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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Choices: Hindsight in College vs. Company


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She will have the BSOF when she graduates, however, she will still need additional classes as prerequisites to get into PT school someday. With the ballet schedule and the number of credit hours they are "worth" a dancer has a difficult time taking additional classes during the school year to truly "double major" (cannot go over 18 hours a semester without permission and then depending on the major you have to find the class times). Not sure how many doors a BSOF will open as it is, if I'm remembering correctly, only 27 hours in your outside field. My dd will try to take a "May-mester" at our local community college to get a class or two out of the way each year, but summers also need to be spent dancing to further her training and keep in shape.



I am guessing PT is your DD's back-up plan? How has that been working out so far? I want to eventually become a PT to fix the broken dancers :) Ideally, I could pursue the degree part time while dancing professionally, but I'm also interested in doing what your DD is doing. Any additional details would be much appreciated.

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Dd is beginning her sophomore year at IU week after next. Yes, PT is her back-up plan and she was able to take two courses this summer at the community college toward it as well as accumulate several PT observation hours working for a PT most of the summer. No additional details to offer as yet. As a mom I am happy to say she is almost as passionate about PT as she is about her ballet. Hoping it all works out these next years and her dreams which have become her goals can someday become her reality. Good luck to you!!

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WOW!!! Congratulations dancinginthesnow! Your story really inspired me! I am looking into doing a dual enrollment for my junior and senior years and graduating as a PT assistant. I can smypathize with the "you have to go to college" because this is the same attitude my practical-minded parents have. What did you major in? I'm very curious. You are so lucky in the sense that you satisfied both your dreams and your parents!


Thank you sgmca and good luck to your daughter!

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As a disclaimer, I would just like to say that the "better" choice between college and company is highly individual, and that there is no "right" way to go about it.


I will, however, say that college was absolutely the best choice for me. Before that, I had attended a local pre-pro studio (no affiliated company), as well as spending four summers at the Joffrey Midwest Workshop. I knew I did not have the technique or the performance experience I needed to audition for companies straight out of high school, but I knew that if I made the right choices, I could be company-ready in a few years. Also, with my parents, there really wasn't a question of whether or not I would go to college...it seemed outrageous enough to them that I wanted to get a degree in ballet, of all things. I graduated from the University of Oklahoma in three years with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in ballet performance, and between my academic and School of Dance scholarships, I pretty much had a free ride. This was obviously strong motivation to finish my degree, since my schooling may never again have paid for itself.


I am now 21 years old, and have just secured an apprenticeship with a west coast company after attending their summer intensive. Three other girls were also selected for apprenticeships, and although they are all my age or older, only I have completed my degree. One actually dropped out of college this year because she had been having such a frustrating time. It is really, really comforting to see that there are other people my age at the same point in their professional careers, yet I feel so far ahead already having a BFA under my belt. Also, I had the opportunity to dance many soloist and principal roles at OU in addition to some corps work, whereas if I would have instead joined some type of trainee program, I would have spent those years dancing Snow, Flowers, Swan corps, etc. I feel that the responsibility and thrill of performing principal roles can give young dancers hugely valuable experience that they can draw upon when auditioning in a room with 50 other people.


The university experience is definitely not for everyone. It takes a heck of a lot of discipline to keep up with academics while still putting dance first (especially when you also work mornings at Starbucks :) ). People in the dance world are always saying, "Well, you can only dance for so long...you have your whole life to go to college!" Sort of...but it's also absolutely true that you can only have the real college experience when you're 18-22. Going to school with a bunch of other kids your age and growing up together is fun...cramming in classes at a community college while dancing and working a second job or going back to school at 40 seems to me like it would just be a nightmare. It really bothers me that a large portion of the dance community still scorns the whole college thing, and I'm glad to see more and more grads getting jobs. I think that a lot of directors are starting to realize that hiring 17-year-old whiz kids who don't yet know how to be independent is a liability. Part of being a well-rounded dancer involves accumulating a lot of life experience and responsibility, and university is a great place to get it.

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That was really well said FYBTara, thanks for your post. Dancinginthesnow: Your story is so unique and very inspiring. Good luck to you both!

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With respect to FYBtara and with full disclosure that I absolutely LOVED college, we also need to recognize that the "typical" college experience is not for every 18-22 year. Both my husband (30 years ago) and my son, who is within the "typical" college demographic, felt that a traditional college experience would be a nightmare and took different approaches while attending excellent institutions. Dancers who choose to go back to school at 40, or whenever, are only relegated to community colleges (which can be excellent institutions!) if that is their choice or if they did not fully take advantage of the high school experience and accrue a solid pre-college education. Many incredible schools (Harvard, Yale and Vanderbilt, anyone?) seek out older college students with some life experience. Choosing to go to college later in life may foreclose a few options, but most of even the most traditional college experience is available to older students, including scholarships, playing sports, joining clubs, joining the Greek community, and living on campus.

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I think key is that each individual knows themselves and what is best for them. And not to push your own college/life/dance views on someone else. They are unique in their own right. Remember, as soon as you start "not understanding" a dancer's choice, or "not understanding" the college attendees choice, then someone will come along and wonder why in the world you're getting a dance degree while you're in college. (with no ill to anyone who does, just pointing out that those who are naysayers will find something to be naysayers about...regardless)


Each of us looks at this experience through our own or our own DK's eyes and therefore will look at things like "college experience" or "life experience" differently and hindsight is a part of that. My DD and her friends from home discuss this on an annual basis it seems but without some of the judgement comes with it's dancer decision vs. dancer decision. When they discuss it (she is the only dancer), she looks at their life as theirs, with their own choices and consequences. And they look at hers the same way. And they are equally proud of the other for the choices they made in their own life. They have often asked her if she missed the "fun" side of college and she tells them no because she lives in a college town, so sporting events can be attended at will, college parties (if she desired to) could be attended at will and since she's in school, then that is covered also. She would tell you she would not be a fit for a sorority so can't miss sorority life and all that brings. And that the other things about college (personal growth, maturity, finding one's self) she did as well dancing. And we, because of her dancing have always viewed her schooling as her "job" and would in college also. So now the "job" she chose was just different.


In each chosen path, one can find things that one would say "I can't imagine". But that's on you, the individual and your individual choices. So it's best to always preface that "I can't imagine" with but "then that's not me". Then you will not put judgement on someone else's choices but honor them as being different (not wrong) from yours. Most of the time when you look in hindsight, if you have made your choices so that you have no regrets no matter from which angle to you come from, then your hindsight will be positive in nature. If there were bumps or miscues along the way, then your hindsight may be one of "grass is greener". As an example, if you went to college with the goal of getting a corp contract and didn't, then your hindsight might be you should have done it sooner. If you danced first and got injured or not renewed, your hindsight might wishes you had gotten that degree. There is no crystal ball, just your own gut instinct for your own life choices and all the crooks and crannies you hit within it. And if you're making the right choices for you (not someone else) then you will be at peace with your choices. That doesn't mean you won't have days of "what ifs". But they will pass so that they don't consume the choice of the path you took. Forever, after high school, our kids can change directions at will. No more "you're stuck for a year" that we made them do as youngsters.

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But what is important in THIS thread is to read what dancers HAVE done along their 'road to Rome'. FBYTara and dancinginthesnow have (very adeptly) shown us all that choosing a 'college route' CAN, in fact, lead to 'Rome'. That is something that while oft-stated is less-oft illustrated.


Please do read the posts, savor and acknowledge the experiences along the various 'roads' traveled by 'those who go before' and accept them for what they are. Please don't 'judge' them or 'yes, but . . . ' them. They are offered to illustrate, ease fears of the unknown, and celebrate the different paths. That's what we asked for when this thread started and that's what we still wish to collect.


Thank you to all who have responded thus far. You are all impressive and inspiring. Happy roads to all who go in search!

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Thank you dancemaven for your above post, and also those of everyone who has weighed in here. I was thinking the same thing as you---it is inspiring to hear the details of the successes (and hardships) of those who chose college, just as much as it is inspiring to hear of those who were able to go directly from high school to company positions!

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Yes, thank you dancemaven. It is nice to hear from college students who have been successful as well as those dancers who went straight from high school into companies!! Best of luck FYBTara and DancingintheSnow!!!

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DancingintheSnow, because I know who you are and I remember when I had to give you some Benedryl because I fed you something you were allergic to, or maybe it was our cat you were allergic to, I want to give you the biggest and most loving cyber hug! I am sooo happy for you and so proud of your hard work and accomplishments! DD is quite busy right now but when I tell her about this thread, in fact I'll email your post to her, she will be ever so happy for you! Lots of love to you, dear!

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Just want to add my thanks to everyone who started this thread and keeps posting their experiences. It is so very helpful to us (dd beginning her Junior year and looking ahead to college & ballet in whatever way/sequence) that happens) to read of these varying pathways, the "ups & downs", and the reflection that only hindsight can provide.


In our specific situation it is especially heartening to read of some of those actual "illustrations" of college student dancers getting to "Rome" as it were - since this is currently our "plan A". Plan "B" (defer college to be a trainee - if offerred) is also well represented here - but both are of course dependent on so many things out of our control...auditions, space at companies, space in college prgrams, $$ etc...I was looking at the updated list of offers for the BT4D members and saw about 3-4 females with college/BFA included in their route to contracts, perhaps the posts here add a few more to that number over the last few years.


To add something to part of dance1soccer1's post...I read on this very board recently about a program at Columbia for "older" college students (particularly those who had spent their 18-20s pursuing some other passion) - I think it was called General Studies Program. I have filed that away for future reference, as/when needed :)


Keep that hindsight coming!!

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  • 1 year later...

Just wanted to add from another parent of an 11th grader that this thread is one of the really good ones to read for this point in the journey. Thank you to those who shared stories here. It's so helpful to hear from all perspectives.

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Re Columbia University's older students admitted through their G.S. dept., from what I've heard, this year's population comes primarily from two backgrounds: former ballet dancers and vets. Interesting mix.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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.


Wondering what college??

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