Your Degree, Plus Pilates
Teaching Pilates has long been a great gig for performers. It's a flexible job that builds on dancers' skills and offers a steady paycheck. Today, college programs are making the career super-accessible by offering Pilates certification. By the time students graduate, they have the physical benefits of the method and a source of income that can carry them from one audition to the next. Here are three dance programs where students can get certified.
INDIANA UNIVERSITY, BLOOMINGTON
Degree offered: BFA in dance (the BS in ballet is not affiliated)
Certification: STOTT PILATES Intensive Mat-Plus
Cost: Up to $350 in additional credit fees, plus about $450 for books, materials and exams
Program length: 10 hours per weekend for four weekends spread over one semester, plus a six-hour advanced mat course
Fitting it in: To graduate, all dance BFAs must create a unique cross-training plan, logging at least 90 minutes of additional conditioning per week. Pilates certification classes count towards this requirement.
Networking: The dance program shares instructors with a local studio, Vibe Yoga and Pilates Studio. Many students also teach through the university's recreational sports program.
The program also offers a 200-hour Vinyasa yoga certification. Students may complete both.
CORNISH COLLEGE OF THE ARTS
Degree offered: BFA in dance
Certification: Cornish College Pilates Mat Teaching Certificate
Cost: Free for dance majors, plus $400 for the required summer teacher-certification intensive
Program length: Two hours of Pilates mat per week for one semester (an elective that also counts toward the BFA), plus 10 observation hours and a 30-hour, 10-day summer course
Fitting it in: Certification is built around the completion of three courses already required for dance majors: teaching methods, kinesiology and movement foundations.
Networking: Faculty member Michele Miller runs Halfmoon Acupuncture & Pilates, where recently certified students teach two months of free classes to the public. Some of Cornish's certified alumni have stayed on at Miller's studio as paid teachers.
Recent alumni can join in the summer course to get certified.
Degree offered: BS in dance
Certification: 450-hour Drexel Pilates Training Program, which includes reformer, tower and barrel work. It helps prepare students for the Pilates Method Alliance certification exam.
Cost: Free for dance majors, $100 per term for other Drexel students, $450 per term for non-Drexel students. This does not include the cost of 30 mandatory private sessions.
Program length: Approximately 10 hours per week for one year
Fitting it in: Training program classes are separate from dance requirements. Students must make room in their schedules for extra classes, seminars and lectures.
Networking: Director Jennifer Morley invites local Pilates studio owners to observe training. “A lot of studios were looking for a place to find teachers," she says. “They watch labs. And at the end of the year, we have an advanced reformer showcase."
Drexel Pilates certification is open to the public, giving university students the opportunity to interact with nondancers.
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.