Ask Amy: My Parents Want Me to Get a Job and Cut Back on Dance Classes

September 20, 2020

I am thinking about pursuing a career in ballet. However, my parents have made it clear that at some point they want me to get a job, which they acknowledge would mean possibly dropping dance, or at least not taking as many classes. I agree that getting a job is important so that I’m able to make my own money, but dropping dance classes is the exact opposite of what will get me to where I want to be. Any suggestions? —Kaia

Getting a job is important for learning responsibility and becoming more self-sufficient. At the same time, pre-professional ballet training is a serious and expensive time commitment. If you really want to dance professionally, you need to make sure your parents understand your goals and what it takes to get there. You may want to consult your teacher first, or even schedule a meeting with your parents and instructor to get an idea of how many classes you need to be taking.

Ask your parents how many hours a week they expect you to work and what they want you to put your money towards, whether it’s for spending, a savings account or funding your dance training. Then, see if you can come to a solution or compromise: Could you temporarily drop classes in other dance genres until summer, when you have more time? What about a seasonal job, when your dance studio is on break? If your parents want you to financially contribute to your training, would they be open to a work–study arrangement at your studio?

As for job ideas, you may want to first inquire at your dance school (allowing you to save on travel time and gas money). Perhaps they have some opportunities to student teach or assist younger children’s classes. With all of your dance training, it would be smart to start developing teaching skills. Teaching can be an excellent source of income during seasonal layoffs at a ballet company or provide spending money in college and beyond—and can also lead to a second career as a teacher or studio owner!

If assistant teaching isn’t possible, see if you could work a few shifts a week in your studio’s office or at a nearby dancewear shop. That way, you’ll still be connected to your dance community.

Other ideas include a regular babysitting job, tutoring or weekend work at a coffee house. Look for flexible shifts that don’t conflict with the bulk of your dance classes. Keep in mind that balancing work, school and ballet training is a lot to manage. If your parents refuse to budge, and you need to cut back on your training, talk to your ballet teachers so that they understand why—they may have some creative solutions.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.