could simply be that there, as long as you can rent space, you can give your dream a shot and people will come. Couple that with the fact that in NYC someone is counting and the averages might be higher or lower because of it at any given time.

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Good things about NYC


Many, many, studios around town

Lots of dancers, teachers, therapists, musicians, audiences

Easy to meet with other choreographers to discuss ideas, notators too

Extensive dance media (if the NY Sun makes it to next month!)

Costume, lighting, scenery, and dance supply central

NYS arts funding, but you gotta know the ropes.


Bad things about NYC


Rents (including studios) are astronomical

too much competition (comapanies, audiences, and dancers)

Big Ballet companies get all the funding

Everyone is in a union (truckers, stage, costume, dancers, musicians) and wants to get paid

Insurance is expensive

fickle audiences


Wonder why Broadway shows travel before hitting NYC? Cheaper and staying out of the spotlight of the critical NYC press. A bad review will kill you quicker than cyanide.


The NYT article commented about Modern Dance. Ballet appears much better off, IMHO.

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