Making big life choice can be hard – that’s the biggest understatement ever. Choosing which summer program or college to attend can feel like life or death for a young dancer’s training. If you’re doing company auditions, choosing which company to join affects not only your career, but also your entire life. These life choices can feel scary. But you should not feel scared; you should get excited for the potential opportunities ahead.
First, congratulations for getting that acceptance letter from either a school or company. You might not have gotten into your top choice, but having at least one option is better than no options at all. If you have multiple options ever better!
When making any tough decision one tried and true method is the pro/con list. Grab a piece of paper and write down the pros and cons of each program or company. Here is a list of things to think about.
For summer programs consider:
- Cost: How much is tuition, dorms, a plane ticket, or daily commuting costs etc?
- Distance: Can I live at home or will I have to live in the dorms? If I live at home how long is my commute?
- Syllabus: What type of training do they offer? Is it similar to what I do at my home studio or completely different? What types of classes will I take?
- Teachers: Are there certain teachers you are dying to work with?
For college dance programs consider:
- Cost: How much is tuition, dorms, transportation costs, books, dance supplies, etc?
- Loans: Will I have to take out student loans? Will I sign independently or will my parents co-sign? What is the interest rate? How soon do I have to start paying the loan back after I graduate?
- Part-Time Job: Do I have time in my schedule to get a part time job to help pay for school expenses? Can I do work-study on campus? Would it pertain to my major? How will I get to work if my job in not on campus?
- Distance: Can I live at home or will I have to stay in the dorms? How will you get home for breaks?
- Teachers: Are there certain teachers you want to work with?
- Syllabus: What type of training do they offer? Is it more ballet focused or more modern focused?
- Academics: What type of academic classes will you have to take? Can you add a minor or double major? Will your degree be a B.A. or B.F.A.?
- Repertoire: Are they performing rep by choreographers you want to work with or experience?
- Job Rate: How many of their graduates are getting dance jobs after graduation? What companies are they dancing with?
- Repertoire: Are you interested in the repertoire they perform? What choreographer’s works are they performing? Have you done any of their rep before? Will this rep help you grow as an artist?
- Artistic Staff: Is the artistic staff a group of people that you connect with, trust, and think will give you guidance during rehearsal?
- Distance: Is it close to where you live now? Will you have to move?
- Cost: What are you commuting costs going to be? Is the company covering your dance supply expenses such as pointe shoes?
- Pay: Are you getting paid? Does this pay cover all of your living expenses? If not, what other jobs will you get? Does your rehearsal schedule allow you time for a second job? Are your taxes being taken out?
- Schedule: How long is the season? What is a daily rehearsal schedule like? What is a typical theater schedule like? Do they give time for lunch or to take care of your body?
- Benefits: Do they give you benefits such as healthcare, gym membership, physical therapy, or chiropractic services?
Go through your contract with a fine-tooth-comb. Look for details such as having to pay back the company any money you make if you quit mid season, non-compete clauses, conditions on second jobs, when you get paid, how much you get paid, etc.
When going through these questions do your research! Look at the artistic staff, the rep, and any other information you can find on the school or company’s website. When researching flights, trains, or other modes of transportation look at several companies, to find the best deals.
A big choice takes a lot of time and is something that should not be made in one day. At the very least sleep on it!