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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Alumni of BTFD: Where are they now?


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A thread for returning, revisiting, de-lurking parents of dancer members, dancer members and teacher members and others who have shared their journeys on our Congratulations threads over the years to celebrate our version of: "Where are they now?". For post college, post career or still in career. It's been over 10 years since we started Congrats but over 7 years since we started with the Path listings. As always, share as much or as little as you are comfortable with. If you'd like to share name and company/college/job location it's fine, we just didn't want to ask nor make it part of the requested sharing.



Here's a general bit of info to copy and paste or share, please elaborate:


Year of high school graduation or movement from HS to next step:

Ballet or other Dance Path: ex. Trainee to College, College to Trainee, Apprentice to injury to College, Corp to Principal, Dancer to Doctor, etc. etc. etc.

Path away from Dance: if any

Number of path changes and reasons/methods:

Current job/position: (whether in or out of dance)

Is dance still in your life in any way?:

What advice would you give your 14 year old self, your 18 year old self, your 25 year old self?: (as a parent of the 14 year old or as the 14 year old yourself)

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment in life, dance or otherwise:

When you look back at your path, what advice would you give those coming after you?:

What would you do differently? The same?:


If members have any additional questions you'd like asked, please pm me.

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I asked my DD to post a response, but although she was active on BT4D from age 13 or 14 through most of her BFA years, she has moved on and now can remember neither her account password nor the e-mail attached to the account. So, she asked if I would mind posting her response for posterity. Here is her response:


"If you want to post for me:

Year of high school graduation or movement from HS to next step: May 2011


Ballet or other Dance Path: ex. Trainee to College, College to Trainee, Apprentice to injury to College, Corp to Principal, Dancer to Doctor, etc. etc. etc.: 1 year full-time training program, 4 year BFA, two years rehabbing/auditioning


Path away from Dance: currently a 3L at Berkeley Law



Number of path changes and reasons/methods:. 2; I tore tendons in my ankle my senior year of college, which ultimately resulted in 2 surgeries during that year. After frustration with the process, I tried a pre-med program and realized after about a semester and a half that it wasn't for me. I tried going back to dance, but just never could get back to where I was pre-injury. Whenever I would get close, something new would tear/sprain/strain/break. After my 2nd year of trying to get back, I ended up with a hip injury, had surgery, and knew I was done. A year after that surgery, it turned out the injury had been misdiagnosed and was more serious than I thought initially and would have ended my career had I not already walked away.


Current job/position: Berkeley Law 3L; law clerk at various local public defender offices


Is dance still in your life in any way?: Body permitting, I take class sometimes, but not often. I taught dance my first year of law school and enjoyed it, but it was really rough on my hip.


What advice would you give your 14 year old self, your 18 year old self, your 25 year old self?:


14 year old: Enjoy the process, but also be a teenager- have fun, have friends outside ballet, engage in things that have nothing to do with ballet. Realizing the world is bigger than ballet, in my opinion, only makes you a better artist.


18 year old self: Periodically remind yourself why you dance. When I was spending so much time dancing for school and/or auditioning, sometimes I found myself not remembering why I loved it so much. Think about what might interest you after you are done dancing. The end can come sooner than you think and can be paralyzing if it hasn't once crossed your mind. Take care of your body.


25 year old self: Make sure you connect with people that have nothing to do with dance. Talk to them. Ask them about their careers. Look at what you might be interested in doing after dancing. Engage in your community, particularly people that come from a completely different background than you. Take random academic classes if you didn't go to college just to feel comfortable being in a classroom. Take care of your body.


What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment in life dance or otherwise: As much as I am tempted to say winning my first motion in court, which led to my client's felony charge being dismissed, I think more broadly it has been that I've finally made peace with walking away from ballet and realizing I can be just as happy doing something else.


When you look back at your path, what advice would you give those coming after you?: From a very young age, I wanted to be a dancer. I went to a boarding school, spent most of high school away from home, spent summers in various cities at SIs, and graduated with honors from a BFA program. That whole time, I never wanted to do anything but dance. I resisted any attempt by my parents to consider a Plan B. Along the way I saw people quit or get hurt and have to leave, but I never thought that would be me.


After my first two surgeries, I reluctantly quit but wasn't ready to and was heartbroken and angry. My favorite teacher and now friend told me my body was done and not to try to go back to dancing professionally. I didn't want it to be true, tried to dance again, and ended up more hurt. I'm still not sure if I would have ever been able to believe that it wasn't going to happen for me until it all fell apart, but I wish I could have. Maybe I wouldn't be living with daily pain and limitations on activity.


But, at the end of the day, I think my biggest piece of advice is that it is possible to be happy doing something other than dancing. My biggest fear was that I would never find something else that made me feel what dancing did, but I have and am a happier person for having walked away.


Additionally, it is so easy to get sucked into a dance bubble world and not realize that you're part of this bigger world. That mentality makes that moment when you have to leave it (and everyone will at some point) harder. To help with that, find ways to bring art to communities/people that dont have access to it. Volunteer places. Talk to people who don't spend all day in a dance studio. Bring dance to kids in places that would never have the opportunity to dance if you didn't bring it to them (low income schools, prisons, juvenile facilities, etc.)


Engaging with the greater world also helps put your problems (i.e., having an off-day, a director not wanting to hire you, feeling upset about your body) into perspective. Leaving dance made me realize how stupid a lot of the things I spent hours fixating on and worrying about were. I wish I had realized that while I was in the middle of it.


Finally, I think it is really important to be grateful. While you are dancing, you are getting to do something that you love. Chances are your parents have sacrificed a great deal for you to be able to dance. It isn't an inexpensive hobby/passion. Say "thank you." Often. I wish I had stopped to realize how lucky I was more frequently. Some people will never find something that they love to do enjoy it while it lasts and be grateful for the time you get to spend dancing. It's often too short.


What would you do differently? The same?: I dont regret my journey or the sheer amount of time I put into trying to dance. I made amazing friends, saw parts of the world and met people I never would have met, and learned skills that have served me in other parts of my life. Although the BFA was still probably the best choice for me at that time in my life, I'm not sure today I would do it again, particularly if it involved debt.


I would take better care of my body. I was someone who would dance through pain, avoid PT, etc. until I absolutely couldn't take it anymore. Having some pretty serious injuries made me develop a whole new appreciation for my body and what it does. I started getting regular bodywork, working with a Gyrotonic trainer weekly, and doing cross-training whether at the gym on my own or with a PT. I wish I had started all of this sooner. Although not the cheapest thing, it makes an enormous difference and may be would have kept some of my problems more under control.


I wish I had done more in my community while I was dancing. I've met many clients whose lives could have been dramatically impacted if they had had access to the arts from a younger age like I did. I wish I had sought out more opportunities to perform or teach classes in places that didn't have the abundant opportunities that I did.

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dancemaven thanks for posting this. It helps me think about what to emphasize with my DD who is about to turn 15. I hope others will post as well.

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Thank you for posting dancemaven. I hope others will respond as well. I guess I'm not a BTFD Alumni as of yet, but I can reach out to DD to ask her the same questions also. I've reached out using another method to some of our alumni parents so hope that over time, many of them will come on and add their own information for their dancers or have the dancers themselves do so. I hope those that still visit us regularly will post their own information soon.

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Please thank your DD for sharing this for me. Her candid account of her journey through ballet was very touching. I wonder when she pondered as to whether the BFA was worth the cost,

if she meant she might have pursued a different college path? Or, no college at all?


Finally, my heart really goes out to you Dancemaven. it must have been an incredibly difficult few years with your DD. Thanks so much for sharing!

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Thank you, Dancemaven. I think your daughter's account of her journey is a must read for our teen dancers.

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Thank you all. Hopefully, other alums will also be by to share their stories.


Beezus21, I have asked her to respond to your questions. I'm not exactly sure myself what she meant in some regards. Here is her response:


I think I would have danced first and gone to college later if cost was an issue. I mean, honestly, Berkeley undergrad is $13,000/year and the education is about 100x superior to the academics where I went for my BFA. My previous comment was less a reaction to my own path than to what happened to friends with debt, and sometimes how that can make it even harder to walk away, find something new, or move on.


I think it can also trap people in the bubble of where all they know is dance--especially in a more conservatory-style program where the academics are pretty compromised. But, I also think that its hard to actually understand debt when you're 18 and that sometimes its either college for dance or no dance at all. I can't complain, because I ended up at a great law school and spent undergrad debt free.


I will say, I'm not sure I could have lived my post-dance degree life (without being able to dance in a company with an actual contract) much longer because at some point it was just not financially-feasible (especially for someone who desperately needs really good medical insurance.)


At the time I decided to do the BFA, I was confused where I wanted to end up dancing and wasn't ready to audition. Really, I think I just wanted to stay at LINES longer :). There just seemed to be so much I had to learn there. But honestly, it wasn't like I ever felt ready to go audition.


I see and hear stories of kids spending all that money on BFA programs and then coming out with a degree and being forced to take the unpaid trainee spots just like the 18 year olds coming out of high school. While that's one thing at 18, I just don't think its reasonable for a) dancers with BFA degrees b ) their parents. It just means that you parents have to support your kids for so many more years than you probably should have to. And, if parents don't help support financially, people end up stuck (as I've seen a number of my classmates, peers, and dance acquaintances.) To me (having seen it all through) it now seems like in general, it just makes sense to go straight to the trainee path and enjoy it all while it lasts.


College and grad school are so expensive these days that if you're interested in something later that involves incurring high debt, I just wouldn't want to already be in a lot of debt with an undergrad dance degree. Some grad programs you can get into without a bunch of prereqs, but had I gone the med school route and had to pay for all of that out of pocket with full debt from an undergrad dance degree + a post-bacc, I think I would be really panicked. (Post-bacc program for me would have been necessary in order to get all the science pre-requisites that I did not take during my BFA program).


This last comment is more just me and not really relevant to most people but: I'm probably at the level of debt for my graduate program (law school) where I feel ok, but nervous. I also know there are certainly jobs I won't be able to take because of my graduate debt load (i.e., private criminal defense firms, private plaintiffs firms) that pay less than BigLaw but dont qualify for PSLF. If I'd racked up debt for the BFA (probably about $120k not including living expenses) in addition to my graduate degree debt, I would be pretty screwed about now.

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(just FYI, the sunglasses emoticon in your daughter's comments was caused by typing "B)". The message boards interpret that as a smiley with sunglasses)

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Thanks, slogan. It was a lower case 'b' followed immediately by ) (like the a) ) . So I added a space and now the emoticon is gone. :thumbsup:

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Thank you to your daughter for the follow up! She seems like she is wise beyond her years and has some very good advice for our younger DDs. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have been away from BTFD for a few years. Not for lack of interest but because my DD has been out on her own. I came back to the forums today to look for some information (I'm not only a mom of a DD, I also run a ballet school).


Just to update on DD. She has moved through the ranks in a ballet company. Started in a trainee program, moved to apprentice and just finished her second season as a demi soloist.


BTFD was the best place to find when DD started serious training.

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Thank you for that update, greyhound, and congratulations to your daughter for her continued rise through the ranks! :clapping:

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