Why do you performers need to be well-versed in all forms of performing arts?
Performers are required to be excellent in all forms of performing arts today, from the conservatory to the professional level. For example, no college in the United States allows you to audition in or study only one form of dance or theatre. Even the most renowned ballet companies in the world require contemporary work along with classical ballet. Broadway shows or top ranked musical theatre programs require the best dance, vocal, and acting training. Top dance companies in the world perform a repertoire that is diverse. This is why the Chambers Performing Arts curriculum is the most diverse and one of the most rigorous programs in the United States, to fully prepare you for a career.
What are pointe shoes made of?
Pointe shoes have no heel and there is no wood or metal in pointe shoes. They are worn by female dancers and all ballet students are evaluated after several years of study to be considered for pointe work. There is no “set age” for female students to begin pointe-it depends on many factors such as technical acumen, strength, and muscle development. Pointe classes require extreme focus and discipline and several ballet classes per week at Chambers Performing Arts. A pair of shoes cost between $65 and $80, and advanced students will use several per month.
How long does it take to become a professional dancer or performer?
This question is very personal in nature, but the following answer is a generalization. It takes roughly 10 to 12 years of training to become a professional dancer. Training ideally begins when a student is between the ages of 7 and 10 in dance, 15 or 16 in voice. Acting classes for youth should be kept very natural and age appropriate material is a must. Beginners attend technique class once or twice a week. By the time a student is 13-14 years of age, they will be taking 10-15 classes per week. For our young students on Broadway (e.g. Billy Elliot), they must rehearse daily, have academic tutors, and perform nightly. Some of our top performers are home-schooled or attend non-traditional schooling to accommodate training; others are very successful academically in traditional schooling along with 15 hours of weekly performing arts training. Top performers are comparable to the finest Olympic athletes in training, focus, determination, and discipline.
Why does it take so long to prepare, and isn't a dancer or performer’s career rather short?
A large part of a dancer's job is to make the difficult look easy. Unlike professional athletes, whose exertion and effort is perceptible and expected, dancers strive to create the illusion of effortlessness. Simply leaping and turning are not enough. Dance is a theater art; the gravity-defying movements these artists can execute are meant to mystify and entertain. Actors and singers are no different. The processes should not be witnessed onstage just the final polished product.
Careers in dance companies are indeed short. Typically, a dancer's career ends anywhere between ages 35 and 40. Dancers often move into choreography. Many also teach, direct their own companies or resume formal education.
This is another reason that Chambers Performing Arts trains the student in all forms of performing arts, because you can still star on Broadway into your sixties, and most opera singers ripen in their 40s and 50s. You have more options the more diverse and excellent your training is.
We have students go directly to Broadway at ten years old, others at 25-some go directly to the finest dance companies or conservatories-and others go later. There is no perfect career plan in performing arts-except in the training that must be followed very intensely.
In recent years, however, many of the country's top universities have devised special programs that welcome dancers, and many other artists, to join in resumed undergraduate and graduate level study. For example, Chambers Alumni and Co-Director Paige Chambers performed in many shows on Broadway and then received her Ivy League education as a non-traditional student in an unrelated field to the arts.
Does my child need an agent?
The answer depends on your child’s skills, attention span, and goals. There are several Atlanta agencies who represent many students at Chambers Performing Arts, as Atlanta is a large hub for film in today’s industry. Some of our students are also represented by agents and managers in NYC and LA, especially those currently in Broadway show and/or pilots, television series, or film. You should never pay for an agent or casting director for any reason when seeking representation for your child. For more information, please make an appointment to speak with Paige Chambers through either front desk studio.
What other skills are acquired by training in performing arts?
There are too many to list, but here are a few:
- Training for performing arts is primarily done in groups (excepting voice lessons) and provides students with a dynamic that promotes working well in groups-a skill that will translate into most all career possibilities even outside of performing arts.
- While words can help us start to learn a dance, ultimately we need to form nonverbal knowledge—what coaches incorrectly refer to as “muscle memory”—in order to perform anything complicated. Ample evidence shows that brain networks, not muscles, store memories of movements such as dance steps. These memories, which are called motor memories because they are specific to movement, are fundamentally different from memories of verbal descriptions of these same actions.
- Performers also show high levels of skill in geometry and math due to the common ground of numbers, of counts, and they must use math to process performance information. The relationship between music and math dates back to before Pythagoras, and is still used every day in all forms of performing arts.
- As students progress in training, they learn more complex patterns, choreography, counts, and are quickly taught. The footwork is changeable, rapidly executed, and contains complex spatial patterns.
- Self-correction and corrections by instructors enable performing arts students to step outside of themselves and apply critiques to better their technique-a trait that obviously crosses into most facets of life.
- Creates a “see-and-do” intelligence in performers: The student’s ability to transform a dynamic visual of a step or choreography which puts their visual image into physical action is an incredible skill to possess. They must also translate that into movement.