Career Advice
Rachel Papo

The range of emotions dancers feel during performances can run the gambit from calm transcendental elation to complete dread. If you're the shaking and sweating sort, there's good news for you: Those performance jitters don't have to be a bad thing.

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Career Advice
Negotiating a higher salary doesn't diminish your love for dance; it only reinforces your value. Getty Images

There's always that fateful day each year, usually in February or March, when ballet contracts are renewed. Dancers file into an office one by one, grab an envelope and sign their name on a nearby sheet of paper to signify the receipt of their fate. Inside that envelope is a contract for next season or a letter stating that their artistic contribution will no longer be needed. This yearly ritual is filled with anxiety and is usually followed by either celebratory frolicking or resumé writing.

Whenever I received my contract, I would throw up my hands joyfully knowing that I would get to spend one more year dancing. In 14 years at Boston Ballet, I never once looked at my pay rate when signing a contract. The thought of assessing my work through my salary never crossed my mind.

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Career Advice
Even when you're in the back of the studio, how you hold yourself matters. Photo by Liza Voll

Dancers are physical communicators. It is both our profession and our passion. But what happens when the music stops and there is a break in rehearsals?

Our communication doesn't end when the choreography is completed. The truth is, the way you act at rest can make or break your career. Ballet masters, choreographers and artistic directors see meaning in all forms of body language, not just those that happen while the music is playing.

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Dance Training
Students at Walnut Hill

From their first moments in the studio, female ballet dancers are taught to hold themselves upright and control each movement of their body with intense precision. Yet in partnering, these rules of independent practice are challenged. Sasha Janes, Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music faculty member and partnering coach, offers some tips for how female dancers can navigate this change in approach.

(For tips for male ballet dancers, click here.)

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