This story originally appeared in the October/November 2014 issue of Pointe.
I train at the school of a professional modern dance company, but I'm also interested in a ballet career. Will training at a modern studio hold me back, even though I take ballet there? How can I balance the two? —Hadleigh
In this day and age, having skills in modern or contemporary dance can only help you—the repertoires of most companies require dancers to easily switch between full-length classics and contemporary choreography. However, you must ensure that you're receiving serious, high-quality ballet training if you want to dance professionally. Ballet classes designed for modern dancers are usually very anatomically safe and encourage creativity, but they may not push you enough technically—especially if you're the only aspiring ballerina in your class. Ask yourself some hard questions: Who are your teachers, what are their backgrounds and do they know you want a ballet career? Does the studio make it possible to take advanced ballet classes five to six days a week? How often do you have pointe class? (You should be taking several a week.) Are you by far the best in your class? If so, you may need more competition.
If you feel you're receiving good training, great. But make sure you're getting as much exposure as you can to the ballet world through summer programs, master classes, workshops—even private lessons with a well-known teacher—so that you can network and assess your progress.
Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.