Take a Chance

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

A dancer’s road will never be easy. That’s why it’s helpful to look to someone like Mayara Pineiro, whose success is steeped in gutsiness and perseverance. Although the Pennsylvania Ballet soloist had received some of the best training in the world at the Cuban National Ballet School, at age 17 she fled her country to pursue the career path she didn’t believe was possible at home. She was taking a huge risk, and almost had to stop dancing altogether. Pineiro tells us how it turned out in this issue’s cover story.

If you’re thinking about pursuing a dance career, get used to making tough choices, especially if you want to take your training to the next level: Which school is right for me? Should I move away from home? Which path will lead to professional opportunities? It’s hard to predict the future, which is what makes this period so stressful. But you’ll find inspiration from some of today’s top professionals in “ ‘The Best Training Decision I Ever Made.’ ” They share their fears and turning points as students, and show that it’s okay to follow your instincts and take risks.

Of course, the decisions don’t stop there. For those transitioning into professional life through trainee programs and second companies, opportunities for promotions are scarce. It’s now quite common to spend three to four years in unpaid or low-wage entry-level positions. In “Semi-Pro Limbo,” we take an honest look at this reality, and offer advice for those debating whether or not to stick it out.

While being a dancer is challenging, it comes with tremendous rewards—and not just onstage. In this issue, we spotlight two of today’s biggest stars, American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland and English National Ballet’s Isaac Hernández, who are using their talent to give back. Their charity work not only gives them greater career satisfaction—it’s concrete proof that dance has the power to transform lives. —Amy Brandt, Editor in Chief

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Gregory Batardon, Courtesy Prix de Lausanne

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