College never used to be an option for ballet dancers. They entered companies in their teens and performed until injury or retirement forced them to reconsider their education. Now dancers often pursue a degree and a career at the same time. It means greater control over their choices, and a deeper, richer approach to their dance lives.
Pointe’s October/November issue features our annual Higher Ed Guide, a comprehensive list of college programs that offer ballet training. There are more than a hundred to consider. To help readers weigh what works best for their goals, Pointe columnist Amy Brandt (also a member of The Suzanne Farrell Ballet and a part-time student at Marymount Manhattan College) interviewed three dancers in “Paving Their Way.” Each has taken a different route to a degree. They share the ups and downs of balancing their dance and academic lives, and offer eye-opening stories of what is possible for a determined dancer to accomplish.
Cover girl Lindsi Dec nearly enrolled at New York University when she got a scholarship, but she decided to defer when she was also accepted in Pacific Northwest Ballet School’s professional division. Despite technical hurdles, she entered the company’s corps, and with her trademark blend of focus and humor, earned a promotion to soloist. An artist with a passion for stretching her limits, she has continued to seek new challenges, the latest being Myrtha in Peter Boal’s much-heralded reconstruction of Giselle. Read how this consummate bravura dancer has reshaped herself to a Romantic ideal in “Seizing Her Moment.”
Artistry is an ongoing quest for all true ballerinas, as Gillian Murphy knows well. She has shared her process for mastering a role in “Known by Heart,” her first essay for Pointe. Her frank—and inspiring—step-by-step advice offers insights for dancers and admirers alike. Her approach resonates to every aspect of learning: Being successful means preparing—thoughtfully, carefully, diligently—for all the stages you will go through.
Lindsi Dec: Getting a Degree, Too
“I’m about to start my third year of college through PNB’s Second Stage program. We have a joint collaboration with Seattle University, and they bring the teachers over to PNB. It can go from 7 to 9:30 at night after we have a full day of work. It’s very intense. But I’m excited about starting back up again in September.”