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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Training seriously after late start


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I have been dancing since about age 16 after a looonnnggg time of not dancing (so it doesn't count). I have been dancing off and on since. The "off" has been because of many reasons, from being told that my late start makes it pointless to finances, and now I plan there to be no more "offs" since it's priority. I have finally been going through the period in life of finding myself, figuring out what I want in life, what to do, and the like. I have decided that I really do want to dance, I don't care, I love ballet and I know now that I want to do it no matter what. I'd like to dance in a company somewhere (I know national is very unlikely for me) and maybe someday teach or go into a different career afterwards.


Now here's my question. Where can I go to train and get the "education" needed? I am having difficulty finding something. I know CPYB is an option, and we've been looking into it but the area isn't looking good for employment and housing for us and no on campus housing, and I'm very worried about the fact they won't give me an "analysis" of sorts before moving there (as in can they help prepare me for a career or not), I'd really like if some place would. So we do want other options. I'll be 20 and that seems to be the biggest concern. I'd rather be thought of as one of the children or pre-teens than thought of as an adult going nowhere. My only other consideration has been SFB but they do not train anyone but kids (I asked). I'm really only looking for something in the northeast or midwest unless I am looking at "special treatment" or something (to be honest, since I really know where I am happy living and employment and housing is an issue). But you know, at this point I'll consider anything. Big plus if there's a residential program (not host family) in case the employment is like Carlisle and can consider just me moving.


Please move if not appropriate for this forum, I wasn't sure where to post it. (still consider myself a newbie here lol).


P.S. I know the odds are really stacked against me but it's what I want and I'm more geared to life long happiness than a life filled with regret and sadness. I have spent many nights crying over this since I've been told it's unlikely but I have to try. I have no delusional dreams of ABT or anything, I just want to do ballet forever. :D

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Here is what I think:


Call around to all the ballet companies that have attached schools within a day's driving distance of you, and ask if they will let you take a placement class in their school, and then offer you an evaluation. Tell them that you are looking for an honest assessment of where you are with regards to your training, and your possibilities of a professional ballet career.


The odds are tremendously stacked against you, but you know that. But I think you may have to at least make the attempt, if nothing less than for you to know that you've done all you can.

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I hope Lampwick sees your post, as I think she could give you some good advice. I hope she won't mind me saying, but a number of us who've been members of BT4D for a few years have followed her dedication & work as an adult taking up serious training again. It's inspirational! You might try reading some of her posts (you can search by member name on this MB) to see if her story can tell you anything. :D

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My experience in life (and I’m 63) is that the process of “going through the period in life of finding myself, figuring out what I want in life, what to do, and the like” never ends. I also think that the time in life to take risks and pursue your dreams is when you are in your late teens and early 20s.


Again, my experience is that when pursuing a dream location is everything. You have to live in the right spots, places where there is a lot of dance and where you can work to support yourself. Once you have the right spot, the “where to go” will work itself out pretty quick.


The other option to consider is higher education. I don’t think it is a bad option for anyone, whether dancer or not.

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Clara: Do you think the Kansas City Ballet school is worth a shot? Are there any in Chicago? I've driven cross country so it's not a bad idea, I do love to drive! hehe. I emailed Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre also since there is a college about 20 miles from Pittsburgh I'd like to attend.


garyecht: Yep, I know. But I think as we mature and gain more experience in things than we get a better idea of what we'd like to do. For ballet, the time is now or never, it'll be a dead end definitely once I hit 40.


Still trying to find that spot!


Oh yeah, I'm definitely going to college, just not for dance. I considered it but I don't qualify for most programs and most of the colleges I'm interested don't have dance programs. (u of iowa does but again I don't think I qualify, is top notch like utah?)

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At 3yrs i wanted to be a ballerina, by 8, i was crying every time i had a ballet class because i was so tired of always going to dancing and i wanted to play with my friends instead,(have a 'normal' childhood if you will) so i quit for a few years. i did return and dance (not seriously though) until i was 17 when foot surgery had me out for years. Now at 26 the thing i really wish i could be is a ballerina, but for me it is too late. You still have a chance, go for it. Im so inspired by reading your story. Don't give up.

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I'd love to offer some more advice, but each situation is so highly individual. What worked, and didn't work for me, may be completely different in your case.


I'll second (or third :D ) the idea of finding a place where you can 1. continue a "formal" education, and 2. train intensively with quality teachers.


Boston is a nice town for this. Some of the dancers I know take classes at Harvard extension school. It doesn't have the same requirements as Harvard, but a lot of the faculty/quality of classes is quite good, from what I've heard. :shrug: Tons of other colleges too. The entire city seems like one giant college town. Plus it's a town full of young people, and finding inexpensive roomate situations will be easier. Boston Ballet school with open adult classes, Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, open adult classes + a young dancers program (which you may be too old for, but worth asking...they're pretty open to serious students who might be "non-traditional"), plus other studios schools like Green Street.


I got my initial training in NYC. I was working full-time at a job which allowed me flexible hours. NYC was good too, because there's classes at any hour of the day. Whenever you can get to class, they'll be one going on somewhere. I've not encountered this anywhere else. It wasn't so hard for me to start out. It got more difficult financially once I left my job to apprentice full-time. Apprenticing is HARD without outside help.


The only way to deal with it is to take it month by month. I'm never sure what I'll be doing next season. Can be stressful, but it's imposssible to predict what may happen.


Good luck figuring it all out, and feel free to keep brainstorming here :P

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Kailyn... you're really not very old ;-).


Following up on what Lampwick said... Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre's Summer Intensive is "designed for students ages 10-21." You just missed it for 2007, but you could look into it for 2008.




In general, Summer Intensives are a good way to get to know a school, and then you and the school make a mutual decision as to whether you want to do the full-year program.


The Young Dancers Program at Ballet Theatre is meant for students up to age 18, but exceptions have been made in the past. Anyway, you're barely older than 18. In any case, you would get good individualized attention and training there.


Ballet Arts in New York City seems to specialize in training students who are just a little too old for most schools but want serious training: http://www.balart.com


Studio Maestro (NYC) I believe officialy takes students up to age 21: http://www.studio-maestro.com


The Ailey School (NYC) is always worth a look as well. They have a variety of programs for students up to age 23 and even 25: http://www.theaileyschool.edu/school_page.php?p=arti&v=85 Ailey is officially linked with Fordham University.


LINES Ballet School (SF) would be worthwhile, you would probably get very good attention and training there: http://www.linesballet.org/school/repertory/. They're an organization of the type I have the most respect for: they seem to have a strong artistic personality with a vision while remaining personable to the people involved.


OK, I'm not going to do all your research for you. There are plenty of opportunites for serious curriculum-based ballet training out there. But you need to dig them up, make the phone calls, visit the places, audition, and ultimately find someone who will commit to training you. It's really not as hard as you think, you just have to be persistent and not take "no" for an answer.


CPYB... from what I've heard, they run almost like a machine. Great if you fit, but not so great if you don't. You can probably do better for your situation.


As for housing: when you talk about housing on campus, do you mean a ballet academy or a university? You're too old for a ballet academy residential program, since you're now old enough to live on your own. So whether or not it has a residental program doesn't matter.


You seem to be looking for a dance guru to look at you and then tell you how your dance future will be in an "analysis." Unfortunately, that is not possible. I wanted it at one time too, and I never got it. The director (Jose Mateo, who personally trained me) was never able to tell me whether or not I would "make" it --- until one day he hired me. However, he WAS able to give me consistent feedback and work with me, and I saw improvement every day, week, month and year. It's a long road, and it's really hard to see ahead, just back where you've been.


Luckily, the question of whether they can help you prepare for a career is easier. You can just ask them, and either they will or they won't; your current abilities are almost inconsequential in that matter. Just remember that there are never any guarantees as to results, that depends on many factors that no one can predict, including how your mind and body take to the ballet training. Schools admit and work with many students, and most of them quit training before they reach a professional level, or they plateu and stop improving. If you can manage to keep improving consistently and you keep not quitting and you are studying in a comprehensive way that doesn't leave things out, then at some point you will have achieved a set of skills that can be used on stage. Some bodies are easier than others, of course, but there is nothing in the average body that PREVENTS one from attaining a reasonable level of ballet technique.


Good luck!


As for academic schools: my best advice is that unless you want to become a dance scholar or modern dacner, I would avoid majoring in dance. Other majors will serve you better for a lifetime after dance, and you can always learn to dance at a dance academy. I majored in Computer Science and later developed a professional dance career (while pursuing graduate school). Whatever the plusses and minuses of the way I did things, at least it has left me with a high earning potential.


Are you from PA?

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Some really excellent advice here for you, Kailyn. :D

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I just wanted to thank all of you for sharing your stories and advice. Like Kailyn, I danced a bit in my teens and started again recently (I'm 21). I'd love to pursue a higher level of dancing (not even at the performance level) for my own gratification. People always say, "Your body is an instrument" and I want to be able to play it. Sometimes it's good to be reassured that the instrument isn't too rusty.

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Best of luck to you, I wish I had figured out what I wanted when I was younger, Im only 26 but this is still to old in the ballet world/industry. My age doesnt stop me from taking class and enjoying myself though, I guess some things just arent meant to be, I had a mortgage at 18 and was working 50 hours a week.


Please keep us posted, hope you find what you are looking for :wub:

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