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Colleen Reed and a classmate in rehearsal at The University of Oklahoma. Photo by Noor Eemaan, Courtesy Reed.

When you decided to pursue a dance degree, it was most likely with the intent to join a ballet company after graduation. But college is also a place of self-exploration and discovery—and sometimes your dreams change. While auditioning for companies may seem the natural "next step" for graduating dance majors, a degree can lead to a variety of paths. Here are four recent dance program graduates with four different career goals.

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Ballet Training
Young in Nashville's Nutcracker. Photo by Karyn Kipley, Courtesy Nashville Ballet.

Kristin Young's family is a legacy at Indiana University. While they weren't dancers, both her mother and her sister had attended IU, and she grew up near Indianapolis making regular pilgrimages to Bloomington for sports events. So when the rejection to IU's highly competitive ballet program came, it was a huge blow. “I always thought that I would either go to IU or straight into the professional ballet world," says Young, who is now an apprentice with Nashville Ballet. Luckily, she was careful to apply to several universities. When she was accepted to the University of Oklahoma, she began imagining a different path.

Attending college before a professional ballet career has become a legitimate option for dancers. But because there aren't as many ballet-focused dance programs, serious bunheads tend to only consider a few. If you've got your sights set on just one or two schools, the competition can be as fierce as any company audition. But getting rejected from your preferred college doesn't have to be the end of the world. By researching all the options available to you, and planning your audition process strategically, you can improve your chances of getting into a good second- or third-choice school. Plan B may even end up being the best thing that ever happened to you.

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