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Balancing Ballet and College: A Guide for Aspiring Dancers

Robert Fulton - April 7, 2024, 8:47 p.m.

Pursuing higher education while maintaining a career in ballet is not only possible but increasingly common among dancers. With the advent of online education and flexible course schedules, dancers are finding ways to prepare for life after dancing while still in the throes of their ballet careers. Here's how dancers are navigating the dual demands of ballet training and academics, and why it's a path worth considering.

The Advantages of Online Education

Online programs have revolutionized the way dancers can approach education. Notably, institutions like Penn State World Campus offer a variety of programs that are completely online, allowing dancers to study from anywhere, fitting lectures and coursework around rehearsals and performances. This flexibility is invaluable for dancers who often have schedules that extend well beyond traditional school hours.

Financial Benefits through AGMA Companies

For dancers in American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) companies, there are additional perks such as more affordable schooling options. These benefits make higher education more accessible financially, providing further incentive for dancers to pursue degrees while they perform.

Pacing Academic Load

Many dancers choose to take just a few courses at a time to manage their workload effectively. This slower pace allows them to dedicate the necessary time to both their dance commitments and their studies without becoming overwhelmed. It’s a practical approach that balances short-term career goals with long-term academic aspirations.

A Future Beyond Dance

Studying while dancing professionally isn't just about earning a degree; it's about preparing for a future beyond the stage. Ballet careers can be short, and having a backup plan or a second career path in mind is crucial. Degrees in fields such as business, education, or other areas of interest provide dancers with more security and options once they retire from performing.

Considerations and Challenges

While the benefits are clear, there are challenges to studying while dancing. Time management becomes a crucial skill, as dancers must juggle rigorous training schedules with academic deadlines. Nutcracker season, for instance, can coincide with finals week, posing significant stress and requiring careful planning and support from educational institutions that understand their unique needs.

Community College as a Stepping Stone

For those looking to ease into academics without the commitment of a four-year university, community colleges offer a viable option. They often provide online courses that can be transferred later to a four-year institution. This route is particularly cost-effective, allowing dancers to make substantial progress towards their degree without the financial strain.

In Summary

The integration of ballet training and college education is a testament to the adaptability and determination of dancers. By taking advantage of online education, pacing their academic workload, and utilizing financial benefits available through AGMA, dancers can effectively prepare for life both on and off the stage. Whether through community college or a four-year university, the educational paths for dancers are as varied and dynamic as their performances.

For those in the ballet field, whether auditioning for ballet jobs, involved in ballet training, or navigating ballet auditions, considering how higher education can complement and enhance your dance career is more feasible today than ever before.