Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesDancing · 2 months ago

What is the life of a professional dancer like?

My daughter is 13 years old and she recently told me that she wants to dance ballet professionally. She has written down her goals and asked to audition for summer intensives next year. Also, she told me that by the time she is 15-16 she would have to be accepted in a ballet company. I can't deny that this conversation has made me extremely anxious. What is a dancer's life like? How much will it affect her teenage life as well as her adulthood? 

7 Answers

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  • Fred
    Lv 5
    1 month ago

    I have a professional  award winning Niece.  She blew a knee at 23 and now watches from a chair.

    She is not a happy camper!  Have a back up plan!

  • John P
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

     The life of a professional dancer is physically hard, and probably not well paid in the UK unless they happen to be at the absolute pinnacle of their profession. I have no idea how dancers fare in other countries. So it would pay you to do some research with the leading ballet companies in your country.

    But don't entirely dampen her enthusiasm at the age of 13.

  • Ludwig
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Most professional dancers work in dance troupes on things like cruise ships.  

  • 2 months ago

    My daughter made the same decision at about that age. While her original goal was ballet and she had good ballet technique training from a young age, at age 15 she fell in love with concert contemporary dance. She also found out she had a great deal of skill as a choreographer. (Currently she is a professional in the field and struggling for work due to how COVID has affected the arts.) Your daughter certainly should audition for SI programs and that will inform her if this is what she really wants to do. If she is offered a scholarship for the summer that should also indicate that she likely has a shot at this. At the end of the intensive if they offer to train her full time in a program on scholarship that could mean she is on her way. While dance training can be expensive, truth is that those with the skill to actually make it to the professional ranks rarely have to pay for their training.  Not only will she be screened for dance ability and training, they will be looking at her bone and muscle structure, facility and musicality. Only 2% of the population is born with the right requirements and if she doesn’t have them, realistically she won’t have a ballet career and all this becomes a moot point. 

    Regarding teen life, she won’t really have a social life outside her classmates. There is a great sacrifice of giving up time with friends and family for those who choose and are successful on this path. But if she needs to dance like she needs the air to breathe then it isn’t really a sacrifice but more of a calling. Dance careers are short and many end up with very different careers after they retire from dance. Dance builds discipline and most have successful careers after due to strong work ethics. I know a few retired professional ballet dancers who are now doctors and lawyers. 

    First things first. See how she does in SI auditions which start in January. Then worry about a career if this actually becomes an issue. 

    FYI it is very rare indeed that someone is in a ballet company at age 15 as an apprentice. Tiler Peck of NYCB comes to mind. Age 16/17 is the age of apprenticeship or an invite into a “secondary” company before being added to the main company. You can be added to the company 6 months to a year after apprenticing. It may take longer for a spot to open up if she is in a secondary company. 

    Source(s): My daughter is a professional concert contemporary dancer & choreographer. Ballet academy trained. Dance grad of LaGuardia Arts high school (the FAME school.) Graham & Horton modern trained. Juilliard SI. BFA in dance from NYU Tisch. Choreographer and performer in a world renown concert contemporary company. I worked for NYCB (New York City Ballet)
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  • 2 months ago

    One step at a time.  

    First, your family needs to figure out whether or not your daughter has the raw talent to consider this path as well as your willingness to support that dream.  You'd also want to look at where she is taking dance now.  Is she already taking pointe lessons?  Is the "school" a ballet school with connections to any professional company?

    Many major cities have a ballet company and summer intensive programs, but the "top" ones are in New York (some may be virtual for this year) and the cost a lot.  Your daughter is correct in that most people who become professional ballet dancers are in a company-run development program where they would live away from home by the time they are in high school. It is pretty rare that someone who just takes local dance classes and attends their local high school will end up as a professional dancer. Professional ballet dancers work very hard and often suffer from chronic foot issues and can become susceptible to anorexia and other diet issues.  It is a full-time+ job full of rehearsals, classes, and performances.  That's if they are part of the very few who are hired as part of a company. And, like other professional athletes, they can have chronic problems with over-use injuries for the rest of their lives.  The "career" of a professional dancer isn't very long, so most of those who make it into a dance company will need to find another line of work after age 30.  Many will only dance professionally for a few "seasons."

  • 2 months ago

    It's good to see such high-quality, informed parenting. Super.

  • y
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    How many kids play football? At the middle school level? At the high school level? College level? How many actually  make it to the pro's?

    Odds are even worse for professional Ballet dancers, better in other types of dance. Their life, is what they make of it, just as it is for everyone else. Just as for other athletes, they best have plans b and c too.

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