Wondering how to become a dancer? It is so important to start planning,especially in this economy! Here are the things you need to consider while in high school… besides your technique.
Decide on Your Dancing Goals
In high school, you need to start making decisions about where you want to go with dance. Knowing how to become a dancer starts with knowing what kind of dancer you want to be.
You don’t want to walk out of your high school graduation with the deer in headlights look. You want to know what direction you’re going and what the next step is to get there.
And don’t think that having a goal mean you can’t change your mind. Your idea of what you want might change (and probably will). That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you are working towards something specific.
Ask Your Teachers
If you have teachers that you respect, consider asking them what area they think you should aim for. They might think of a profession, company or program that you hadn’t thought of.
Take their suggestions, but remember that ultimately it is your decision. If you don’t think you’d like a certain path, don’t do it just because your teacher thinks you should.
Consider Your Body Type
Success is fun. When you are honest with yourself about your body type, the benefits and challenges that you have, than you will be able to choose a goal that you can be successful at.
I’ve mentioned before that my turnout sucks. Royally. And at 5’10” I am pretty tall for a dancer. I love ballet, and if I’d found the right company, I could have been successful at it. However, all the ballet opportunities in my area were very classical and very… short. I knew that finding a ballet company that wouldn’t mind my less than stereotypical ballet body would take time, and probably a move or two. So, I decided to go into modern dance instead. It was a great decision for me because I was able to have my version of success (dancing on a professional company) without sacrificing more than I was able.
Follow Your Gut
At the end of the day, you dance because it makes you happy (I hope). So, while you should take all things into consideration (what your teachers think, what body type you have) you really do want to follow a goal that makes you happy.
Even though I decided I wouldn’t work toward becoming a professional in ballet, I kept up with it because it makes me so gosh darn happy. Because I love ballet, I decided to teach. This has been a great way to work with a genre I love.
What’s Going on in Your City?
Or state? Now is the time to start thinking about your post high school plans
Think about your dance goals. Are there programs and/or companies and/or colleges in your area that will help you reach your goals? Not everyone needs to go to New York or LA to become a dancer. Sometimes we have great opportunities in our own back yard.
So, start learning about what’s going on in your area. You aren’t (necessarily) looking for things to get involved with now. But you are looking to see if there will be opportunities for you in the future. A quick internet search will give you a lot of information. And remember, your teachers are a good resource. Ask them about local opportunities.
If you really do live in the middle of a whole lot of nothing, or don’t see opportunities that you like, you can start planning for a future move. Better to know now while you can prepare for it!
Go Away to Summer Intensives
High school is a great time to do summer intensive. They are an investment, meaning they cost a chunk of change (several hundred dollars). But, if your situation allows for it (get a piggy bank), it is a great way to get dance experience.
Plan to go to one summer intensive a year, and plan to go somewhere other than your usual studio.
Taking class from teachers you aren’t familiar with…
– Makes you learn a new style within your genre
– Helps you learn to pick up new material
– Gives you a new perspective on your own progress
Not only that, but it can give you a well needed break from your normal teachers. Your teachers may be amazing, but take only from them too long, and you will start to forget how smart they are!
This is something I definitely wish I would have done.
Tell Your Teachers Your Goals
Tell your teachers what you want to do with dance. Even if you are in a contemporary class and you want to be a ballerina, talk to the teacher and let her know your plans. Ask her if she has any suggestions.
Just planting the thought in a teacher’s head will make them more aware of your needs and therefore better able to help you.
You get two benefits.
1. Teachers are often a wealth of knowledge. You never know what advice or help they can offer.
2. Teachers love to know where you stand. I work students who want to be professional ballet dancers differently than those whom I know are just in class for fun.
I ask my students what they want, but if your teacher doesn’t ask, you have to tell him.
Be Careful About Trying to Do It All
It is easy to get trapped trying to do everything. Especially in high school. You have so many options!
It is great to try different things to see what really floats your boat. However the time line for a dancer is faster than most other professions.I sacrificed to focus on dance in high school, and I am sure glad I did because I gained a technical foundation that I would not have had the time and resources to get later in life.
After my second year of college I quite dancing, a few times, and tried other things. It was great! I grew a lot as a person. Trying other things taught me that I really wanted dance to be a big part of my life. Luckily for me, I already had that technical foundation, so when I went back to dance I was just getting back into shape, instead of starting from scratch.
Build Your Auditioning Skills
If you are serious about becoming a dancer, now is the time to develop your auditioning skills. High school is busy, but making time to go to auditions, even just two a year, will give you an edge when you graduate and need to audition for real.
Should I Join the High School Dance Team or Not?
Deciding to join your high school dance team or not has a lot to do with what your dance goals are.
This can be a tough decision. I remember it was for me. If you are wondering if you should join your dance team or focus on other areas,