"Dance Career & Dating Life - Can You Have Both?" by Keira Whitaker on danceplug.com

We’ve all been there and we’ve all had to say those dreaded words… “I can’t, I have dance.” When we were in grade school, we had to turn down sleepovers; in high school we had to turn down Friday night movies with friends, and if you continued to pursue a dance career through college… you had to turn down the occasional fraternity party because you had another late night rehearsal. And then, of course, there’s the worst case scenario… you have to turn down that Saturday night date! That’s right, your crush has finally worked up the gumption to ask you out and you have to say “no” because you have dance! Then you’re desperately texting him to find another time to meet, but every time he gives you another date and time you have rehearsal. Finally, he says “no worries, we’ll find a time later.” That’s when your heart sinks, because you know that there’s no stopping the cycle of rehearsal and commitments, and your next available Saturday is three months away. So is there a balance between the dance & dating life? Is it possible to switch out the pointe shoes for heels every once in a while? I believe that the answer is yes, but it’s not a walk in the park, and can come with a price! 

I can’t, I have dance.

In my opinion, you can make both work. I know plenty of dancers, including myself, who balance a boyfriend and training. I lock in date night and try to use my free mornings to take class instead of filling my calendar with evening classes. So is it possible? Of course it is; it just takes a lot of hard work and planning in advance (my planner is basically my bible). However, I have noticed that a number of professional dancers do not make their dating life their focus. Based on some serious social media stalking, it became clear that ballerinas such as American Ballet Theater's Katie Williams, and New York City Ballet's Claire Von Enck choose to keep their dating life off of social media. These ballerinas are young, beautiful, and unbelievably talented, but their social media doesn't show any signs of plans for a long-term relationship anytime soon. But if you think about it, dating for any dancer is risky. You finally have landed the company of your dreams, so getting hitched and starting a family is probably the last thing on your mind! You only have about fifteen years to live out your dream career… so family planning is most likely NOT the priority at the moment. 

their relevé count is usually higher than their amount of tinder swipes

With that being said, there are plenty of professionals who get married and make lots of sappy posts about their loved ones. Dancers like Justin Peck, Travis Wall, and Maria Kowroski are very vocal and open about their relationships. They post about their partners on their social media accounts often and include them in their artistic endeavors - though, it is important to note that they worked hard to establish their dance careers before we started to see evidence of their relationships. So maybe we should change the lyrics of the classic song to…”First comes dance, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.” Apparently, one of the prices to pay of becoming a professional dancer is that your dating life looks a little different than the average person. Your social media is for dancing posts, not cute pics of you and bae, and your date night plans revolve around your rehearsal schedule instead of the movies that are currently out in theaters. 

But don't despair - plenty of dancers have made it work, balancing their passion and successfully raising a family in the long run. Dancers just have to spend more time in the studio than they do on Bumble, and their relevé count is usually higher than their amount of tinder swipes. Ain’t no problem with that!

About the author

Keira Whitaker is a dedicated teacher, performer, and choreographer, who has been dancing for the past 21 years. She recently graduated from the University of California Irvine with a BFA in Dance performance and a minor in English.