i have being doing modern dance for 11years and ballet (flat) for 7 years. (btw i'm 15 years old). i want to be more intense with dance than i normally have been, and get more in shape. i've been thinking about starting pointe and taking some weekly yoga classes, but my current dance school (modern base) offers neither, and i cannot afford the prices of any other groups/organizations within my area. i really feel like my financial situation is restricting me from developing more as a dancer. is there any way i can get around this?

Hi! That is so wonderful that you want to push your dancing to the next level through yoga and pointe! You’ve got the right idea!

There’s always a way to pay for classes! Many schools and organizations offer both financial-need-based and talent-based scholarships/financial aid. Some schools will even negotiate a trade, like offering you free/discounted classes if you volunteer to do things like clean the bathrooms a couple times a week, or assist in teaching classes for younger students, etc. You might even be able to apply for a job, with free dance classes as a benefit!

The difficult part is going through the schools and speaking with them about your situation. (Or at least I find that kind of stuff difficult). You might face rejection or confrontation from some, which can be embarrassing and disheartening, but you just have to plug away and talk to every studio that interests you. There’s bound to be one out there that can accommodate you, and it’ll likely have a healthy and positive philosophy!

My suggestion is to research all the places you could take yoga classes and more ballet and pointe. Contact them first via email or phone call and say you’re interested in their programs and would like to speak with them. Set up a time, show up a couple minutes early, and speak to them in person. Tell them about your dance background and your love of dance and drive to take it to the next level, but that you aren’t getting everything you need. Let them see how passionate and dedicated and excited you are about dance. (Just the fact that you took the initiative and appear responsible and reliable will earn you huge bonus points). Be very interested in what they are saying. Then tell them you haven’t been able to increase the amount of dance classes due to finances etc. Ask them point blank (and politely and gracefully) if they offer financial assistance or if they are willing to work out a trade or payment plan of some kind.

Speaking in person is key. It’s harder for people to say no to you when faced with your personality, smile, and passion for dance. People are much more open to you if they can actually see you and get a feel for you. Emails and phone calls make it easy to just say no! But seeing your desire up close and personal will make people much more open to finding a way to help you! You by yourself will have more luck than if a parent comes along and does all the talking. They’ll see just how important this is to you and how much you want it!

Also, have you spoken to any of your instructors about this? I would talk to a trusted teacher about your desire to take more ballet and start pointe and add in yoga. You never know what could come of that conversation. And maybe get a feel from the other students about whether or not they’d be interested in more ballet. Who knows, if enough students would want it, maybe the school would consider expanding!

In the mean time, find some guided yoga routines on YouTube or instant Netflix to start doing on your own. It’s never as good as a live instructor, but it’s better than nothing. Give yourself flat ballet barre (and some center if you have space) at home as well. Just recycle whatever your instructor gave you in class! Even just doing some pliés, tendus, and relevés on a daily basis will make you stronger. After all, they are the foundation for every single step in ballet!

Since you want to get more in shape, make sure to cross-train with some light cardio as well. Make a 10 to 20 minute walk part of each day!

Finally, work on strengthening your feet, ankles, and lower leg muscles to prepare yourself for pointe. Even if you don’t get to start as soon as you’d like, you’ll at least be on your way to an excellent foundation! Here’s a post with exercises for the knees down.

You can make this happen, it will just take some leg work and dedication. Don’t be discouraged and keep trying! Good luck!