Let’s be honest. Working as a professional dancer is not going to make you a millionaire. And unless you’re an international superstar or you’ve put in a few years at a top-notch company, you probably won’t be well off either. But don’t despair! Here are some ways to pinch your pennies, without resorting to a life of ramen noodles.
#1 Pack your lunch.
Preparing food at home is one of the most effective ways to spend less money. Invest in some Tupperware, and make your meals to go.
Turkey sandwich at Quizno’s, for five days: $40
Materials for five homemade turkey sandwiches: $16
#2 Join a union.
If you belong to a union like the American Guild of Musical Artists (which represents companies such as New York City Ballet), you’ll be eligible for discounts on everything from studio rentals to dance classes. Other benefits may include emergency assistance and access to health plans. (AGMA dues are $78 a year—but it’s worth it.)
#3 Skip the fancy coffee.
The cheapest way to get your caffeine fix is to buy a travel mug and brew your coffee at home. But that isn’t always possible, especially when you’re meeting pals for a post-rehearsal cup. Make it a rule to order plain coffee, instead of that half-caf-skim-soy-mocha-latte.
Coffee brewed at home: Approximately $0.48 per cup
Grande Starbucks coffee: $1.95
Grande Starbucks latte: $3.75
#4 Save your receipts, and track expenses.
There are two good reasons for this: The first is that you can add up your expenses and see where you’re spending too much. Then you can strategize on how to use your money in a more productive way. The second reason is for tax purposes. Some job-related purchases are deductible, like classes, dance shoes and gas for driving to auditions.
#5 Know thyself.
Do you get stuck with a big cell phone bill every month, because you go over your minutes? Use a prepaid phone instead. Are you a sucker for online shopping? Unsubscribe from e-mail newsletters from your favorite stores. The point: Know your habits. Figure out what tempts you, and be vigilant about avoiding those temptations.
#6 Order your prescriptions generic and online.
Ask your doctor to prescribe generic brands whenever possible. Name-brand birth control, for instance, will run you as much as $50 a month, while a generic brand can be as inexpensive as $10! Most insurance companies also offer discounts for ordering prescriptions online.
#7 Get a side job with perks.
Two words: employee discount. Look into jobs at dance retail shops, theaters and dance studios. Some teachers may also offer free classes in exchange for helping them take attendance, unlock/lock up dance studios or maintain their website.
#8 Get certified.
Many dancers choose to get certified as Pilates or yoga instructors. Not only is it lucrative, it’s excellent cross training. Bonus: If you teach at a gym or studio, you may get a free or discounted membership.
#9 Don’t carry a credit card.
Some people say it’s important to carry a credit card in case of emergencies, but if window displays lure you to the checkout counter, then it’s better to leave your plastic at home. If you feel unsafe without it, carry a prepaid credit card instead. If it gets lost or stolen, you can still get your money back.
#10 Never charge basic living expenses.
This is important: Only use a credit card to pay for a basic living expense if it’s an absolute one-time emergency (you had to buy a plane ticket to go see your dying aunt and now you can’t pay this month’s energy bill). Why is this important? Eventually your credit card will max out. You’ll be stuck without a way to pay your cell phone bill and you’ll still have to pay for all those months you charged it! If you can’t pay for basic expenses (rent, food, transportation, energy bills, etc.), then you need a side job.
#11 Buy a fan and an extra blanket.
The cost of energy keeps going up. Take it easy on the thermostat (and Mother Earth) with a fan in the summer and an extra blanket in the winter.
#12 Volunteer for studies.
OK, we’re not suggesting you let medical students cut off and reattach your toes. Sometimes health studies compensate participants, and you won’t necessarily have to take strange drugs or volunteer your appendages for a chopping lesson. A research team may want to find out if people who take vitamin C every day are less likely to get the flu than those who don’t. Ask your doctor about volunteering for clinical trials. But please be smart about this. Don’t do anything that could interfere with your health or your number-one priority: dance!
#13 Be commuter-savvy.
If you live in a city with a mass transit system, take advantage of multiple-trip discount tickets. For instance, if you ride the NYC subway twice a day, you’ll save $44 every month if you buy a $76 unlimited MetroCard instead of paying as you go ($2 per ride). If you must drive, carpool as often as possible and split the cost of gas.
#14 Be smart about sales.
Using sales to your advantage means purchasing the yogurt brand on sale at your grocery store instead of your usual brand—it doesn’t mean buying a $500 Fendi bag because it’s marked down from $2,100. No matter how great the sale, you’re still out $500! Moral of the story: A sale only saves you money when you’re buying something you would have purchased anyway.
#15 Big purchase? Compare costs online.
It may be convenient to hit the local Comp USA for a new computer, but you’re better off comparing prices online first. Websites like bizrate.com and pricegrabber.com list all sorts of products so you can compare costs and find the best deal.
#16 They don’t call it happy hour for nothing.
If you’re 21 or over and you and your friends like spending Thursday nights at the local watering hole, schedule your plans for happy hour, when drinks are seriously cheap.
#17 Buy a Brita.
Instead of buying bottles of spring water or using a delivery service, invest in a water filter (like a Brita) and a metal or plastic reusable water bottle. Some water delivery companies will entice you with offers like $1 a day, but you can still do better—and you’ll be helping the environment, too!
Three months of bottled water: $93
Three-month Brita filter: $8.99
Reusable water bottle: $2 at a dollar store!
#18 Use free wi-fi.
Stealing your neighbors’ internet doesn’t count! An increasing number of city parks, libraries and cafés offer free wi-fi these days, so pack your laptop and save a bundle. Check wififreespot.com for a state-by-state directory of free wi-fi locales.
#19 Don’t smoke.
Besides the obvious health risks—like, um, death—cigarettes are just plain pricey. One pack of cancer sticks in NYC is about $8. At three packs a week, that’s $1,248 a year!
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!
Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.