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Career Crossroads

Samantha wrote:

Hi, my name is Rachael, and I have been torn over this decision for the last three months, and I've prayed, not enough, thought, asked, and just sat and stressed about it. If you have anything suggestions, or hopes, or advice, I will still make my own decision, but trust me, your advice would HELP A LOT :)

I am a freshman musical theatre major right now, at a university. I live at home in another state, but I wanted to go somewhere different, and I got into the musical theatre program here (there is an audition to get it), so I came here. So far, I really like it here. The people are amazingly nice, I've made good friends, I'm doing well academically, it is beautiful, and overall a good experience so far. The theatre program is also great. I am learning a lot, and it looks like I will have a lot of opportunities to perform, learn, and grow in the next few years.

Here's the issue, being a musical theatre major, you are good at singing, acting, and dancing, and while you are supposed to be a 'triple-threat', many of us are better at one of those things over than the other. Mine is dance. I absolutely love dance. I have been dancing since three years old, and love doing all types, choreographing, and just being on stage and dancing with passion. It wasn't until 10th grade that I discovered I had some kind of voice and acting skills, then after being in the musical Peter Pan, my love for musical theatre, and doing all three on stage, made me fall in love with that too.

I even thought about not going to college, and getting started on a career and spending time improving all three things, just not in college, but in the end, my parents really wanted me to go and I knew my education, especially in an age like this, was important. Yet, while the musical theatre here is great, the dance is ... well ... awful. Really bad.

I am in an intermediate ballet class and I am learning stuff I was doing in 7th grade, and I am dancing alongside some Dance Majors. Some are even seniors ... They also won't let me in any higher level classes, because I am a freshman, so to move up to a level that still is a bit easy, I have to wait another year.

I don't want to complain, everything else has been great here, and maybe this is a sign that I just really need to focus on my voice and acting here, and make those better. But I just miss dance so much. The town is also very small, and the studios around aren't very good either. Also, when you are involved in a production, it makes it difficult to find times to attend classes. I thought maybe I could just tough it out during the year, and then during the summer, work and dance, but dancers bodies just won't work the same like that.

So I was thinking about transfering to a school with better dance. But someone asked me, what is it you really want? Which do you want to do? And I just dont know. I love both, and I think I want to do musical theatre, and then maybe do national tours and stuff after college, but whenever I think about what I love most, my heart belongs to dance, and choreography, which I have found a strength in.

I am quite lost right now on what I should do. ... I am not asking you what i should do (even though I would LOVE to) but what you have to say about my story. Anything would be helpful. Thank you so much, this means a lot to me.

Dear Samantha

Phew, at least you aren't asking me what you should do!

There are many issues here, the best I can do is highlight a few that you might think about a little more (though I'm sure you've been over and over most of it many times).

You've emphasised that your first love is dance; but is it what you are best at? One reason this occurred first is that you didn't mention it!

You do need to make a decision that you can live with, butagainst a background of 'business sense' - Most of me says 'go with your heart'; but be sure your heart isn't on another planet!

There's also the issue of where you are; how much of the problem is being away from home, being in a small town that is all new to you?

There's also the issue of the dance teaching; I have an impression that if you survive the first year, things will get better? If that's so, then how hard (really!), will it be to survive that year? While you may not learn much that's new, surely, at least you'll stay fit, and be able to 'mark time'?

Finally, while the other man's grass is always greener, another college may have good dance - but poor acting or voice development. You didn't see the weakness where you are, until you started - the same may be true elsewhere. Or worse.

When all's said and done, my advice is to go with your heart ... but only after you've really, really, thought through what you'd do if you followed your head.

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