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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Again with the priorities...


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Over the last year, I've gone back to ballet after a three year break, found that I was still very much in tact for dancing and have been receiving financial support from my parents to keep up this hobby.

My teacher believes that if I commit to my classes that I will be able to find a dance job as I have the right body for it.


As an adult though, I feel sometimes like the pursuit of a career this late in my life is very risky and at times I just don't feel like it's worth it.

I teach for a living and I have always thoroughly enjoyed that and feel like that is the main aspect in dance that I want to work in.

I started taking classes again to improve my teaching, not so that I could become a professional dancer, as much as I would have loved that.


This year has been very tense between my parents and I however, and I no longer feel like it's appropriate to ask them for financial help to pay for my classes.

I am moving right now and have taken the week off (not from work, however, just from class) so that I can get settled into my new home.

I went on vacation last spring and my teacher was incredibly upset with me because he wanted to give me a bigger part during recital and he doesn't like for me to miss summer classes either because the training time is valuable.

I feel like I can't ever get a break to save up some cash or gain a couple of pounds (which I need!) and I'm starting to wonder what I should be aiming for here.


I don't want to turn down the idea of a dance career if I could get one but, trying to juggle moving out of my parent's house and become financially responsible for just everyday things, while trying to get a dance job, seems near impossible.

This teacher has done wonders for my self-esteem as a dancer because at my old school they told me I just didn't have what it took to train pre-professionally and wouldn't ever give me a solid reason why and as a child I had some serious body-image issues because I couldn't imagine them having a problem with anything else.

And my current teacher says every day that I have the perfect instrument, and that I just need to train it.

He has given me the fair chance I've always wanted but sometimes I feel like I'm too old to meet his expectations.

I'm rambling but that's the basic jist of things. Any advice?


And P.S. I am twenty, for those who don't know. My dad is very concerned that I am doing this instead of going to college right now as well as the many other issues going on.

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Well twenty is not that old if you are almost ready. I think that you are trying to take on too many things at once. I suggest, if you aren't already, reading the threads on here that have to do with pre-pro and dance careers. It takes over 100% dedication to it and dancers and their families make many sacrifices. From what you posted here it seems like you want to be on your own at twenty and not dependent on your parents. That is of course, very admirable. However, from my own experience as a professional singer and from what I have read on here and elsewhere, it is extremely hard to do that while pursuing a professional dance performing career unless you have a trust fund or a husband, a patron, school, or someone (family) willing to subsidize your rent or some other expenses. The big jobs rarely come right away and there is a period of taking low paying work as a professional performer--and also taking day jobs. And day jobs that are not in dance are less feasible for dancers because they need to spend a lot of time in actual rehearsals and classes. If you are worn out from working elsewhere it is hard to dance at a high level consistently. Reading some of the other threads here it is common for young dancers' parents to support them until (if ever) they get a full time paying dance position in a good company. I lived at home with my mom when I was still living in NYC for my performing career. There was no way I could have afforded to pay rent and do auditions, lessons, etc. Even though she did not give me money, she saved me at least $12000 a year on rent!

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Ginnia, luceroblanco has offered some great advice, and I just want to add that I think you're feeling pulled on in opposite directions by everyone in your life, sort of a like a bunch of children all trying to get their hands on one doll!!!


Perhaps taking some deep breaths, and focusing in on what you really, really want most of all would help? Many times our bodies offer clues to what we are really wanting, but if we don't cue in to the physical manifestations, we may spend some significant time and energy going down a different path. Heatbeat, feelings of stress and anxiety, naseousness, sweaty palms- these are all signals that our body is trying to tell us something.


So when you stop, breathe, and think about pursuing a professional ballet career, what happens to your body?

When you stop and think about asking parents for more financial help, what happens?

When you stop and think about supporting yourself and teaching ballet classes, what happens?



It's so nice that your teacher has faith in you- that is a wonderful thing- but are you considering a performing career based on what he wants?

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Ahh Ginnia :) It's a tough spot!


Just to throw more thoughts on to the ever confusing stack... I think it sounds like you might benefit from working through some sort of goal setting exercises. If it was me (and I know not everyone likes to work this way - so again.. if it was me... ) I would sit down and ask myself these questions;


- What do I want? (Underline I - and bear in mind Clara's thought about body reaction above)

- Is what I want achievable?

- What do I have to do to get there?

- Is what I need to do to get there feasible/possible/practical/advisable?

- Is all that above still what I really want with all that goes with it?


If you know what you want to do (whatever that may be), it will make it easier to talk to your parents about it. I understand your dillema there! My father used to be the Vice Chancellor of a University, and I only lasted 3 weeks at Uni before dropping out, and never got a degree in anything at all! If you can help them understand whatever career path you choose to take, it will help them support you through it. Many people including myself have had great careers in all sorts of areas without degrees, and in some places you can't even get a foot in the door without one - it all depends on where you want to end up.


Good luck

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What about career counselling -- the kind where you complete tests that indicate your character traits and match those traits with jobs? You might have to extrapolate from the results to look critically at the careers you are considering (I doubt dancer is listed as one of the job options), but you would be forced to think about your options from all sides.

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  • 9 months later...

Since this post, I have quit formal training and started teaching at a well reputed school in the area who offered me free training as a teachers perk.

During the fall I let the training go because again, family issues took up a lot of my time and I was very stressed from it.


I now live in a different state with my boyfriend and another room mate and he says if I want to go back to training and talk about auditions when I'm at that level, he is willing to support me during the training period.

I would like some company experience, if only to give me a good reputation around the area. I want to eventually direct a company and become a choreographer for professionals.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is tough. Just speaking from my experience...I buckled under the pressure of my parents, and went to college and did everything I was "supposed to do". I then, after finishing my education and securing a traditional career, started my real professional training. When I could pay for it myself. Let's talk about exhausting. I used to work part time and live very very simply and take class, and audition, and perform and work and take class and audition and perform and stress and obsess and take class and take class and work and work and work (notice how I didn't say sleep?). It is a very very rough road. You have to really want it. I was never in a ballet company, but was in a modern company. It was wonderful...and stressful in its way too.


Good luck in your decision

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