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Go Beyond the Dance Studio With These Online Certifications

Day to day you're scheduling a ballet Zoom class, tuning in to an Instagram Live Q&A with an admired ballerina, and getting plenty of R&R watching the best dance movies of all time. Yet, you're still lacking fulfillment. Given that you were used to a full day of dancing pre-COVID-19, it's no surprise that "quarantine" has been your most challenging role.

With time off your feet (literally), now is the perfect opportunity to explore a skill beyond 32 fouettés and double tours en l'aire. Ballet will always be your first love, but COVID-19 has shown it's wise to supplement artistic endeavors with other talents. Ballet's unforeseen risks, such as injury, audition rejection, seasonality and freelancing, make for unknown career longevity. That's why it's always beneficial to have a range of skills to help support the demanding lifestyle of a dancer.

In response to this time offstage, many professional dancers are delving into reputable online programs to earn certifications they can use now or for when they choose to take their final bow. For example, Sarasota Ballet corps member Lauren Ostrander dreams of becoming a physical therapist for a ballet company after she retires. She's spent the past few years completing online certifications in personal training, fitness nutrition and spin instruction, and she is currently finishing her kinesiology degree at California Baptist University Online. (Next she plans on taking a course through the Performing Arts Medicine Association.) In this time of uncertainty, she urges dancers to take advantage of online certifications. "This is time you won't get back," says Ostrander. "So when it's all over and everything is okay again, what will you wish you would have done? Do that now."

With a variety of online resources, many of which are offering discounts because of COVID-19, you're likely to discover something that gets you excited. Whether you picture yourself teaching fitness, running a ballet company's marketing, or working toward a degree in political science, here are some online certification programs to help you get a head start.

Lauren Ostrander wears a dark tutu, black tights and pointe shoes, and a blue feather on her head and kicks her leg in developp\u00e9 ecart\u00e9. Behind her is a line of dancers dressed as saloon girls and cowboys, and a lone cowboy stands on the right side of the stage looking on.

Lauren Ostrander and Ivan Duarte with artist of Sarasota Ballet in Balanchine's Western Symphony

Frank Atura, Courtesy Sarasota Ballet


Coursera offers a variety of courses, specializations, certificates and degrees from over 200 universities and companies. A number of courses are free, and additional ones are available at an affordable cost. With studies ranging from graphic design to IT support to business administration, you can find a nice contrast from your work in the studio.

Jeanette Kakareka, a soloist with Bayerisches Staatsballett, recently pursued a Mandarin language certification from Peking University through Coursera; it's motivating her to improve communication and build relationships with her fiancé and his family, who are Chinese. In regard to developing skills outside of ballet, Kakareka says, "A well-rounded person brings more life experience to the stage and has a more honest presence, and having other passions is critical for mental health whenever you are forced to take time away from the studio."


In a very user-friendly fashion, Alison offers free certificate courses, diploma courses and learning paths. Course categories include technology, language, science, health, humanities, business, math, marketing and lifestyle ( such as music, literature, etc.). Within each of these, there are sub-categories, providing plenty of options to explore. You earn a certificate simply through completing the course and achieving at least 80 percent in each assessment. Additionally, there are resources for career advice and development, no matter where you stand in your personal journey. There are even photography certificates to help you develop your dance portfolio and reels.

A young athletic woman wearing a green tank top and leggings props herself up on her elbows on a yoga mat and types on a laptop computer.

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American Council on Exercise (ACE)

Through their mission to promote movement, the American Council on Exercise (ACE) offers NCCA-accredited certifications to become a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, health coach and medical exercise specialist. ACE supplies tools such as video coaching sessions, quizzes, audio coaching sessions and handbooks. Self-paced, these programs are ideal for a busy rehearsal schedule and allows you to study on your time. Also, a fitness background compliments a dancer's athletic lifestyle because one can teach in the studio and virtually, while breaking a sweat.

International Sports Science Association (ISSA)

The International Sports Science Association (ISSA) is acclaimed for their personal trainer certification, bundles, and other health and fitness specializations. Well-recognized in the industry, ISSA has a number of gym partnerships, making employment promising. That said, if after six months of completing your certification you haven't found a job, they will refund you. If you're passionate about peak-performance nutrition, yoga, or becoming CPR/AED certified, definitely check out ISSA.

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