Ballet Careers

A Day in the Life of a Dance Major: Kiahna Saneshige, University of Cincinnati

Saneshige performing the Black Swan pas de deux with Cincinnati Ballet's Patric Palkens. Photo by Will Brenner. Courtesy CCM.

Pointe caught up with three college dancers last spring to see what it's like juggling ballet, academics and a social life on campus. Here's Kiahna Saneshige, a student at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati getting her BFA in dance with a minor in communications.

Saneshige posing with friends in CCM's dance studios. Photo Courtesy Saneshige.

When Kiahna Saneshige attended Cincinnati Ballet's summer intensive after her junior year of high school, she knew she wanted a professional career but wasn't sure joining a company after graduation would completely satisfy her. "The RAs were all University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music students, and they gave me the rundown of what the school was like," she recalls. "It's known for the excellent quality of its dancers, plus I could have the social life of college and the chance to pursue another degree besides dance." Saneshige, who graduated from CCM in May, says the last four years were challenging but couldn't have prepared her better for her next step: a position with Columbus Dance Theatre.


9:05–10:35 am: Limón technique, an especially good bridge for ballet dancers transitioning to contemporary styles. Saneshige, who lives in a studio apartment five minutes from campus, gets up around 8 and has breakfast (coffee, fruit and yogurt) en route to class.

11:15 am–1:45 pm: Ballet and pointe technique. "We're usually on a three-week rotation between different instructors," Saneshige says. "CCM also brings in a lot of guest choreographers and master teachers, which gives us a chance to network." When Columbus Dance Theatre director Tim Veach taught earlier this year, Saneshige expressed interest in his company. After inviting her to take company class over spring break, he offered her a job.


Pre-class selfie. Photo Courtesy Saneshige.

1:45–2:35 pm: Lunch break. Saneshige brings nuts, fruit or a smoothie to keep her fueled throughout the day. "There are lots of amazing ethnic restaurants near campus, so I'll grab ramen or curry if I have extra time," she adds.

2:35–3:30 pm: Partnering class or rehearsal

3:30–5:15 pm: Rehearsals. CCM students perform several times a year, and also have the chance to choreograph on their peers and showcase their work. "I love having every aspect of the performing arts together in one building," she says. "Each production we do is a collaboration of costume design, wig, makeup, lighting and sound design students."


Saneshige in costume for Roger van Fletersen's "unRAVELed." Photo Courtesy Saneshige.

6–8:50 pm: Academics. With so much of the day spent in the studio, Saneshige chooses to take some of her academics (like dance history, integrated media and medieval history) online. "For a lot of us, online is the best option, but you have to be extremely self-disciplined. There's no one on top of you to tell you when to get things done!"

Saneshige also worked one night a week at the campus Starbucks and a weekend shift at a local sushi restaurant. "Everything lined up with what I needed," she says. "I experienced everything a college student would, while getting prepared for a professional career."

Want more? Check out a day in the life of Butler University's Elizabeth Abbick and Glorya Kaufman School of Dance at the University of Southern California's Jackie Schiffner.

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