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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Choices: Hindsight in College vs. Company


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  • 3 months later...
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  • dancemaven


  • Momof3darlings


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Hi dancingjet!


I originally posted ( post #12) when our daughter was a freshman in college. She has now enjoyed several years of dancing professionally, as an apprentice and as a full company member, since graduating from college. Her college days remain a highlight! College prepared her for not only a professional dance career but also for life. Selecting the right collegiate dance program, along with the dancer's passion, hard work, and dedication is truly important. All the best to you!


Blessings, deb

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momdeb - Very helpful and encouraging post. Our dd embarks on her college journey in the fall and she looks forward to a dance career in the future. Thank you for posting.

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  • 5 years later...

I know the last post was 5 yrs ago, and the first post was 12 years ago, but I just read through this entire thread and found it so incredibly helpful. Would love to keep this discussion going for the next generation of high schoolers considering their options of college dance or auditioning for trainee positions. I'm curious if the leaning people saw starting ~10 years ago of companies placing more consideration for college grads is a stronger trend today. 

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Although I can’t answer a lot of the above questions, I would like to contribute our experience. My dancer has been dancing professionally for 13 years. She did apply to college and was accepted but decided to take an apprenticeship in Europe instead where she has been dancing ever since. She always felt that she couldn’t do two things at once very well. It wasn’t until the pandemic that she decided maybe it was time to try college while the dance scene was limited. She has been dancing full-time for the past year and it has been a most exciting time for her pursuing college. She found an online college program that suited what she was looking for and she is now a sophomore, but still dancing professionally full time. She has met some really interesting people in her class (late 20’s- early 30’s) who come from all walks of life. They seem to be very serious students, many like her, who are coming from professional sports fields, their own businesses and those with families. I believe her online program grouped these somewhat older students together and the university gave wonderful advice on how to have a work/school life balance but still have a life outside of school and work, if that makes any sense. At times, she has had to pull all nighters to accommodate the homework/dance schedule but she is willing to do this as it is not often. She does have a lot of scholarships surprisingly. She thinks it will take her six years to graduate and she is in not in any rush. So if she marries and starts a family, she will continue to work towards her degree.  She did what was right for her and absolutely loving school. It shows in her grades and her interactions with her professors and fellow students. We are happy that she followed her gut on this one. 

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I’m so glad that those who posted recently decided to do so! Otherwise, I’m not sure when I would have discovered this very interesting thread (I tend to look at unread content, starting with most recent posts first).

Right now, my rising high school junior is planning to postpone college if she has company/trainee options after high school. She’s starting at a new residential program this fall, so we’ll see how her thinking evolves. 

Many thanks to all on this thread for sharing your wisdom!

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I’ll chime in here a bit. My daughter just graduated with a BFA in ballet, emphasis in pedagogy and business minor. She had friends that graduated when she was a sophomore and went to dance in a studio company position where they had to pay. Her friend stuck that out for 2 years and was never promoted to the company. And she was a beautiful dancer with all the aesthetics most companies look for. Not sure what she’s doing now. My daughter is currently dancing as a second company member for a small ballet company. The second company in this group pays a small tuition but my daughter was scholarshipped. She’s not gettting paid to dance. She’ll have to work a second job and is right now looking for that - new city, new living arrangement. I’m sure I’ll be helping her with support for a while. She did teach dance all through college and is certified in Pilates which she’ll be teaching at the company school. All this to say - a dancer who has other skills to bring to a company would have a “leg up” (haha) whether those skills are learned in college or elsewhere. 

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Yes, you can do both. DD (5 years professional dancer) started college classes immediately after graduating high school 6 years ago ...one class per semester during contract season and then full-time summer student.  She will be graduating with a business degree in 2023.  Many colleges have online classes that allows you to chip away towards the degree.

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I have story and perhaps it will help.

DD graduated early from HS (had just turned 17 that May). She did a mish mash of college classes including summers that allowed her to continue training and perform with the professional company attached to her school. She applied and received scholarships to several colleges (including non dancing). She accepted one, but deferred last minute to attend a post grad bridge program. After one year she auditioned out for summer programs and landed a trainee spot with a company. During the bridge year and the 5 seasons at her company that followed she didn't pursue additional college courses. She was too busy dancing (and grateful for it) although somewhat at odds with the company culture. 

When the pandemic hit she realized she wanted a change, got a job working remotely and moved home.

After several months she began sending out audition materials to over 40 companies worldwide. 

By some miracle, she received a contract with a company that offers free college and other support options for post dancing careers. Although it's not easy by any stretch, armed with perspective gathered over those years, she is now taking full advantage. 

Where there's a will, there's a way.

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I don't think I posted on this thread previously. 

My dancer started with a small number of college classes while in high school (homeschooling/online combination). She continued taking a college class most semesters while training and then during company life when she added a summer course. She's left company life and has been a freelance dancer since then, still taking a class most semesters. She has never expressed any regret over the path she choose. She has enjoyed academic pursuits that are somewhat different than her daily life and often finds ways to apply dance/art to her studies and has also done the reverse.  I do think there are times these days, as a freelance artist with a less predictable schedule that she wishes she was finished.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was homeschooled for high school, and graduated a year early in 2012. While I was in high school I earned a lot of college credits by taking CLEP tests (basically an AP test without the class). Then in what would have been my senior year of high school, I spent a semester as a ballet major at a university with a well respected BFA in ballet program. After that year, I accepted a trainee position with a company, and I had earned enough college credits to earn my Associate’s degree from Thomas Edison State University, which is well-known in the homeschool community for accepting more credits than usual from other schools/CLEP tests. I am currently dancing professionally with a small company, and although the path I have taken to get there has been anything but typical, it has worked out for me. Having an AA has actually been very helpful for me. Since I dance with a small company, I do have to work other jobs to make ends meet, and having a degree has helped me to get better types of jobs than I think I would have with just a high school diploma. Also, because CLEP tests are inexpensive and because I received a good amount of scholarship money for ballet and academics during the semester that I attended college, I was able to pay off my student loans at the age of 21 while living on a dancer’s budget.

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