“I remember declaring at age 13 that if I didn't get into Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet or New York City Ballet, I just wasn't going to dance," says Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principal Julia Erickson. “I thought any other company was subpar." A student at Seattle's PNB School since Level I, Erickson was bred for “big ballet." While in the school's pre-professional division, she frequently performed corps roles with PNB, and toured with the group to Scotland, England, Alaska and Hong Kong. But when company contracts were distributed her last year in the school, Erickson didn't get one—and she was confronted with her own ultimatum.
Ballet students tend to dream big, and that's not a bad thing. But don't limit your professional potential with a “go big or go home" attitude. Your career goals shouldn't revolve around an impressive resumé alone, and many dancers have discovered that it's actually easier to find artistic fulfillment in a regional company. DS talked to ballet professionals about the big benefits of joining a smaller group.
Need something to watch obsessively this weekend? DS has got you covered. The entire Dance212 web series is now online and is fully updated. You probably caught Season 7: "Where Are They Now?" But what about where they were? A lot has changed for the dancers featured on the show, and now that you can watch from the beginning, it's even more gratifying to watch them progressing toward their goals.
Sure, Jamal is dancing with Ballet Hispanico now, but remember when he was a senior at Julliard, gushing about how excited he was to be in the studio rehearsing with Sidra Bell?
The most inspiring part of Dance212 is watching all the dancers develop their artistry, while their love of dance continues to shine. As Victoria says, looking back it's hard to recognize yourself - but that's a good thing.