Career Development Plan - Can I Become a Professional and Still Go to College?

by Eleanor
(Manchester, England)

Career Development Plan - Can I Become a Professional and Still Go to College?

Hi Odette
My name is Eleanor, I'm 14 and have been dancing since I was 3. All I've ever wanted to do is be a principal dancer in a ballet company. I am starting my GCSE's in September and will soon start looking at colleges for when I leave secondary school. I have always wanted to be a principal dancer more than anything but I also really want to go to college and get other qualifications in case the worse happens and I can't dance. I also want to make sure I have good qualifications for when I finish a career in dance. Education is important to me and I am quite clever and a perfectionist so I want to make sure that I have a clear pathway in life planned out so that I can do the best in whatever career I choose. Working behind the tills of my local supermarket really isn’t an option for me. However, is it possible for me to become a professional dancer if I go to college first or do I need to go straight to a school like the English national ballet at 16 if I stand any chance? If I was to go to college, how do I go about getting into a company after college? Whatever I do, I don't want to put myself in a situation where I have gone to a professional ballet school, have completed my training but then can't make it as a dancer because then I would be stuck with no qualifications only one in dance which wouldn't be very helpful for anything else as I have always said that I don't want to be a dance teacher. I feel like I need to know these things so that I can decide what I'm going to do with my life and so I know how to fulfil my dreams. Please help me. I shall be looking forwards to hearing from you. Kind regards


Reply by Odette
To:- Career Development Plan - Can I Become a Professional and Still Go to College?

Hello Eleanor,
Thank you very much for your messages, I can tell straight away you are very clear in what you want and have a strong determination in your personality. Your thinking is much like my own when I was a young dancer, as my priorities were always to keep my options open and achieve my academic qualifications as well as ballet training.

You ask a clear-cut question, which makes it easier for me to give you the direct answers you want. You have the right idea, as yes you will have to join a vocational dance school like English National Ballet by the age of 16 in order to become a professional. It does not mean you will be stuck with no academic qualifications if you join a school like this. It means you have to choose the right school and do your research to make sure the one you join has the option to study academics as well. I know that Elmhurst School for Dance, Royal Ballet School and Tring all include at least one A Level for you to achieve by the end of your ballet training. When I reached the age of 16 and it was time for me to choose another vocational dance school, I made sure the one I chose includes the right academics. By doing this, I achieved 3 A levels which was the same as my friends who were non-dancers and studying at a normal college back at home.

From what I know at the moment, English National Ballet does not include academics in their course so if you join the school, you would have to study in your own time to get the academics you want. The other schools I mentioned include the academics within the schedule of the training.

You are very smart in your thinking and please do not loose this train of thought, because I think it is crucial for dancers to keep their options open as much as possible. Of course, you must devote yourself to ballet and give your 100% commitment, but don't be afraid to pursue your other interests too.

I hope this helps, but please do keep in touch and get back to me with any other questions.

Best wishes,

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