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I’m interested in eventually pursuing a career in the arts after I’m done dancing. What kinds of jobs are there in a ballet company besides the artistic director and teachers? —Kat

A ballet company is just like any other business—outside of its artistic staff, there are numerous administrative positions for managing its day-to-day operations. For instance, the executive director manages the company’s financial side and non-artistic staff, leads strategic planning and communicates with the board of directors. Companies also have a development department, which is in charge of fund-raising, special events and managing relationships with patrons and potential donors. A company manager may act as an administrative assistant to the artistic director, as well as a tour manager and a liaison between dancers and artistic staff. People in marketing manage the company’s brand, image and social media presence, while public relations associates handle press inquiries and announcements. All of these positions require business acumen, so while your knowledge of ballet is a huge plus, you’ll need a college degree to be considered. For leads on undergraduate and graduate programs in arts management, check out Association of Arts Administration Educators and the National Council of Arts Administrators.

 

Of course, if business skills aren’t your thing, you may want to consider a behind-the-scenes career on the production side. I’ve known several dancers who’ve transitioned into stage management, making sure performances run smoothly from backstage. If you’re itching for something more artistic, you can always pursue a career in costume, lighting or set design. Many companies also have a videographer and photographer on staff (both of whom work closely with the marketing and public relations department). Of course, these positions require further training, too.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about arts administration or production, I would contact professionals in positions that interest you for insight on what they do on a daily basis, as well as what skills and educational credentials you'll need to get started. Career Transition For Dancers is a great resource for those thinking about the next step—for more information on how they can help, click here.

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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