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Drop contemporary


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I'm thinking about dropping my contemporary class next semester. I take ballet and contemporary at one school and jazz at another. I get to take the most advanced jazz classes from next semester, which adds an extra class. I already have a heavy schedule, I don't only dance, but I also take acting classes, voice lessons, cello lessons, part time college and an nearly full time job to pay for it all. It's becoming too exhausting and I don't really like contemporary anyway. I take it because it was really missing in my dance training. I do musical theatre auditions every once in a while, so I'm not sure I really need contemporary anyway. Should I drop the class, and use the extra class for more rest and if possible an extra ballet class every now and then? Or should I stick to it, because I will learn things there I will not learn in jazz or ballet?

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You mentioned eight different things you do on a regular basis; each one of those can normally fill a person's time. It is really hard to get good traction in any one of them if you're doing all eight at once.


If I were in your position, I would ask myself:


1. What personal need do these classes fulfill? Why am I spreading myself so thin?

2. What are my goals? Career goals, personal goals.


I think that will help you focus, and then choose activities in life that help move you toward your goals.


Without knowing your goals, no one can really answer for you whether or not you should drop contemporary dance class.

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I have always done so many things, I'm an overachiever. That's just me. I take dance, acting and voice because I do musical theatre, cello is just for my own enjoyment. I don't really know whether contemporary dance contributes at all to becoming a good musical theatre performer.

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If your goal is musical theater, I'd say drop the contemporary. Efforts to incorporate it into the modern musical play have proved unsuccessful. If you weren't doing so many things, I'd say keep it, but as davidg has pointed out, you're spreading yourself pretty thin. Jazz will prove more utilitarian.

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Of course I would also say add a second classical class - one is not enough for anything and a good base in classical gives you the tools to perform better in the other genres. Our senior girls are fantastic at jazz even if they're not suited (physique wise) for ballet, because they've taken multiple ballet classes throughout their training. Our jazz teacher won't accept a student in her class who hasn't had ballet training.

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Hamorah, I do try to add more ballet classes whenever I can, which will be easier now that I've got a car. There's just no time for it to fit it in on a regular time.

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For a few years in my engineering career, I also did some teaching of group dynamics and team facilitating. (Yes, I know those are words that shade into meaninglessness very quickly in the corporate world!) One thing that sticks with me applies to both groups and to individuals. That is to "go where the energy is". That is, do the things that you are passionate about.


I think this lets you access your subconscious, which knows much more than anyone can bring in the conscious mind. But it also keeps you moving. If you do too many things that are not rewarding, you lose energy to do things in general. But as long as you are moving, you can change direction when you find a reason to do so because you are already energized.


For what it's worth, I was also a cellist when I was young. I always thought I'd get back to it when I had time, but instead I started taking dance classes. Dance has been so incredibly rewarding that I can't regret it. I would never have known this source of joy was within me if I had done the sensible thing and picked up the cello again. (I'm pretty sure I could have become a better cellist than I will ever be as a dancer - but not as happy!) Now I am thinking I should take piano lessons, so that when I can't dance anymore maybe I can be an accompanist! :wink:

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Ah well, that's the big question. If it were possible at all, the professional stage. I'm now at the stage where, at professional auditions they tell me, very good, but we don't find you experienced enough for this part. And at the point where I have to admit I'm completely bored in most amateur productions. Luckily, most professional productions here are not dance musicals (except for the Cats production every 10 years), but more focused on vocal/acting, though one does need a good basis in dance.

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  • 2 weeks later...

You have many interesting questions. Giving good answers to them requires someone who understands the musical theater business and how careers are developed in it. This board has a lot of experience in developing ballet careers, but that is different from what you need.


The best I can offer is an analogy. I once knew an amateur ballet dancer who was aspiring to a professional career. She had decent technique, but was frustrated in auditions. The reason was similar to what you describe: she didn't have the experience required (and that experience really does make a difference in terms of being able to do the job required on stage).


The way one gains that required experience in ballet is by being an apprentice in a professional ballet company. She had one such opportunity available and took it for a couple of years. Now, she is able to audition and get jobs, whereas before she was not able to. The apprentice experience was the bridge she needed to a professional career.


You need such a bridge to a professional musical theater career. I just have no idea what its specifics might be.

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If you're going for a Musical Theatre career, then you will need connections. Taking classes with the acting and voice coach, the agent, people who can help you get to where you wish to be. That, along with a million auditions, should get you jobs. :dry::D


Now, if it's a professional ballet career you want, then you would need to drop the cello, jazz, contemporary, college, a social life etc., until your teacher assesses that you've reached a professional ballet company level. Until the classical is there, you won't get a job in a professional ballet company, and you've probably got enough contemporary work under your belt anyway.


BUT for a professional ballet career-

There are also some practical things to take into consideration:

1. Do you have the physique/feet/flexibility/musicality/innate understanding/gift for a professional ballet career?

2. Have you had the training? Or at least, have you had most of the training by now? (say- a year of finishing remains)

3. Do you have "thick skin", mental strength, physical strength, an unwavering belief in yourself, and an ability to deal with the very un-democratic professional ballet world?

4. Do you have the financial means to be able to afford what it might take to even get that first contract?

5. Can you deal with the fact that a ballet dancer never knows if she's going to be working next season until that contract is offered?

6. Can you deal with a career that might only last 4-5 years?


If you've just read that list, and you're saying to yourself right now, "Yes, I have all of that and can deal with it, or I don't care what she says, I have to do this!", then you might be well-suited to a career as a professional ballet dancer.


However, if you were reading that list and it was making you think, then I would highly suggest you dance for pleasure and for what it does for you, and let whatever is supposed to happen with it, happen. Focus your energies on auditions where you're actually getting jobs- musical theatre- and work towards that goal allowing dance to be a secondary part of your life.


Get an acting coach and a voice coach, keep playing cello, and keep dancing! Directors have told you that they see good things in you, but that you're not experienced enough. Find out what exactly that means: If you know someone who knows the most recent director who rejected you, ask them to find out specifics. Write a letter of thanks to the next director who rejects you, and ask for feedback. Do as many shows as you possibly can; read as many plays and work at home on the characters and songs. If that means taking a few months off of cello lessons, then so be it. Or a few months off of contemporary dance, or whatever you need to drop in order to focus on the goal at hand; paying jobs in musical theatre!


Hmmmmm.... I sense that a decision needs to be made.

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Marjorlein's schedule seems to be consistent with what I've observed in musical theater. Ballet is one of many things she studies. I don't think she ever implied on this thread that she saw ballet as a more serious endeavor of hers than any of the others.


I have come to believe that to succeed in musical theater, you have to be "pretty good" at a wide range of performing arts disciplines --- and you need the chutzpah to put it out there as well. You have to act, dance, sing, etc. There are better actors, better dancers, better singers. But no one seems to be better able to just get up and do anything than those in musical theater.

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I would never be able to go for a career in ballet, I'm 24 and nowhere near the level I should be at to be pro. I'd love to though, and one of my ballet teachers would love me to train full time with him. But there is really no chance at all so I put that out of my head years ago.


I dropped contemporary, and now take advanced jazz instead. This is at a school connected to the biggest producer of musical theatre in Belgium and several professional performers are in this class. The teacher also teaches jazz at the musical theatre department of the royal conservatory.


I have a good acting coach and voice coach, my voice coach is one of the best teachers and musical theatre performers in the country. One doesn't need an agent for musical theatre here. There are things I do need though, like headshots and audition training. And I'm planning a good talk with my voice teacher about it all.

Cello is a 30 minute per week lesson and 10 minutes of practice a day, so no need for me to ever drop that, I find it the perfect relaxation.

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Well Marjolein, it sounds like you have a great plan!!!!! You're still young for musical theatre, and still have time to develop your 'voice'. Stay with it- if it's meant to be it will happen (especially since you're taking the necessary steps to train and prepare for it!). :ermm:

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