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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Choices: Hindsight in College vs. Company


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After receiving a PM from a mom of an IU grad I am retracting my post above and am optimistically hoping for the best. Ours is a more personal dilemma with the prerequisites needed for my daughter's entry into the college DPT program she hopes to attend. This school is very specific with the classes necessary for admittance into their program. We were told when we visited their campus that these courses will be difficult to achieve in four years while seeking another primary degree. She is meeting with her advisor in her outside field this week to sort through the necessary classes and figure out a time-line for the next three years.

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  • dancemaven


  • Momof3darlings


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  • marigold


I would not retract your post sqmca, you didn't say anything that has not been stated before by IU grads who were members here. It does greatly depend on your major how difficult it will be to truly get that "outside field" taken care of at IU. Some degrees are more easily worked around than others. That is something that has been discussed here before. Each person's experience is based on their input into things. So your experience has come from what your DD has experienced to date as well as joining that with the "outside field" she intends to graduate with.

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I am a ballet major in a fantastic program but I knew at the end of my senior year of HS that I didn’t ever want to dance professionally so my hindsight perspective may be a bit atypical. I love ballet and always will but I know it is not a career or lifestyle I will ever be happy pursuing. For me majoring in ballet has still been the best decision because it has allowed me to continue dancing at an intense level (even more than I did at my residential program during high school) but I have also been able to have a college experience and pursue another field I am just as passionate about as I am ballet. I truly feel that I have the best of both worlds and believe transitioning to a ballet free life will be much easier once I graduate.


Moasg, I am also a science major and I have not had a single conflict with ballet despite being scheduled to be at the studios for over 6 hours everyday, so it is completely doable if it is something your daughter is really serious about. The only down side is that I have gone to school year round since I started college which means very limited ballet over the summers. Honestly though, I feel like doing the science thing is made to seem much more difficult than it really is. The key is to be organized and research when courses are typically offered early on so that as you register each semester, you are also looking 3-4 semesters down the road if that makes sense. Feel free to PM me if you or your daughter have any questions about it.

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I didn't really realize when I saw this thread that it was sort of addressed to me and mine.


I am just over 10 years post HS (wow!!) and while I did the trainne route, when I did it right after HS the position was simply called "unpaid apprentice". Where there were two of us that year there were ten "trainees" within 2 years doing exactly the same thing.


I have posted extensively on other threads about my simultaneous college pursuits. In hindsight it's honestly hard to know what I would have done differently because things have already changed so much. I think if I had had a better knowledge of some of the quality college dance programs out there that maybe that would have been beneficial for me. But also for me personally, I did not want a dance degree, if and when I got a degree I wanted it to be towards somethng else.


For me the trainee/apprentice route while simultaneously doing the community college thing was really the way to go. It kept my parents happy and willing to still support (financially as well as emotionally) me while I pursued the professional career. And to me I felt like I reaped the benefits of both.


It's such a personal matter. I think some may really benefit from the additional training and experience some of these college programs can offer, while thers may be fne if they find a trainee program that suits them.


One thing I will say about the college programs though is that I can always pick out those trainees/apprentices when it comes time to do the contemporary rep. Maybe it's the broader range of styles that they studied at school that some of us didn't when we came from smaller schools. But at the same time I see them also (as previously mentioned by somebody else) having to put in a similar amount of time post college before they are able to start their careers.


In hindsight I guess I would have taken the same route if given the same circumstances. And regardless of changing circumstances now, even if I chose the trainee/apprentice route again, I would still encourage continuing your education. I know so many dancers that are doing it earlier and earlier in their careers and I've known many that are sorry that they waited as long as they did.


We're a bunch of disciplined overachievers, we can do both :)


PS. My last semester before I finish my BA is Fall '10!!! :o

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I would like to second what others have said, to check very carefully the time periods that classes for ballet or other majors are offered, and see if the two majors will mesh or not. I have a bachelors in nursing, and my nursing classes were offered in a weird time manner in comparison to most other college classes; I would have 3 hour classes in the morning or afternoon (from 8 am to 11 am, for example), plus I would have clinical for 8 hours on some days. Having classes in this format (long blocks of hours) prevented me from taking dance classes on campus; but I was able to take dance classes off campus, unfortunately, those were not covered by my tuition. But, I think that most science classes (except for labs) do not have as weird of a schedule as the nursing classes did, so this may not be as big of an issue for those interested in science. Also, other colleges may have nursing classes in a different format; I have not researched how nursing classes are scheduled anywhere else. By the way, I am not a pro dancer.

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Thanks marigold! There's finally a light at the end of the tunnel :P


My degree will officially be in "Dance & the Humanities" though the dance portion of my degree is certificated learning credited granted through a University for experiential learning achieved through my professional career. It's pretty awesome. But the Humanities portion of the degree has been through classes from the University (a lot of literature, philosophy, writing etc...) plus the 70+ credits of general ed and electives I transferred in from a handful of community college classes I've taken along the way.


I'm not sure what I'll do with the degree, but I'll be proud to have it! :thumbsup:

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Sparkles, thank you for your insight as to pursuing both dance and science! :wallbash: I think the part about planning out the scheduling of courses well in advance will be very helpful to my daughter, who (at this point) wants to combine the two as you did.


Pointe1432, congratulations on your tenacity in working towards a college degree!

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Has anyone found that dual enrollment community college classes during high school are helpful for accumulating college credits that can be transferred? I know that, depending on the course and reputation of the community college, many good colleges will accept their credits. This is an approach we are planning. I am thinking it will be useful for my soon to be 10th grader, no matter what direction this dance journey leads. And, should a trainee position be an option earlier than later, she will have had some college credits already under her belt.

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Marigold, we had a discussion on just that issue on another thread a month or so ago. I'll try to find it and move your post there. The discussion of dual enrollment will fit better on that thread. This one is more about the order of comany versus college or vice versa in hindsight provided by those with experiences to share.


I'm pretty sure I can find the thread for you, but it may not be tonight. :grinning:

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Thank you for sharing this, vagansmom! And congratulations on your daughter's success at doing what she loves for all these years and for her exciting college future! Sounds like the kind of plan many a dancer would hope for!

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  • 2 months later...

If this belongs somewhere else, please move. It may be helpful for people interested in this topic for me to give a rundown of my circle of dance friends, the paths they chose and where they ended up. There were a handful of us at the local ballet school that were considering dancing professional as young teenagers. The long and short of it is, two of us pursued dance careers right out of high school, myself being one. Unfortunately, both of us ended up with careers cut shorter than a year, one from injury and one from lack of contracts. Both of us turned to pedagogy study, and that ended up pretty well for us both, but neither of us preferred this result at the time.


Four of my friends out that handful of aspiring ballerinas were successful, however, and it may surprise you very much to know that all four began their careers after college. Of course, the colleges were very high quality for dance. However, quite a few years have passed since the start of their careers and these dancers are still going strong.


As a side note, and beautiful young dancer that I taught and mentored from the age of ten just returned home from her second year in a traineeship that cost many thousands of dollars a year. After her first year, the company made it clear to her that she would not be getting a contract. However, they invited her to dance as a trainee for a second year, filled her ears with music about how much she would learn from them, and against my advice she stayed. As a result, she lost her in-state tuition break back home, squandered a year that could have been spent in college or in a program where she actually had a chance of employment, and spent another year's worth of financial support from her mother.


Do with this information what you will. Chalk it up to exceptions rather than rules if you like, but I don't think these are coincidences. I think that unless you are a prodigy, companies are going to prefer a well-rounded dancer in her early twenties to a teenager that might still need finishing, and from what I've seen, thousands of dollars in a traineeship is usually not the way to get that finishing if you want a safe bet that will lead to a career.

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Well, I don't know how much "hindsight" I can offer per say, since I'm only two years post high school, but I thought I'd share my experience. I did dual enrollment in a community college during high school for 11th and 12th grade, so when I graduated from high school, I already had my Associates Degree. At the same time, I was dancing at a large pre-pro school, and post high school was offered acceptance into their trainee program. The school was in my home town, so I was still living at home. For the next two years, I did the trainee program and did full time college classes at a side branch of the large university in town, which has a schedule that can be catered towards working professionals. I just graduated in June with my Bachelors Degree and will be starting my dance career as an apprentice with a mid sized regional company next week.


Figuring out what to do post high school was a major struggle for me, because while I knew I wanted to dance no matter what, my parents were insistent that I go to college. The threat conversation went something like "Go to college and we will pay for tuition, but if you dance we will kick you out of the house and you will be on your own." Neither my parents nor I were fans of majoring in dance. My parents wanted me to do something "useful" in their eyes, and I just didn't see the point of paying college tuition for a degree that will not necessarily advance you in getting a job. I ended up applying to a couple of colleges and several post graduate/trainee programs.


Luckily, I was accepted into both the colleges I applied for and a couple of trainee programs, so the idea of trying to do both came up. I was originally going to just do the trainee and try to fit in as many college classes as possible, but because I already had my associates, additional credits would likely not be transferable, since many colleges only allow two years worth of credits. I then found out that the side campus of the university had night classes for working professionals, so I switched to that campus so that I could take a full-time load of classes to get my degree during my two year trainee program.


Looking back, it was an incredibly difficult two years, and the schedule was a bit insane. Some days were ballet 9:30am-7pm of ballet, while I also had 5:30pm-10:00pm of college. There was more schedule conflicts than I could count and I had to make sacrifices on either side, sometimes missing a class or rehearsal for tests or presentations, or missing school classes for important rehearsals (I also had to miss a show for graduation). During one rep, I missed about a month of one of my classes because we had rehearsals every night, but with some great friends/classmates, I caught up.


Would I do it again? I don't know. Everything turned out well, I got my degree, and I got a contract, but it was a rough road to get here. I'm glad I did it, because it opened up many possibilities for my future, but it was really difficult at times and I wanted to drop out of the college classes many, many times during those two years.

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Dancing in the Snow - I just have to respond to your story. BRAVA sincerely for your dedication and perserverance. I don't have positive adjectives enough to praise you on what you managed to do. I don't think I've ever heard a like story. And I also just want to say how sorry I am to hear that your parents were not supportive. You obviously had talent and dedication to spare. My parents, too, insisted that I go college if I wanted any support from them. Out of high school, I only managed to get an apprenticeship with a regional company. Meanwhile a serious injury worsened, so I soon thereafter made the tough decision to quit my professional ballet goals. So I am sympathetic to the extreme pressure that parents can put on DDs by wielding the "You'd better be able to support yourself immediately" song and dance.


Congratulations to you on all that you have accomplished!

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