The old fashion way for dancers was to not go to university, as companies used to hire them pretty young and both companies and dancers dedicated themselves to be successful in their field. In the old times, being a ballet dancer was not considered a low-income career, or an underestimated one. But sadly these days, being an artist is risky.
It is indeed a dream to have a successful, long dance career. And I am working towards having it.
But what happens after you are 40?
The majority of the old-time dancers I mentioned before are either choreographers, teachers, artistic directors, principal couches or ballet masters, producers, theater directors... you name it. The young generation of dancers will not be anything without them. However, for me, these are careers I am not much interested in. Destiny will tell me if I get a job like that after I retire, but right now, these are not my intentions.
I have always had a facility to study, thankfully. I went to good schools and besides the fact that I jumped in between four ballet schools, I had a pretty good dance education as well. But I am a person who loves to learn in both fields, and I do not pretend to stop the habit.
This brings me to the reasons why I want a Bachelors' Degree when I decide to finish my dance career, and how I would like to apply it:
1. I love History, and therefore I want to dedicate myself to this field when I retire
As you may have realized if you read my blog and listen to my podcast, I love to learn and explore Dance History. In case you were wondering what university career path I am seeking, I plan to either dedicate my Bachelors' in Art History, with some extra focus on journalism or communications in order to be able to be a Dance Critic, Historian, do research at theatres, author, journalist, etc.
2. I don't plan to be a teacher
Being a ballet teacher is definitely a way to have extra income when you are dancing, and there are many dancers that are passionate about it and continue to be the best teachers worldwide. I have figured that I do not have the right patience or the ability.
So, instead of going through the Dance Pedagogy path, I plan to apply my knowledge of the art form to educate on a different way. And this brings me to the next point.
3. I want to educate audiences
Instead of having a fine patience teach technique, I would love to educate the audience. Spreading the word about art, dance, theatre, and beyond has become an arduous task. Therefore, I plan to build my footprint and challenge myself to educate those who are curious or have no knowledge of ballet at all. This, of course, does not exclude educating dancers about the ballets they are performing.
4. I am a learner
Ever since I can remember, I love school. I love starting a fresh school year, buy supplies, sit in a classroom or in front of my computer, and learn. There are so many things in this world we can learn from, and exploring more about my art form is definitely a goal of mine. Besides, keeping my mind occupied whenever I am not in the studio makes me have more productive days overall.
5. Flexible studies are available for dancers
Many people have reached me concerned, thinking that I will abandon university plans overall and become a professional dancer. This is not true. As I explained before, I am eager to learn more, and nowadays, it is a myth to think that dancers don't have time to go to university.
And being both is possible!
As a very "rare" example (I always put him as an example), es Steven McRae. He achieved his Bachelors' (Honours) in Business Management, and now he is going for his Masters. Everything with being a Principal Dancer with the Royal Ballet.
And Steven is not the only one. Technology opens many doors for us, doors that allow us to study at our own pace and achieve the same degree as a regular university student. And let's not be concerned about age and graduating "as soon as we can," because there is always time to study.
These are, overall, the reasons why I plan to study on the side. I have a long way to go, but while I focus on being in shape, dance with the company, and build my career as a dancer, I can always plan for my "retirement at 40" and "the Plan B"
I am excited for both my Plan A and Plan B. For those dancers that are not sure about their pursuing two paths, you have time! Just remember, universities will always be there, but dance does not last forever.