I was in a sort of job review meeting, unofficial, with a ballet studio owner several years ago. We were discussing some mistakes I’d made recently and whether I should continue working there.
She asked me what my long term goals were. What was I trying to do? I don’t have a degree in dance or ballet. I don’t have any certification. I do have a degree in music and music education, so I’m great with kids, but my dance education has been all self driven.
I wasn’t sure how to answer, except that I knew I wanted to keep dancing. I wanted to find performance opportunities. I wasn’t brave enough to say to her that I wanted more performing in her shows, even though that was the biggest thing on my mind. i didn’t feel confident enough in my dancing or my body at the time, though I had been working very hard.
I’ve been dancing all my life. I used to make up dances and put on shows in the kitchen, like a lot of little kids do. I always felt like I could get to be a good dancer with the right opportunities.
I lived in a small town and my studio, while having good ballet instruction, only had three or four classes per week. I eventually took them all, but I knew, even while filling out my application for the dance program at my chosen college, that I wasn’t good enough. I was fat and hadn’t had enough training.
I muscled my way instead into music, using an unusual instrument (percussion) and working hard enough to get into a good music program. Half way through my first semester after trying to quit ballet I realized I still needed to dance some how. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHY. I spent money on non major college ballet classes and open classes in town. I rearranged my school schedule to accommodate ballet classes.
I was in training to become a school music teacher, so there was no logical reason for me to waste time and money on ballet classes. But I did it. and after graduation I kept doing it.
I eventually dropped most of my music teaching as dance teaching opportunities came up. Today I teach dance, play music for ballet classes, and have one piano student.
So back to the interview. I didn’t have an answer. I still don’t. The story of how I left that studio is one I’m till a little bitter about, so I’ll save it for another time when I’m more mature.
Right now I teach ballet between five and eight hours a week, and I play the piano for ballet classes ten to fifteen hours a week. I’ve been lucky enough to have almost daily class this spring. I do between three and five community shows of various sizes every year. I’ve had leads and I’ve had Piece of Scenery parts. I am very involved in ballet. I love it.
I do wish I could perform more, but who doesn’t? That is sort of the idea behind my Ballet Costs Money post. I’m working on balancing my time between things that make me a better dancer and things that pay for dancing. I still don’t have a clear plan, other than to keep teaching and find ways to get into class and on stage.
I’d love to be hired by a small company. I don’t even need to be paid, I’d just like my name associated with some group that will let me perform. But I’m not unhappy now. I still want to get better at everything, music, teaching and my own dancing, but I’m beginning to wonder if I even need a concrete goal. Isn’t it OK for me to take part in things as they come up? As long as I keep dancing I know I can be satisfied.
What are your goals? Are you a young dancer aiming to be a professional or to just have fun and work hard? Are you an adult dancer who just loves going to class? What goals do you have, either for mastering a hard step, getting into a company, or just making it to class a few times a month?