Ask Amy: What If I Love Ballet, but Don’t Want It to Be My Career?

June 6, 2023

I take dance because I enjoy it, but everyone else is making a future for themselves and improving more because it is the only thing they want to do. How can I not feel self-conscious of my lower level, even if it was my choice? And, on that note, how can I still be a good dancer if I don’t want to make a career out of it? —Autumn

It’s natural to feel self-conscious, and maybe a bit left out, if you’re not quite at the same commitment level as your ballet-obsessed classmates. Perhaps they even seem to get more attention from teachers due to their desire to dance professionally. But dancing recreationally doesn’t make you “less than”—you can still feel passionate about ballet, train seriously, and nurture your talent without wanting a career. In fact, the vast majority of dance students don’t pursue careers.

Research shows that having a hobby can be enormously beneficial for your mental and physical well-being. You’ve likely learned a lot about self-discipline and focus from your years of training, which are valuable (and transferrable!) life skills. But there’s also the fun stuff: exploring your artistry, moving to music, forming lifelong friendships and making memories with your classmates, and performing onstage.

What makes ballet less fun is the comparison game. While your colleagues are probably under enormous pressure to “make it” in dance, you don’t have to worry about that. Besides, we only have room for so much in our lives, and if you have other interests and priorities, it’s okay to make space for them. Sometimes that might mean taking fewer dance classes or not enrolling in a pre-professional program.

While you may fear that your classmates are pulling ahead because of how much they are investing in their training, try to focus on your own progress and goals. Feel the music, and absorb what your teachers have to offer. You can improve by being present and focused in your ballet classes, and through your genuine love for dance.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at [email protected].