Career Development Plan - Ballet Path?

Career Development Plan - Ballet Path?

Hi Odette! I'm 12 (12 1/2 in less than a week), and I have just started ballet less than half a year ago! Now I did do ballet before when I was about 7 or 8, but I didn't really practice at home despite my teacher constantly reminding us to. I was just strong enough to take in negative things my teachers said about me, I (almost) never took it personally. I still remember the substitute teacher shouting at me when we were doing middle splits, saying I was the oldest in the class, and also the worst. I did not take it personally at all. Now I was actually at one one of the best, most prestigious and famous in the whole continent, but I was forced to quit as my ballet teacher suggested I leave the school as she didn't think I was good at ballet. Also at the time we only had money for continuing either piano or ballet, and so my dad asked me which one I wanted to keep learning. I really wanted to say ballet, but I told my dad piano, because he was always on the wrath on what a waste all the years of piano would be if I stopped, and was scared he'd get angry or upset if I said otherwise.

I had now finally brought myself together to ask for ballet lessons. I am not at the same school, but at another much less famous school, which is still quite good. At the moment I only have 1 (45 minute) lesson per week at RAD grade 1 level even although the school requires at least 2 lessons a week starting from pre-primary in order to reach the required standard, at least if you want to do examinations. As the level increases, so does the length of the lesson, which certainly will go up to at least 1 hour if not more eventually, as well as the intensity. The school also offers R.A.D. Vocational Graded Examinations (Intermediate Foundation
to Solo Seal), and in order to achieve and stay in that level, at least 3 classes a week is required. But I have questions about my ballet path and future. I love nothing more than ballet, I really want to become a professional ballet dancer. I need guidance about what to do after school: should I go to college connected with a major ballet company, or straight to company? Which companies should I audition for? What are some major ballet companies? Should I switch to a more serious school, perhaps the Vaganova school in my city where even students as young as 8 could get daily intensive training? There, outstanding students with considerable talent could get free coaching for international competitions. I believe the school is really focused on both technique and performance. It is quite far though, might it be ideal to move? Or might it be fine to stay where I currently am? My current school is quite serious too, I believe it even offers free extra classes for the Vocational Graded Sylabus. I think you might have to be invited for th extra classes, but I'm not sure. I know it all depends on your goals, which companies you want to get in, what style company you want to get in etc, but it would be great if you could give some advice. Sorry this is so long, and there are so many questions (as a dancer, I've loads!) Thanks for any advice you give.


Reply by Odette
Career Development Plan - Ballet Path?

Thanks for your message, you certainly do have a lot of questions and many thoughts on your mind with ballet. This is natural, as it happens to me too, but through my different experiences I have also learnt it is very hard for yourself to follow an exact and rigid plan of where and what you will be in years to come. Of course, I advise to young dancers to have an idea of where they could train and what possibilities could be an option for them. However, you also never know what opportunities could arise or what will happen, so I am constantly trying to remain living in this moment and working my hardest on what I can do now.

At this stage, you are at your peak stage of training, so you can have an idea of which companies you aspire to, but until you reach a later age you will not know exactly which ones you may be suited to. You still have so many more years to develop as a dancer and I think as you grow up, your opinions and aspirations could change in terms of ballet companies.

When I was your age, I was only just beginning my full time training at vocational ballet school.I thought I had an instant idea of where I wanted to dance and where I will be, but years and years later I am on a very different path than I imagined. I am a professional ballet dancer, and I am so very happy, but the company is a place I only came across when I reached the age of 18. For me, it was only when I got older I realised the opportunities for me and I knew my original idea would not have been right for me.

Therefore, you never know what great things are ahead of you, but if you keep working hard each day then you can create your own dream that is possible for you.

I advise to you to focus on your training now and connect with your teachers so they support your ambitions too. See if your family support your dream of ballet and do all you can to find a place to train that is right for you. You don't always have to be at the most famous or best ballet school, but as long as you have teachers pushing you and bringing your potential out, then you can develop into the dancer you are meant to be.

I don't know if any of this will make sense to you right now, but it would have been the advise I would have given myself at your age.

You can see more about ballet companies here -

Ballet Companies

or look at this page to see the gradual stages of becoming a professional dancer -

Personal Development Plan

Keep working hard and remember what happens is always for a reason!

Best wishes,

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Thank You

Thank you for the advice you've given me. I think I might have read this before, but I have now reread it at very soon 13. I think I understand what you mean. I know I don't always have to be in the most famous or best ballet school. Even though the school I used to be in was rather famous, it wasn't a vocational ballet school. I will try to use the advice. I know that there is no one best ballet school, which isn't exactly a relief, but at least my chances don't depend on getting in one specific school or company, and that fact has good and bad sides to it. What you say does make a lot of sense to me, but I kind of feel like I have to be in a really prestigious ballet school given the odds of becoming a ballet dancer. However I also know/think it is best not to give too much thought to it. I am focusing on trying to get in a vocational ballet school, and I think it might be harder now because it is the school year is almost ending. I am going to see what happens, and what happens happens for a reason. I know it is important to talk to my teacher but I don't know how - I need advice. Thank you so much for giving me as advice, I am grateful for it.

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