Irina Kolpakova coaching Paloma Herrera during her time at ABT. Photo by Jim Lafferty.

Ask Amy: Do I Need a Coach to Succeed?

I don't have a personal coach. Will that impede my career? —Ellie

Detailed coaching from artistic staff is built into a principal's or soloist's rehearsal day, but it's rare to get that type of attention in the corps. If, as a student, you were used to taking private lessons or getting one-on-one coaching for competitions, you'll need to adjust as a corps member. One of the biggest differences between being a professional and being a student is that you're more accountable for your own improvement in class. It's up to you to absorb corrections and apply them to your dancing.

It's important for young dancers

to seek out a mentor,

whether it's for technical and artistic

guidance or emotional support.

However, I do think it's important for young dancers to seek out a mentor, whether it's for technical and artistic guidance or emotional support. You don't have to hire a personal coach per se, especially if you can't afford one. It could be as simple as seeking out a teacher who's invested in you. When I moved to New York City, I regularly took open classes from Nancy Bielski and Francis Patrelle. They were teachers who wanted to see me succeed and gave me honest feedback and advice in and outside of class. Or, look for a mentor within your company—perhaps a dancer in the upper ranks would be interested in taking you under her wing.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at

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