Jahna Frantziskonis – Insta-Dancer & Rising Star

imageJahna Frantziskonis, one of San Francisco Ballet’s corps members and an Audrey Hepburn look-a-like, is exploding on the dance scene with her behind the scenes access of the ballet world on Instagram.  The saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words.  Her photos and videos capture more than a backstage glimpse of dancers, but a gaggle of young people having fun, living their lives with friends while doing a job they love.

Born in Tucson, Arizona Frantziskonis started dancing young.  She began her training with Mary Beth Cabana at the Ballet Arts Tucson.  She explored and developed at various summer programs including School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet School.  She danced in the corps for the Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) for three years before joining the San Francisco Ballet (SFB) corps in 2015.  At the PNB, she was in feature roles for Justin Peck’s “Debonair” and Twyla Tharp’s “Waiting at the Stations.”  Her elegant jumps, effortless looking pirouettes, and commend of the stage draws an audience view straight to the corps.

In 2014, she began her exploration in choreography as apart of a collaboration with another PNB ballerina, Angelica Generosa.  Featuring the Pacific Northwest Ballet School’s Professional Division, the duo titled the work “Jaja Y Qua” which highlighted three couples set to three movements by the Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. Generosa and Frantziskonis made the perfect team as Angelica was the idea person and Jahna was the detail-oriented coach.  Her choreographic aspiration has been pushed to the back burner since 2014 as she made her transition to the San Francisco Ballet in 2015.  Her time has been dedicated to the stage due to the busy schedule she began to keep at an international dance company.  She says, “This career allows you to gain knowledge each step of the way.  SFB does a lot of touring and there are alternating reps for each season program.  A dancer can be a Shade and in the same week dance Forsythe.” She has flourished at the SFB as this past December she dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the “Nutcracker.”

Frantziskonis says, “Dance serves to connect with something bigger than ourselves.  Where there is potential to create what we imagine.”  As a dancer and human you can see in her photos her dreams to change the course of dance.  She has a light in her that resinates through through her eyes, smile, and excitement as she rehearses and waits in the wings with her fellow dancers, choreographers, and friends.  Just like Audrey Hepburn, she shines from the inside out as she is figuring her place in this crazy dance world.

Check out Jahna’s Instagram here!

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Careers in Dance – There is More to Dance then Being a Performer

11412211_10100594299141981_7579294585861180014_n (2)Recently at a baby shower, my college friends and I were reminiscing about the past, the choices we have made after college, and where the future is headed.  In life everyone makes choices and it is a rarity that everyone can have it all.  A college dance friend is currently seven months pregnant, another dance friend is getting married this fall, and I have aged one more year closer to thirty.  Do I believe that you can create your own destiny?  Absolutely, but anyone who is successful will explain the sacrifice they had to go through to get there, and as a performer there is a lot of sacrifice.  As a performer you could be struggling in a big city like Los Angeles or New York working from stipend to stipend or contract to contract.  Performers are also working multiple jobs like bartendering, serving, or being a hostess, but there is more potential in the dance field than just being a performer.

First you could become an instructor. At dance studios, a person with extensive dance training can command $15-$30 an hour depending on if you are living in a big city or a small town.  There are also opportunities to teach at high school and college levels, but teaching at either level requires you to have a masters in dance education as well as specific certification.  If you have an extensive performance background this might get over looked at certain colleges if you decide to teach at the college level.

Besides teaching, you could go the health route.  Get certified in Yoga, personal training, Pilates, or massage therapy.  These jobs will allow you to work and coach athletes such as dancers in their cross training endeavors to keep their bodies up to par during their performance years.  A few friends of mine are doing both, still performing as well as doing some health related job so they can make money and live in the expensive room that they are renting for $1200/ month in NYC.

Finally, there is arts administration. Granted you can get a masters degree in arts administration, which I have, but if this is a field that you want to get into there are ways around getting a masters degree. For example, I did an internship in communications and development at a small organization of two people called the Natasha Trifian’s Performance Group in NYC before I was hired at another company as the Assistant to the School Director.  From there I moved up in the organization and eventually moved to another organization when I stepped into a new city. With arts administration you can also go the for-profit/ commercial route working at talent agencies, booking agencies, publicists, and performing arts center presenters.

If you haven’t figured it out the possibilities are endless. Limiting yourself as only a performer can be career ending.  Think ahead, and know that with the right moves, a good head on your shoulders, and some drive you are already ahead of 80% of the general population.