Career Development Plan - Plan to Become a Professional Dancer

by Jacqueline

Hello Odette, it,'s me again. Lately I've been feeling a little stressed.Yes, I'm very happy about being en pointe by the fall, and Ever since starting my first ballet class when I was 9 I knew I wanted to become a professional ballet dancer, but now the thought is making me nervous even though I just turned 13. All I keep hearing is how exceptionally hard it is to make a career out of dance and how even the SAB trained dancers do not all make it. I have made a very strong outline for myself that I even have written down all about my training to become a dancer, but I keep wondering to myself:
Will this be enough?
Am I really willing to dance at least 3-4 hours a day at a ballet school in the city in 2 years? Will I even be accepted into a good enough ballet school?

Here was a plan I made for myself:
Age 9-12: train at dance studio
Age 12-14: train 2-4x a week at ballet school
Age 14-17: train at Joffrey Ballet or Ballet Chicago
Age 17-18: trainee/secondary program ex: Milwaukee ballet II, Houston ballet II
Age 18: join ballet company
Age 26: retire from ballet, do regular career
From age 14-18, I also plan on attending some very good summer intensived, like Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet West, but once again what if I'm not good enough and I am not accepted into these summer programs?

My current ballet school is great and we perform the Nutcracker and a spring ballet every year (although I am not on it because I have only been dancing at this school since November), but we don't compete in ballet competitions, like youth America grand prod. This has made me upset because I know the wonderful benefits of doing ballet competitions. I have also considered dancing at this dance academy and being a member of their ballet company which also competes at the youth America grand prix and performsclassical and contemporary ballets. They have also trained professional ballet dancers. I would do this continuation of dancing at my ballet school just for next year, and then I would hopefully train at Ballet Chicago or the Joffrey Ballet
This summer I will dance 2x a week and will hopefully get my points shoes then (if not for sure by late August.) I may also consider doing private lessons during the summer to improve. Well that,'s it for right now. I'm sorry this was so long. If you could give me some feedback on whatever I have said that would be tremendously helpful. Thank you do much in advance. You always help me tremendously, Odette and I also just want to say thank you for all that you have done for me.


Reply by Odette

Dear Jacqueline,
Thank you for your great message, it is good you let me hear all your thoughts so I can understand your situation better. Firstly, I have to say 'wow'!!! You are very, very on top of your goal as a young dancer. Even when I was your age at 13, I was not as advanced thinking as you and I am sure not many dancers would be able to make such a clear plan as you have done. It is excellent though, because you have yourself prepared and you know the stages of training it takes to reach a professional level.

As you know, becoming a professional dancer will not just happen unless you commit to the right stages of training. However, I would not stress yourself out about it. You are very young and although it is great to look ahead to your future and your goal, you have to live in the moment and focus on what you are doing now.

Do not let the fear of your future affect your present, otherwise of course you will feel nervous and anxious. This is natural though, and I do it too, but you must try and take each day as it comes and you will be gradually reaching closer towards your goal.

There are many, many questions we all want to ask ourselves about the future. We want definite answers and know it will all work out. But the future is unknown which is why we must focus on what we do now in order to build our future.

Your plan is really great and it gives yourself
the idea of the stages you will go through to become a professional. But also remember, things can change as time moves on and you never know what other opportunities may come along the way. Keep your plan, but be flexible enough to 'go with the flow' too and see what is right for you in that moment in time.

All you can do is keep working hard and enjoy every moment of each day. I advise you to chat to your ballet teachers too and ask their guidance, as they are the ones who know you best. Also, summer courses are great to get yourself noticed as a dancer and learn more to develop.

Keep going Jacqueline, and remember I am always here to listen and help!

Best wishes,

ps. To become the best dancer you can be, learn the Seven Secrets ..... go to my 'Seven Secrets of Ballet' page

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