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 Post subject: College, a Hopeful Career, and the Mess I'm In...
PostPosted: Mon Sep 06, 2004 3:41 pm 
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I realize that there are tons upon tons of topics with words like "Late Beginner" in the title that I should be referred to upon posting this, but I'm in a bit of a bind that, from what I read, seems a little more complex that just "I'm a late beginner... help." I've always enjoyed dancing, but I didn't actually start taking ballet until this Summer. I took for three months under a pretty renowned man (Neil Hess, if it means anything), and fell in love with ballet. I'm not trying to brag, but I apparently did very well (I had a few girls threaten to kill me over my arch, and I was landing double, sometimes triple pirouettes by the end of the Summer), and have almost decided that I want to pursue this for a living. The problem is that I'm going to a college (Baylor) that has an amazing Acting program (my first love), but almost no dance program whatsoever (aside from the required basic ballet and Dance PE calsses).

Should I being looking for a school to transfer to that has a good dance program and hopefully a good theatre program as well? Or should I remain in the program I am in now, graduate, and then attempt to get into an academy of some sort? Also, if I do consider transferring, is it even going to be possible to find a reasonably good dance school willing to accept a 19 year old with 9 months of ballet training and nothing else? I'm in a very confusing and precarious position right now, and I hope someone can offer some advice. I don't know much about the world of scholarly dance, so any advice is new to me.


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 Post subject: Re: College, a Hopeful Career, and the Mess I'm In...
PostPosted: Mon Sep 06, 2004 8:38 pm 
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Location: SF CA
Hello SchorederJr and welcome to CD. You say that your first love is theater if I understand correctly, and you seem happy with the acting course at Baylor. How serious a dancer do you want to become? I will be honest here and say that there are loads of dancers who start at a young age with great feet and tons of pirouettes who do not make it into the professional world of dance. Starting at 19 will make it even more difficult. A poster recently asked "who are some dancers dancing now who started late?" We came up with about 3 men in modern dance.

Take a good look at where you are now if you are happy with the training I might stay there. It never hurts to be the actor who can move very well. That makes you a double threat as they say. It all depends on how far you want to get in ballet. I will put on my Dr. Phil hat and be real when I say that there is no limit on age to study ballet, just one to become a professional who is paid well (if at all) for it.

Singers can start late and get better with age. Actors can start late and win Oscars, not so with ballet.


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 Post subject: Re: College, a Hopeful Career, and the Mess I'm In...
PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2004 5:39 am 
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Posts: 1876
Location: New England
Lucy is absolutely right there.

You didn't say whether you're a guy or a girl. From your post, I suppose you are probably a guy. In that case, you will almost certainly be able to get jobs, but as Lucy pointed out, not the kinds of jobs that will pay a living.

I generally advise against using college as a substitute ballet academy. College is so much more expensive than a ballet academy, it's a pity to waste it that way.

Also, if you're in college and not already a professional dancer, then your chances of making a living over the long run as a dancer are very low. So make sure you plan on another career and choose your major wisely.

What were your original considerations in choosing Baylor?


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 Post subject: Re: College, a Hopeful Career, and the Mess I'm In...
PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2004 8:24 pm 
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Theatre Performance (a.k.a. Acting), which I am there for. I'm a sophomore, and as I said, I hadn't considered dance until this summer when I did a show in which we took ballet on a daily basis. Oh, and yes, I'm a guy.


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 Post subject: Re: College, a Hopeful Career, and the Mess I'm In...
PostPosted: Tue Sep 07, 2004 10:40 pm 
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Location: London, England; Tallinn, Estonia
Circumstances vary from country to country, but my impression is that few if any of those taking ballet-based dance degrees at UK universities join professional ballet companies. They go into teaching, administration or other careers. The amount of time devoted to technique in such courses just isn't enough to reach a professional standard.

SchroederJr, is there an experienced teacher, perhaps with a background as a ballet professional, who you can consult about a sensible strategy and who will be realistic about your professional chances? Advice will have to be tailored to your particular strengths and weaknesses, that we cannot assess.

<small>[ 08 September 2004, 03:05 AM: Message edited by: Stuart Sweeney ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: College, a Hopeful Career, and the Mess I'm In...
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2004 9:26 am 
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Location: Dallas, TX USA
What Stuart said of university dance students in the UK is also generally true in the US.

Very few students who graduate with a BFA in Ballet Performance from my alma mater (one of the top university dance programs in the nation, for that matter) go on to dance professionally. In fact, of the 3 graduating classes that I was aquainted with during the time I was taking dance classes there, only 2 ballet graduates went on to dance professionally -- 1 ended up with Tulsa Ballet, and another i think ended up with Ballet Austin.

So that's 2 out of a pool of maybe 60 or 70.


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 Post subject: Re: College, a Hopeful Career, and the Mess I'm In...
PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 1:05 pm 
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Location: London
Gaedea - may I ask what university dance programme you attend in the US? I would be very interested in a ranking list of US dance degree programmes. Thanks

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Performance and dance researcher based in London. I am currently investigating creativity in the development of a ballet narrative.


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 Post subject: Re: College, a Hopeful Career, and the Mess I'm In...
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 5:46 pm 
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Location: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Sorry if I say this, but I have to speak the truth.

I am studying at the university level to become a Professional Ballet Dancer. I know that it's basically impossible, but for some reason I can't imagine myself doing anything else.

I don't have a ballet body either and this lessens my chances to nil, but I wrote this to say that there are a few insane people out there who believe that nothing is impossible and they keep pushing for what they want even if it never happens. I think that better term for it is "indomitable".

One thing that happened to me yet never stopped my resolve was this:

My current ballet teacher is Bruce King. He danced professionally in Europe and elsewhere and now teaches here. He kind of told me that I could probably become a Ballet Choreographer, but probably not a Professional Ballet Dancer. ( But in a nice way.) Bruce is pretty well known as a ballet master in the Dance world so hearing him say it made me think for a second. Yet, I thought to myself " If I want to become a Professional Ballet Dancer, who is anyone to say that I can't.)

All of my family and friends are begging me to give it up, my dream and obsession and pursue something else. Yet, I can't imagine myself doing anything other than taking class, rehearsing, performing ballet day after day for the rest of my life. I have no other goal, not even to teach.

Am I stupid? Misguided? Or what? Please be honest.

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 Post subject: Re: College, a Hopeful Career, and the Mess I'm In...
PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 8:21 pm 
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Location: New England
In response to that, I will first put on my "professor's hat". College is very expensive. College dance programs will prepare you to teach and stuff, but not so well to dance. Ballet academies are a LOT cheaper than college and they do a better job preparing you to dance as well.

Once you've gone to college, it's over; you can't really go a second time. I don't suppose your parents are prepared to pay for college twice for you. If you're spending all your time at college dancing, then you're wasting college. You would be better off going to a ballet academy and leaving the option of college open for your future. I know this takes a lot of honesty with yourself. It's much easier just to keep enrolling in additional semesters and classes. And you don't have to tell your parents (or yourself) that you're not in school, or that you're really committing to dancing for now. But I suggest that if you're going to spend all your time dancing and you have no interest in teaching, then that is exactly what you should do --- put college on hold and attend a ballet academy. That way is more honest with yourself, with your college and academic advisors, with your parents --- and it keeps your future options open.

Now I'll put on my ballet dancer hat. If Bruce King said the chances of you dancing professionally are low, then he is probably right. The chances of you making it as a choreographer are probably even lower. There are a LOT more dancer jobs out there than choreographer jobs. Unless you have a talent for choreography that's already apparent, it's just not going to happen. Choreography is a (nearly) thankless job anyway (but that's another story). In any case, professional experience as a dancer is VERY important if you want to be a master teacher or choreographer.

As for your desires at this time to dance every day for the rest of your life: that may or may not pass. We ALL feel that way for a certain period as dance students. As we go on in life, some of us still feel that way for a lifetime, and some of us end up wanting to do other things eventually. More likely than not, you will come to a point in the future when you DO want to do other things in life. How long will that take? I don't know. Maybe 2 years. Maybe 10 years. For a VERY small number of dancers, it never comes, they are always 100% satisfied dancing. But more likely than not, that is not you.

But given that you want to dance now and you don't want to do anything else, it may be a good idea to put college on hold and attend a ballet academy. You will almost certainly grow through the experience and become a better dancer. There is something special about putting dancing as #1 priority in your life for a while, whether that "while" lasts for 1 year or 10 years.

If you decide in a few years you're done with dancing --- either because you can't get hired or because you want something else in life --- then you can go back and finish college and get a LOT more out of it than you're getting now. If you're never done with dancing --- you get hired in a job you like, for example --- then you can wait until you're 35 and your dance career is over before you go back to college.

<small>[ 28 September 2004, 10:25 PM: Message edited by: citibob ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: College, a Hopeful Career, and the Mess I'm In...
PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2004 9:03 am 
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Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2004 11:01 pm
Posts: 6
Location: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Thanks for your advice.
My next question is about Ballet Academies in the USA that take students in their 20's? Where are they? How much do they cost? Do they have adequate housing nearby? What are their audition requirements?

Thank you in advance.

PS: My parents aren't putting me through college, I am by working at night full time and sleeping a few hours a day. It's harder than I ever realized it to be, but I love it.

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Stage fright is nothing new, get out there and show your moves!


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