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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Advice on going pro in late 20s please help


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HI, I am a current 18 year old in college. I have been dancing for over 15 years, mostly in ballet. I was going to go on pointe before COVID but plan on trying to when my college opens up in the spring. I am currently in a program at school for aspiring scientists. I have loved science all my life and this plan is for those wanting a PhD (which I really do want). I also really love dance and would love to join a ballet or modern company. I don't feel the need to climb the ranks or anything I just want to dance. I am currently minoring in dance ( I want to add a psych minor and have to take extra classes for another scholar program so I may not be able to double major). As a part of the program I have to have a summer internship so realistically may not be able to fit in long intensives. By the time I get a PhD I will be about 28.  I can't see myself taking gap years in between grad and undergrad since I a). Have to apply to grad school or a post bac research program senior year and b). probably won't go back to school later in life and c). love science.  If I keep training and performing (possibly with smaller semi pro companies) and try to build a resume with smaller roles/freelancing throughout my education, would it be possible to get into a company to spend a few years in before giving it up for good? I've heard its impossible but I have also been dancing for so long and would do my best to continue at a pre-professional rate. 

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emaries17 first may I say you are a very accomplished young person with great determination and abilities.

Your desire to dance is fully understood here! 😊 My moto is always, "never say never". Your plan does sound well thought out, but I must be honest, the odds are not in your favor at this point. I encourage you to pursue ballet to the fullest. We need passionate young people such as yourself in the ballet world however, please do remain realistic.

Do become come involved with local ballet groups. Learn all you can. It will not hurt you. On the contrary, there is much to be learned.

A professional ballet career is a difficult one that requires a full time commitment, just as you seem to have made to science.

I suggest you pursue your dreams and when you are finished with all of your schooling, see where you are at that time.

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Miss Persistent

I wholeheartedly second VRSfanatic's comments 👏

You never know unless you try - however the reality is that in any physical activity, the outcome is dependent on the input.  How much, when, and what quality training you are able to undertake over what period of time.  It's great to dream and have a goal as those are the things that give us motivation and hope - that doesn't mean those who "want it enough" and are training full time will automatically make it though as we know the road often has many twists and turns!  There is no statistical prediction of who will make it when and where ever.

But if you truly do "just want to dance" as you say, then there are many ways to do that in small companies, in dance projects, as a character role, in community companies, or school companies.  For most of us, its the act of dancing that feeds our souls.  I've never heard a student say 'I want to grow up and go to a large empty room with a bunch of other sweaty people every day and jump around and get paid'.  No - they say 'I want to dance! I want to perform! I want to feel!' Because it's the combination of all things related to ballet (movement, music, expression, achievement) that makes us love it, and these can be found in many places.

I agree that you should look to continuing your training as you are able and see where it leads you, bearing in mind there is a benchmark for professional standards.  There is a whole world of dance to be explored inside and outside of formalised ballet companies, and if dancing is what you love then you can feed that love in lots of different ways. 

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Just to add to the excellent advice from vrsfanatic and MissPersistent, you can have a wonderful serious 'hobby' for the rest of your life, whether or not you "make it" in a professional sense. You can dance at a high level in adult/professional open classes until you're 80. That is success in my book!

I would counsel being very realistic & pragmatic about your goal. I've seen a lot of adult dancers who are constantly disappointed because they wonder whether they could have "made it." Rather, I think keeping on doing something you love, at a high level of achievement is very much "making it." And it is sad, to me, that these dancers constantly feel dissatisfied with what they didn't do, rather than celebrating what they are doing.

Also, as someone who did a PhD in her 20s, I found ballet classes kept me sane. But doing a PhD is one of the hardest things you'll do. It's not just more of the same of your undergraduate courses: it requires a wholehearted, full-time effort. It's not something to do unless it's the only thing you really want to do, because it's just too much hard work! 

A lot like ballet 😃

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Miss Persistent
On 10/20/2020 at 6:12 PM, Redbookish said:

You can dance at a high level in adult/professional open classes until you're 80. That is success in my book!

Yes!! This is actually my goal Redbookish! More than my short lived professional career (which was technically my "made it" but didn't really feel like it) - returning from serious illness and keeping myself in class every week even with my arabesque only 65 degrees feels like much more success than I have ever had before. 

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My arabesque has never been great (my day job 10 hours a day at my desk ...), but it used to be hip height. Now, at just over 60, I'd take 45 degrees!

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