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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adjustments: Path curveballs and re-grouping


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Momof3darlings - thanks for bumping this! I have re-read all the posts, and I have to say - this is one of the most honest, informative and encouraging forums I have come across! I would love to see any new wisdom that anyone has to share - but for those of you new to the boards, or just new to this forum, don't pass up the old stuff just because it is old! Wisdom never goes out of style!

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DDs path is still evolving but I thought I would post here since she is a beautiful, 5'11" tall. I notice her resume says 5-10-1/2" :)


All along she was encouraged to keep dancing despite her height. She received SI scholarships to competitive programs and attended a top university as ballet major... but this year's audition season was unfruitful. She was complimented often but inevitably told that she was just too tall. We knew it would be difficult for her, but there were the doubting moments when we wondered if she should've taken a traineeship right out of high school or if her career might be over before it began. Her classmates all received offers (aside from a couple who decided they were done dancing). She told me she "wasn't done dancing" and that the audition season had made that very clear to her.


In the end, she decided to manage her career herself and see if she could find work as a freelance dancer. She moved to New York CIty a month ago, funded by her savings and graduation gifts. She pounded the pavement... found a place to live, a place to train, a subsistence job that pays quite well (including health plan and 401k), and will be performing with a small non-traditional ballet company (paid rehearsals and performances). She hopes to work on other dance projects too. It's been really exciting and encouraging to see this come together.


A few things have made a tremendous amount of difference. She has friends from all of those SIs that she has kept in touch with. A surprising number of them are now in New York and the ballet job came through a direct recommendation from one of these acquaintances. It would not have happened if she had not already made the leap and been in the NYC however. It also required being open to smaller companies and alternative performing opportunities.


I spent so much time worrying about her training during high school. It was VERY patched together, she went to a performing arts high school and, while she drove all over the area to train in ballet and contemporary ballet outside of school, her academic school program included modern, jazz and ethnic dance forms, along with choreography. Now she says it is a HUGE advantage to have diversity in her training background. (When I think of the hours I spend worrying/researching other programs, I can only shake my head!) Many kids from her high school are also in NYC working in dance, music, and theatre so her network is wide. One just won a Tony.


She belonged to a sorority in college and has another group of friends there... not to mention other alumnae around her age who are in NYC working. None of the dancers she graduated with are in NYC but they are all rooting for each other as they head in different directions and that support has been very helpful.


My realization: I think dancers in this economy who do not fit the traditional mold may have to be very lucky, or very entrepreneurial, in their approach to finding work.


Those SIs serve as so much more than a training ground... the kids who continue on become colleagues. People skills are as important in this field as in any other. Fostering independence in learning to negotiate travel and new cities is huge.


Fitting in a part time job or volunteer work, however limited, can give the dancer enough experience to land a good enough fall back job that they can work and continue to audition and train if the coveted job offer is not immediate.


I know this is not the traditional path, or an easy one, but the world is changing -- and my daughter is finding this approach very empowering. (So far, so good!) Here's to the exceptional determination of our dancing kids -- tall, short, or in-between.

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Thank you so much for sharing and Congratulations to your dancer for finding her path to dancing. :clapping::clapping::clapping:

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Kudos to your dd for putting it all together in NYC! Housing alone is an enormous challenge! Good for her! (If you can make it there......) I hope she has a wonderful first season as a professional! :clover::clapping:

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Here are some things I've noticed from watching our alumni and young professional dancers in our area -

1. Networking is key. I've seen more than one dancer get a job because of someone they know.

2. There are oodles of small companies out there.

3. It's good to have skills in other dance related areas - choreography, other styles of dance, teaching, Pilates instruction, etc.

4. There are freelance opportunities out there if you keep your ears and eyes open.


Now that DD is heading into her junior year, we are paying close attention to how things work in this fascinating world of ballet. DD plans to audition for everything she can and see where things fall.

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Studioj, you have an inspiring daughter! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story. I do think the world , and ballet world especially, is changing, and all our children will have to get creative in order to navigate their own paths in the world.


Good luck to your DD, backstagemom. My dd is also heading into her junior year, and I'm promising myself I will keep my mind open to the possibilities.

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What a great story! Thank you for telling, studioj!

It is so good that she kept at it and kept up with all the people she had met along the way.

I wish your daughter all the best! :clapping::huepfen:



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Thank you for sharing Studioj! Your daughter's wise use of contacts and situations, as well as her ability to accept her gifts and use them, is inspiring. Rising above "could have" to "am". "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail". Emerson


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studioj, your smart and beautiful daughter will go far no matter what she does! I am so glad to hear of this development for her and for you! :clapping:


(And I'll just add, that studioj's family graciously provided my own DD with one of those network-of-support opportunities a couple years ago, for which we will always be grateful!)

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What a beautiful and inspirational story! It's so encouraging to hear when passion, hard work and tenacity pay off.

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Wow, thank you for all your kind and encouraging responses! I feel so fortunate to have such great communities of support, online and otherwise, as DD travels this very dynamic path to a career. BT and all of you have been truly wonderful resources over the years.


Hope I haven't sidetracked this thread too much -- I look forward to hearing from others who may be experiencing their own version of these career curveballs.


There seem to be more dancers working on more of a project by project basis, although most of them seem to have done that after establishing themselves in a career with a big name company. We are looking for role models if anyone knows of any... We've always followed the career of Drew Jacoby, another tall dancer, who has done both her own projects and danced within companies.

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