Updated: Feb 18
Business Development Manager, Ballet Austin
Former ballet dancer Samantha Canedy holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The University of Texas at Austin. Upon graduation, she continued her dedication to the performing arts with Youth America Grand Prix. While there, she played a key role in project management for their extensive regional competition tour. As a returning Ballet Austin Pre-Professional Division alumna, Samantha is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Ballet Austin's Business Development department as well as project management for related strategies of acquisition and retention of the Young Children’s Division.
We asked Samantha to reflect upon her career transition.
I understand an injury resulted in your career transition. At what stage in that battle and process was the tipping point for you?
Samantha Canedy: I don’t think I can distinguish a specific stage that served as the tipping point. What led to my ultimate career transition was rather a collection of internal battles and realizations. I underwent surgery on my right foot immediately after my final year in the trainee program with the aspiration to come back stronger and ready to take on more contemporary work. The reality was that I struggled with juggling the responsibilities of being an adult, a physical therapist that might not have understood what I really needed to recover, and I was burnt out. The last year of my traineeship was difficult for me mentally and being in the studio was the last place I wanted to be. It would take another two years post-surgery to reach the conclusion that my time pursuing a career as a dancer was over.
What was it like to be immersed in university life post-ballet?
Samantha: I didn’t really get involved in university life. Half of my higher education was as a part-time student at a community college, which took the better part of four years, while the other half was as a full-time student at the University of Texas at Austin, which lasted two and a half years. In the first four years, my studies were more of a hobby. Checking off the core curriculum classes required for a bachelor’s degree in the US. In the two and a half years I attended UT, I was eager to be finished with school. I was often one of the oldest students in the class and wasn’t interested in immersing myself in university life. I knew that the value of what I was gaining through this education should propel me into the future and I was eager to get there.
How did you come across Advertising at the University of Texas at Austin?
Samantha: During my first semester at UT Austin, I was still unsure about which degree I wanted to pursue. I can’t recall what exactly lead to my enrollment in an Intro to Advertising and Public Relations class, but that is essentially how I decided to major in Advertising. I was intrigued by the artistic, scientific and psychological aspects that all came together in building a successful advertising campaign.
Can you describe in detail how you landed your role at Youth America Grand Prix?
Samantha: Upon completing my degree, I knew I did not want to pursue a career with an advertising agency. I wanted to promote something meaningful. The summer after graduation, I spent weeks at a café sending out resumes to anywhere I thought fit my “ideal” company. Oddly enough, it was through social media that I landed my job with Youth America Grand Prix. A friend, who I had danced with, had been working with YAGP on a part-time basis and reached out to see if I might be interested in a full-time opportunity. As I hadn’t been having much luck with my resumes, I gave it a shot. I interviewed for the position and within a few weeks, I had landed my first full-time job!
Was it difficult going back into ballet and working on the other (administrative) side?
Samantha: Fortunately, no. My responsibilities with Youth America Grand Prix separated me from the artistic side of the business. The target audience of the organization are young dancers just beginning their careers. With my new role as Business Development Manager at Ballet Austin, some days are harder than others. Working in a studio means I come face-to-face with those who fulfilled their dreams of a professional career in dance, but I am grateful that my work focuses on young children and introducing them to the joy of dance.
You’ve come full circle as the Business Development Manager at Ballet Austin where you originally started. Did you anticipate that your journey would lead you back to your origins?
Samantha: Leading up to my return to Ballet Austin, I was adamant that I wanted to leave Texas entirely. Having been raised in a military family, I was eager to explore other parts of the United States or even Europe. However, the amazing opportunity I was offered by not only a dear friend but someone I see as a mentor, changed my mind. Now that I have been back for a little less than 9 months, it was the best decision I could have made.
What advice do you have for dancers thinking about career transition or about to go on the journey?
Samantha: Whether you are ready to start your career transition tomorrow or not for a few more years, be patient with yourself. It’s a challenging decision to leave the profession you’ve spent years training for. I’d encourage you to start exploring other career possibilities now. Try not to be too self-critical of what you can offer a future career. The dedication, diligence, and effort we place into training translate into the most valuable and un-trainable soft skills.