About Elizabeth

How did you become a success coach and wellness mentor for dancers?

When I was 8, I decided I wanted to dance, and that was the beginning of the next two decades of my life. Like your daughter, I trained at pre-professional schools, attended summer intensives, and dreamed of being a professional.

When I was 16, I moved away from home to pursue more intensive training at the North Carolina School of the Arts. That decision came after a year of family discussion, school visits and auditions.

That first year away from home was tough on me as well as my family; none of us were sure we had done the right thing. The dance world was a lot more cutthroat and “crazy” than I was used to, but I loved the training and was improving and growing.

I kept my sense of humor and priorities, thanks to my family, and landed a company contract with the Cleveland Ballet after my senior year.

I had a happy and fulfilling career with Cleveland and later the Boston Ballet companies, dancing some of my dream roles, but there were troubling moments: friends in distress with eating, colleagues hospitalized with Advil overdoses… there was a dark, hidden culture that no one talked much about.

When a fellow dancer died of complications related to her eating disorder, I knew it was time to leave. I lost my faith in the whole field; it seemed like no one cared about the dancers, just what happened onstage.

I retired and went to Dartmouth College, then moved to Italy to work in study abroad programs. Years later, I realized that I missed dance, so I decided to pursue my master’s in Arts Administration at Columbia University in order to prepare me to re-enter the dance world as an executive director or school principle.

During that process, I wrote a thesis on dancer wellness programs in pre-professional ballet schools and found my passion.

After my M.A., I sought out certifications in coaching on nutrition with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and on the science of motivation and coaching at Wellcoaches School of Coaching. That work, combined with my own experience of the field, pushed me to develop a wellness curriculum that has evolved into the coaching programs I offer now. And that is how I became a coach.

I absolutely love my work. There is nothing I would rather do! 

Who are your clients?

I work with dance schools as well as individuals. I have given workshops at dance schools in Boston, NYC, and CT.

Group workshops in schools give me the opportunity to meet larger numbers of dancers and to have an impact through their trusted training environment.

One-on-one coaching is where the magic really happens though: my Wellness Principles aren’t quick fixes that can be assimilated in one session: they require time and engagement which is one reason why I love working privately in ongoing programs. It gives dancers a chance to really get into the material while having someone to ask questions of and get support from as they go.

My private clients are from all over the U.S. and abroad. Some dancers are at big, elite training schools and others dance in their hometown studios. They all share a passion for dancing and excellence as well as a desire to be balanced, healthy people.

I have worked primarily with mothers (and a few dads!) and their dancing daughters. The mothers are highly supportive of their daughters, as well as committed to keeping them as healthy and balanced as possible. Some of them come to me with questions about what to feed their dancer or to get another point of view on their training environment.

Their daughters are passionate about dance, often thinking about pursuing it as a career, and ready for mentorship. Sometimes they’re the ones who have sought me out, either through a school-based workshop or online. They often have something specific in mind that they’d like to work on, like improving their diet or wanting to be more confident in their dancing. 

How are you different from other coaches?

My unique experience makes me a different type of coach: not only was I a professional dancer, which is an experience you really have to live in order to “get it,” but also, I went to college and had that secondary education experience which so many parents are eager for their children to have.

I’m also unlike dance coaches in that my success is not wrapped up in getting your dancer to be a professional or to win competitions. I am completely committed to supporting your dancer in achieving health and happiness in whatever form that may end up taking for her. I pride myself on putting the dancer first: if her needs and desires change as we’re working together, I am right there with her. It’s important to me that she have a positive, affirming experience dancing, and I’m here to make sure she’s in a training environment where that is possible.

I don’t believe you have to choose between dance and academics, you just have to be flexible with your timeline and expectations. I also believe that you can do anything you want with your dance training: the dancers I have coached are among the brightest, most insightful and motivated people I’ve ever met. They are all doing great things with their lives.

What type of person do you work best with and what is expected of me and my daughter?

I work best with dancers who enjoy talking on the phone, who are open to trying new ideas and pathways to success, and who enjoy sharing what’s going on with them. The dancers who get the most out of working with me are those who can set aside a little bit of time and mental energy every week not only for our phone sessions, but also to contemplate some of the things we have talked about. Dancers who view the program as an integral part of their success flourish with me.

My expectations are that our phone sessions are kept as scheduled (except with advance notice) and that parents and dancers keep me in the loop about auditions, performances, injuries, etc. This is so that I can do my best work with your dancer. Coaching is really a process: consistency is key, even when it feels like nothing new is going on. That’s often the best time to dig into some new work!

What exactly is your Signature Program and what does it include?

My Signature Program is a six-month program with private coaching and other fabulous goodies. All details are shared during our Discovery Session, which you can book here.

Based on what I’ve heard and read about you, I know I want to work with you. What are my options?

I offer a limited number of coaching programs. Please click here to read more and to find out which program is right for you and your dancer.

I know which program will work best for my daughter. How can we get started?

The best way to get started is to schedule a Discovery Session with me. This is a 45-60 minute phone call in which we get to know each other a bit: you tell me what challenges you and your daughter are facing and I can evaluate if I’m the best person for you. It can be helpful to either have your daughter on the phone at the same time, or have her speak with me afterwards, so we can get a sense of each other as well. Please click here to schedule your Discovery Session.

I’m not sure I’m ready to take the plunge… how can I sample your work at low cost to see if it’s the right fit for me?

The best way to get a sense of my work is to subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter. I often use issues I’ve worked on with clients as a springboard for these newsletter topics. Sign-up form is to your right.

You can also explore my blog for an extensive library of all of the topics I have addressed with clients and schools: past and current.

I’m ready to get started, but I have a few questions. Can I contact you?

Absolutely! I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to email me here.

Elizabeth A. Sullivan: Success Coach & Wellness Mentor For Pre-Professional Dancers

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