Junior Courtney Necessary has danced with the Atlanta Ballet since 2003.
Like a lot of college students, Courtney Necessary often has trouble dragging herself out of bed in the morning – but not because she keeps hitting the snooze button. She needs that extra 10 minutes because of the tremendous toll ballet dancing takes on her body.
"Sometimes we get really, really sore," says Necessary, a 22-year-old dancer for the Atlanta Ballet who's also a management major at Georgia Tech College of Management. "I can pop just about every joint in my body. Luckily I haven't had any bad injuries, just a few broken bones. I once broke my nose from kneeing myself in the face, and I cracked my tailbone."
After enduring eight hours of dance rehearsals a day, Necessary has come to the College for evening classes since enrolling at Tech in 2003. Her 35-week-a-year contract with the Atlanta Ballet frees her up to take more classes during summers, so Necessary expects to be a senior by spring 2008. She's appreciative of the Atlanta Ballet's flexibility about allowing her to leave rehearsals for exams and other school requirements.
Necessary, who felt drawn to attend Tech because her father is a graduate, believes her management degree will open doors to great job opportunities after her dancing career ends in her later 20s. Most female dancers peak around age 26 and usually leave the profession by 30 because of the severe physical demands, she explains.
Focusing her management studies on finance, Necessary has already gotten some real-world business experience by serving on the finance committee for the Atlanta Ballet's union, helping find inventive solutions to the types of financial struggles faced by many arts organizations. "With ballet, the audience just sees the visual element," Necessary says. "They have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. It really is run like a normal company."
People often ask Necessary if she'd one day like to run her own ballet company, but right now her interests lean more toward joining the growing green movement of environmentally friendly, sustainable businesses in a financial capacity.
Before her dancing days end, she sometimes dreams of joining a bigger company somewhere like San Francisco, but she says she probably loves Atlanta too much to leave. Her family lives here, and her older sister is also a dancer for the Atlanta Ballet. "I love the company," Necessary says. "Since we've got only 21 dancers, we get lots of great opportunities to perform different parts."
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