Should I turn down an apprenticeship to finish my dance degree, or should I put my education on pause? —Ashleigh
Congratulations on receiving an apprenticeship offer! They don't come every day. If you think you're ready for company life, and will be full of regrets if you turn the offer down, you can always resume school later. However, make sure you know what the position entails.
Not all apprenticeships are paid, and there's no guarantee that you'll be promoted to the company's corps de ballet at season's end. Are you comfortable entering the dance world without the security of a college degree? And are you motivated enough to return to school if you put your education on pause now?
During his sophomore year at the University of Oklahoma, Austin Crumley switched the focus of his Bachelor of Fine Arts from ballet performance to ballet pedagogy. “I figured I already knew how to perform," he says. “I wanted to take advantage of OU's incredible faculty to learn something new." The degree change didn't close any doors for Crumley, who joined Sacramento Ballet this fall. However, he plans to focus on teaching after he retires. “The pedagogy degree turned a passion into a potential long-term career," he says.
Some degree-seeking dancers opt to concentrate on dance studies outside the traditional performance track—from dance science or administration to dance media, pedagogy, or even cultural studies. And for many, these degrees can support long careers both onstage and beyond.
(Eloise Smith, stockroom assistant in the costume department at the Royal Opera House, photo by Ruairi Watson)
The Royal Opera House, home of The Royal Ballet, has launched a new university degree program in partnership with South Essex College and the University of the Arts in London. In order to address a dearth of costume makers in the performing arts industry, these three institutions will offer a joint degree that provides students with the opportunity to study costume construction.
The three-year program will teach students the skills they need to work everywhere from television to a ballet company. The courses concentrate on costume construction rather than design, in order to produce professionals who are highly skilled makers in their own right.
The ROH has a remarkable collection of costumes, historic costumes and wigs, which will be used as teaching objects for students. Congratulations to the ROH and its partners for addressing a major gap in the creation of theater magic. After all, behind every ballerina and her tutu there's a dedicated costume designer, and ballet lovers everywhere are indebted to their hard work.
For more news on all things ballet, don't miss a single issue: pointemagazine.com/digital.