Q Jill, I’m a student graduating from high school and I have a real passion for dance, especially African dance. I’m not for sure though if I’m going to study dance and theatre in university or if I might take a college or even a professional school route. I wanted to know about where I might be able to start building my experience locally or even in the States if there were paid apprenticeship or scholarships available to help me afford that. I just want to tour around the world dancing. Thanks,
–Jessica Thomson.

A This is a wonderful career path that you have chosen! I’ve had the privilege of seeing live dance performances and I’m always in awe of how much bodily control and strength it takes to make the performance appear so seamless. Having spoken to many dancers, it’s also not the most pain-free of professions either. You really have to love it and be committed to the final result — the art form, your passion and your audiences. I’d totally recommend you check out Toronto’s Ballet Creole with artistic director Patrick Parson (www.balletcreole.org). Ballet Creole is home to many dancers, choreographers and musicians whose passion for performance is fused with Caribbean and contemporary African cultural art forms (dance, theatre, music, etc.). The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre with artistic director Judith Jamison (www.alvinailey.org) is another school you must get familiar with. Celebrating its 50th anniversary, there are three Toronto performances May 16-17 at the Sony Centre (www.sonycentre.ca) to wrap up its 27-city North American tour. The school offers scholarships, student talk backs and mentorship opportunities. Good luck!

Q Jill, I am completing my CMA and have an MBA. I have a permanent job as an IT business analyst. I am interested in a volunteer position or a part-time position in business consulting or business planning, where I can learn skills to upgrade my resumé for senior positions. How can I find volunteer or part-time positions? Thanks,

A Your first step would be to tap into your existing network at your current job to see if anyone there has any leads on potential volunteer spots you could take advantage of. After that, do your research. Contact companies you are familiar with and ask them if they are connected to any volunteer organizations. The most important thing with your hunt is to ensure that wherever you end up you’ll be connected with someone who can actually help you attain the skill set you’re looking for. Try to tap into a mentorship relationship if possible. Browse through www.charityvillage.ca, Canadian Management Centre www.cmctraining.org, and Canadian Association of Management Consultants www.camc.com for some helpful ideas.

Jill Andrew CYW, BA (Hons.), BEd, MA '08 is an award-winning journalist and educator with additional expertise in the performing arts, public speaking, PR, media literacy/awareness, fundraising and entrepreneurship. www.jillandrewmedia.com, or www.curvycatwalk.com.

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