“Ballet helped me a lot during the job interview” – Adina Beer
Today’s guest started ballet in her hometown of Berlin. It wasn’t so much her love for dance that opened that door but rather the recommendation of her pediatrician. She worked at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, which eventually merged into the Staatsballett Berlin. Conscience about her professional evolution she went back to University to study cultural management which allowed her to manage one of the biggest Ballet schools in Boston, Massachusetts. Today she lives again in Germany and works as a software tester for an IT company out of Munich. A warm welcome to our guest: Adina Beer!
Please find the transcript for this episode below:
ballet, career, job, berlin, people, decided, company, dancer, helped, thinking, university, started, munich, business, belly, learn, experience, study, ambition, years
Adina Beer, Harald Krytinar
Adina Beer 00:00
After the ballet career, I was picking up things so much faster. Because you know this, you understood you and your choreographer comes in, he shows you like a combination, and you have to pick it up in one minute. And if you don’t show it correctly, you are out like you’re not interesting anymore. And this is what you deal with every day.
Harald Krytinar 00:25
Hello, and welcome. Thank you for tuning in. In this podcast, I meet former professional dancers to have them share their experience about career development. Today’s guests started ballet in her hometown of Berlin. It wasn’t so much love for dance that open that door, but rather the recommendation of her pediatrician. She worked at Deutsche Oper Berlin, which eventually merged into the Staatsballet Berlin. Conscience about the professional evolution, she went back to university to study culture management, allowing her to manage one of the biggest ballet schools in Boston, Massachusetts. Today, she lives again in Germany, and works as a software tester for an IT company out of Munich, a warm welcome to our guest. So welcome to this program Adina. Thank you very much for being here.
Adina Beer 01:10
Thank you for having me. I’m very excited to be part of this podcast.
Harald Krytinar 01:14
Oh, that’s so kind of you to say, it’s really long time ago that we actually work together. And I’m really excited about this, because it’s really long time ago, probably more like decades than years now. You know, but at the time, of course, when we were colleagues, I never asked that question that I would really like to ask today is, how did you actually get to discover ballet or dance for yourself?
Adina Beer 01:39
That’s an interesting question. Because actually, it was very simple. When I was about five, six years old, my children’s doctor said that I have a weakness with my skin around the stomach area and recommended my parents I should either do ballet or swimming. And as a child, I decided to do ballet because swimming, I thought I can go anytime to the pool and go swimming. But ballet, I had to really take a course. So that’s how my interest for ballet started. And my parents put me first into like, sort of like a contemporary ballet class. And I was so bored with that I really wanted to be on the bar and doing like strict exercises like first position, second position and learn other things. So they switched me to a different school. And I started with Tatjana Gsovsky and Gert Reinholm in Berlin it was a known private school. Yeah, and that’s how my ballet career or Yeah, my my ballet dance classes started and I fell in love with it.
Harald Krytinar 02:45
That’s fascinating. So it was a medical prescription that led to you discovering ballet, eventually. There was no ambition, I guess at that time to become professional. How did that come about?
Adina Beer 02:56
It was early teenage ages that I started thinking about that could be serious. Like you went from one time a week to like five days a week training, you started learning some repertoire, I was like, getting more fascinated about the job, like doing it as a job itself. And I started actually auditioning for bigger ballet schools. And in the end, so after going through like Germany, and like Munich, Dresden. And all the known ballet schools, I was accepted at a few. But I still decided what I was missing was that you get a proper regular education at the same time. And since my families were my family was no one is like from the art field. And they were also a little bit concerned about that. And we decided, Okay, I’ll proceed staying at a private school, ballet school, but also do my regular education, school education and go for high school degree. And in order to keep up, I took a lot of private ballet classes. So I could keep up the level with the kids that like have six hours a day like training. And I fell in love with it. I was like, even though I proceed just in case, because you never know when your career is over, it can happen already during education. I proceed with my regular education. And in the afternoon at nights I go on a train and I’ll try it. Like I want to try I want to go for it.
Harald Krytinar 04:37
So I hear a lot of determination and a lot of forward thinking already at that time. I mean, there’s one thing to have that ambition and the dream and there’s another thing of actually making that dream a reality. Do you remember when that happened when it actually became that you managed to actually then get into a professional company? How did that come about?
Adina Beer 04:58
So I find my high school degree and an after like everyone else after graduating from whatever school I went to auditioning and I was already like my school was affiliated with the dojo by Berlin so I was already in the children’s ballet and I performed as early on as a child in all the children’s sections or parts of the ballet shows at Deutsche Oper Berlin so I knew already some people and while I was auditioning like the word spread that I’m looking for job as a ballet dancer and so it happened that actually one of the dancers like got injured and I was there at the right time and was lucky enough there so we oh okay we need someone right now can you do it do you have a job already I’m not at all I love to take it that’s how I got in they were like okay it’s only for half a year now so when the dancer returns but then actually I had one foot in the company and that was it I stayed after even though the other dancer returned I was allowed to stay so that was the beginning of my career?
Harald Krytinar 06:11
Wonderful so yeah it’s I think it’s so typical for so many people that you always need a certain level but you always need a bit of luck as well?
Adina Beer 06:21
Harald Krytinar 06:23
So you had that mix which is wonderful so that eventually allowed you to move into the professional career obviously you starting out it’s all very optimistic you know a dream comes true in a way what do you remember when you start to actually think this career will end at some point do you remember when that thinking actually started to show up in your reflections?
Adina Beer 06:48
Yes,… it actually happened very early I mean I started already as a teenager thinking about okay how to proceed my education and being prepared for everything and actually in the beginning the first couple of years I really enjoyed it didn’t think of anything else but then I started thinking I also wasn’t the youngest I was already 20 when I started the professional ballet career I was like what happens if I get injured I have yeah and my career’s over tomorrow and at that time it was also a weird feeling like in case you want to you decide to go to university and study I was a little concerned I’m getting older like each day and maybe it’s weird if I’m like in my mid 20s and then I sit with all these 19-year-olds in a class and I at that time I couldn’t I didn’t appreciate it that I actually like maybe bring some value also to go to college late so that’s like in my mid 20s I started already to think about yeah it transition or how I could prepare a transition from ballet to something else.
Harald Krytinar 08:08
Do you remember then when that time or that day or that week came I mean how did that feel when you have decided for yourself that you will stop soon do you remember that what happened around that period how did you come to that conclusion or how did you take that decision eventually?
Adina Beer 08:23
So, it took me over a year to prepare that transition it was also related to at that time was when Staatsoper was like reduced to significant less dancers, Deutsche Oper was reduced to significantly less dancers there were a lot of cuts in Komische Oper. The plan to put two companies together and for me I was sure like if I want to continue my ballet career I want to be in a big opera house that was always my dream I never wanted and I wanted to stay with the big classical ballets and I told myself okay if I can’t do that then I want to do something very different. So that was clear in my mind and I first just thought okay I I like animals so why not become a veterinarian so just for fun I applied for further studies like to become a veterinarian and in the first round I didn’t get accepted because my high school grades weren’t they weren’t really like they were mediocre they were okay but like for becoming a veterinarian you need to have a one point something like to be accepted but then I got accepted in the second round because of the amount of waiting time I had and that meant that I would need to quit my career like in three weeks and move from Berlin to Munich now it’s like I can’t do that I can’t just like make that decision and three weeks I changed my life completely I wasn’t prepared for that so I denied that opportunity. I was like, No, I continue, I look for something else. And then I actually got help. I was lucky, I went to the working cons Council, and I got a coach. And that coach helped me a lot transitioning, so the whole process took a year. But I still continued working at an eyedropper, as usual, like as a dancer. But on my free time, I visited that coach, and we worked on a plan. And first, I had the idea. I’m not actually sure if I want to study and go to university, if that’s really something for me, maybe I should start with a job right away. And then the coach was like, well, you have your high school degree, it would be a waste if you don’t go study and you can reach so much more once you finish university. And I was always interested also in marketing and things. She was like, well, you are an artist, you’re not a ballet world. Why don’t you study like arts management, and then you can do anything backstage and I can be art for your neck, you can but you can also manage you become a director, you learn all the business, things as well administration, development, marketing, but specifically for the art field. And that idea became more and more interesting. So yeah, I applied again for different universities and got accepted to all of them. So I had a choice all over Germany, and I picked some Potsdam, which is not far away from Berlin… I didn’t move far. But, yeah, so that whole process took about a year. And I knew pretty early on in the spring, I was accepted and decided the college, and the season was done in summer, so I had enough time to prepare my mind for it.
Harald Krytinar 11:49
Wow, that’s there’s something that I’m really intrigued about. But I will get back to that in a second. I would just like to ask you, because you said then you move on into that new role. And I just wonder, how did that feel for you? You said it took about a year to get ready to set everything up? How did your relation within the company develop in that time with the other colleagues?
Adina Beer 12:11
You mean, during that time when I knew the transition, transition is going to happen?
Harald Krytinar 12:16
Adina Beer 12:18
So with parts of the colleagues, it took off some pressure because I wasn’t the competition anymore. And they weren’t a competition for me. And others, it felt like they actually valued the decision I took because they saw Wow. Like for so so many years, belly was the only thing we thought about and this was our vote and you just breaking out of it. And you have the courage to actually go out and try something completely different. So it I kind of admired it. So it was like both ways. For me personally, yeah, I could feel like it took off a little bit of the pressure like it was I was set in one point, like I was trying to enjoy every day on stage that I could because then you’re like soon that will be the last day on stage. And I will miss that time very, very deeply. Because it used to be till then like my whole life. But I was excited to start something new. Also. Because I was prepared for it. That’s what I wanted to do. And I decided to go for it. So it was my decision. And I wasn’t forced into like, it was always my biggest nightmare that one day like someone tells you or doesn’t cost you any more. And every day you go and look at the cost and look for your name and you can’t find your name anymore. And I just wanted to avoid that that would have been much deeper like pain than actually deciding yourself. This is not a cut. I’ve had enough experience. I loved it. And this is a good point where I’m happy and where I’m at my personal high point in my career. Yeah.
Harald Krytinar 12:18
Wow. So a very proactive, conscious decision working towards a new goal…
Adina Beer 14:09
Harald Krytinar 14:11
What I wanted to ask just before was this change process that you experienced? It seems there was it was a very technical approach to it, you know that you said there was a coach and you were talking about different options, and I was what you wanted to do, and you apply to universities. So that’s all very, very technical. But then the other half of it is, of course, also the whole emotional side, which you described some of it between being excited. Maybe it was a bit fearful, a bit sad, but I wonder how did you manage at the time, this emotional side? Were you aware of it? Was it something you actively dealt with? It is something that you were aware then afterwards. Do you remember at the time how you looked at that emotional side of it?
Adina Beer 14:51
Yes, I was definitely aware of it. And I was happy that from early on there. Wasn’t just the belly side like I always had other interests. So my second passion for example was horse riding, which doesn’t match at all with ballet. I shouldn’t say that I read horse riding while dancing was probably not allowed, even though it was not written in the contract skiing wasn’t officially allowed a motorcycle, but writing wasn’t mentioned. But that allowed me I had, I knew different people outside the ballet world, and I had outside friendships and these friends that actually supported me and helped me and like, I could just let myself go there and yeah, deal with my emotions and just have that support. And my family was also very supportive. In fact, it was funny like the female side of my family, so my mum, my grandma, they were a little bit upset and sad because they loved seeing me on stage. My dad, my granddad was like: finally she’s proceeding a proper career, that might make some money. Give her a future…
Harald Krytinar 16:13
Wow, that’s an interesting insight. How did you deal with those different voices?
Adina Beer 16:20
It was sometimes difficult. It was nice like my granddad my dad, I grounded me sometimes I made really aware of. Okay, you should think of your future because like I said, a ballet career can end any second. But I also admired like having friends and a family that went to every ballet performance, and we’re proud to like, show pictures around with their friends and family members.
Harald Krytinar 16:47
I guess we all had that experience. Yes, I remember that. My parents, of course, being more proud, I think without me being present than when I was there. But he definitely felt that it was very important to them that Yeah. And also just in reflection to what he said about horseback riding so that I remember I went skiing and motorcycling so I guess I was a full on criminal at the time.
Adina Beer 17:15
I think that was really written a contract written in the contract, no skiing, no motorcycles,
Harald Krytinar 17:19
I think it’s, it’s the past. So it’s being grounded at the same time, also having this dream element of potential ahead of you, I think you described it really well, that feeling you know, it’s not one or the other. It’s really a mix between those two feelings. I think that’s really nice, the way you said that. I wonder today when you obviously have stopped, you’re not a professional dancer anymore today, but I would be interested: where’s this dance element? Is that still somewhere?
Adina Beer 17:47
Oh, yeah, it’s always present. It has from the beginning on and it never left me and it actually made me the person I am today. And it still helps me progressing in my career. So I’ve done since I quit ballet, I’ve done very different things. I studied art management, and I did an internship in America. That’s where I met my now husband. And after being after graduating university, I decided to move to the States. And my first job, I was still looking for a job in the art field. And my first job was working for the second-largest ballet company in Boston as a school programs manager. So they had an attached ballet school. And I was running all the administrative side of it and planning school programs and studio rental and so managing ballet school. And we decided to move to Europe after being seven years in Boston and working during that time for that ballet company. And I had almost like a little meltdown like it was I needed a break from the art field. I could really feel it because I was always there like weekend’s nights I was there all the performances. And then there was a lot of drama. And I just felt like I needed a break. I need like an eight to five job where I at 430 I can clean my coffee cup and dropped my pencil and put my jacket on for half an hour and leave the office I really wanted to have something regular, stupid, no thinking out. And I applied that’s my first job in the business world. So away from the art field. And I became an administrative assistant and so we moved to Munich and I became an administrative assistant. And here Bally helped me a lot. Actually, already during the interview, I didn’t know much about the business world. But during the interview, like when I wasn’t sure how to answer the questions, I started comparing everything to my experience in ballet. And the guy didn’t know much about ballet. So he was like, I don’t know how it’s to run a theater, but you show me engagement. You show me curiosity, passion, reliability. That’s what I need. So I don’t care where you come from, but you have you deliver all the qualification I need you to have for the job, you are precise, like you’re very ordered, seem to be very orderly and lined and I’m like, What can go. So that’s how it actually helped me. And it helped me during the job as well, because like you needed to be already studying, I mean, going back to studying at university, it helped me out. When I graduated high school, I wouldn’t be ready to go to university because I couldn’t focus. And I just was done with schooling and learning and all that. And after the ballet Korea, I was picking up things so much faster. Because you know, this, you understood you and your choreographer comes in, he shows you like, a combination, and you have to pick it up in one minute. And if you don’t show it correctly, you are out like you’re not interesting anymore. And this is what you deal with every day. And now I was like in college, and like learning something new. And I could pick it up really fast, because this is what I was used to all the time. And the same in my job, like, so I transferred to the business about and they told me something new. I was like, Okay, show me how this program works. And I started suddenly started like using computer programs. And before I could only use Word and Excel and PowerPoint. And probably not that even right, like, yeah, so then we had a child, and I got bored after six years, like doing administrative work now, so I decided I need a new challenge. Now I’m ready to start something new again. And I switched to an IT company. First they hired me as a sales representative, even though I didn’t have any experience with sales, but they said, I sold myself so good. So I can sell this stuff. It’s like, shall I take it? I try that out for one and a half years and the company maybe decide. That’s maybe not the best thing for me. I also didn’t enjoy it so much. Like always. Not just the fact talking to people, but in a way talking to people. You’re trying to sell something constantly, like always having that in the back of your mind. That was kind of stressful for me. And yeah, since it was an IT company. They were like, well, you’re so curious about things. And you’re so passionate. And so why don’t you try testing, like and I’m like, I mean, I tried selling it for you. So I know how it kind of I understand how it works. Give it a shot. Let’s try. And here I am since one and a half years now I’m a software tester. And yeah, still belly is constantly with me, or my dance career is constantly with me, because it just gave me the qualification to be able to do those things, even though I wasn’t working in a team before. Like, yeah, it just helped me transition pick up things fast and being curious about and show the passion and the engagement. And yeah,
Harald Krytinar 23:58
Here you are indeed. You make it sound so easy. It’s wonderful to see. I think it’s really fascinating the way you describe the disconnection that there was between the belly, your belly experience and your corporate experience. I think it’s so clear the way you build bridges. It’s not like one or the other. It’s not like that’s the old thing. That’s the new thing. It’s for me, it seems so coherent the way you presented that it’s just an evolution of, you know, you added skills, you added knowledge you edit, but the driving force still seems to come from the same place, you know, this ambition to always move forward and to discover and to learn ready. Exactly. I think that comes really nicely across in what you said. I don’t know if it’s relevant that question, but I just wonder: Do you think there’s anything in the experience? If you look back at your ballet career, you look at your corporate career, you know, other some important issues that are that you would say is positive or negative about the experience like is there something that you know that’s really different and you really miss that or even something that’s really in the ballet word, for example? Or something that’s back there that you say well I’m glad that is over you know or some elements where you would think for this very good or with this very negative thing it’s I’m happy that I moved on?
Adina Beer 25:18
So, um, what I do miss a lot about ballet career is the being on stage feeling the stage air like that it’s a specific smell like when you go into an opera house and you go backstage and all that the warmth of the stage lights and being blinded by the lights and knowing you actually there there are people there that go into the theater during their free time to have an enjoyable evening and to give that to people and be part of art like that’s something I miss nevertheless I’m very happy where I am right now I don’t want to miss any any step of my career that I’ve I’ve pursued like I’m happy with the I’m satisfied with the amount of time I’ve been dancing I’m satisfied with what I have been dancing and I’m satisfied with the jobs I’ve taken on in business often I’m actually kind of enjoying the benefits of the business world the salary is different it gives you a different quality of life if I look at the current COVID situation I never stopped working I was lucky enough like the job I have that I actually got more work we got more contracts since the whole digitalization is a little behind on Germany we got many more jobs to do also an interesting fields even an education helping schools and Munich to become better with digitalization and so it’s it’s a little bit I see in a way like your back a little bit in education or its sector so yeah I’m sometimes I in the business world it’s like very it can be very snobby I’m lucky enough the company I have is very easygoing and they support you like as an individual they see you as an individual and support you and your career and whenever you want to switch out I feel like it’s good for you to switch they support you with education learning and you constantly learning and educating yourself and moving on but I know from big corporate companies like I’ve had experienced with I missed the kind of quirkiness and stuff of it people like working with odd people they have a different mindset they are like a little bit I don’t not I don’t want to say crazy in a negative way like in a nice way crazy to have crazy ideas they actually go for something new they actually try with something like no one else would try and I think that’s something that I took with me and that helps me now in the business world because I’m kind of the unicorn amongst all these business clowns in business suits I show up I was like why don’t you do it this way and I like but we’ve done it for 30 years like that and I’m like and time has changed life has changed so you should change like you should adopt like don’t just think straight like do something like crazy yeah actually you’re right it sounds a little bit weird to do it this way but let’s try it out all right.
Harald Krytinar 28:59
So your creative power inspires gray office people…?
Adina Beer 29:05
Harald Krytinar 29:06
That’s wonderful so I hear that ambition is there and you’re not ready to give that up it seems which is good when you look back actually you know when you were still a dancer and you had no idea where your life would take you how did you look into the future you know at the time do you remember I don’t know did you design like your ideal future did you imagine things or and how different did it turn out or how similar did it turn out do you have any of those memories?
Adina Beer 29:36
Everything turned out very differently. When I graduated high school, I said I will never go to university I will never sit in a classroom again and learn and do was like going into the study I always I also thought I would never work in it just really boring and like that’s nothing for me here I am I’m working in it so I actually like I had these like childish ideas that say of things I will never do it as never something for me but yet I did them so everything like changed and I realized I don’t think it’s good nowadays like to plan long time ahead like I feel like you have to be always open-minded and don’t be stuck to like one direction but look around you and if there’s something that interests you like try it out and if it doesn’t work then do the next step like try out something different and nowadays with ai you don’t stay like 30 years in one job anymore like regularly you switch your job every five years or six years like if you stay longer that you already like the old person in the company or in the job so I think you just have to adapt to that and just be open-minded look around to and go with the flow where it takes you and don’t plan ahead for 10-20 years because for sure you will get disappointed or will turn out differently most likely.
Harald Krytinar 31:18
With that insight and knowledge that you have today which is fascinating to hear ,it makes a lot of sense, if you could go back in time what’s the advice you would give yourself what do you think is the most valuable information or knowledge that you have today that would have maybe helped you the most at the time when you were… when the change was happening?
Adina Beer 31:40
Definitely being open-minded and trying out new things don’t think about it too much like really go for it and try it out and it’s not a bad thing if it doesn’t work out then you just think of the next step and you try out something different is sometimes people make you feel like it’s a bad thing to quit something you’ve just started because you feel like oh that’s this is not for me and then you get criticized that you don’t you don’t stick to one thing but if you’ve really tried it out and you really feel like that’s it’s not a match for me then work on a new match and try it out like be open-minded be free and try yourself out.
Harald Krytinar 32:36
That’s so inspiring to hear.
I think there’s a quote I remember from somebody who said successful people that quit things all the time but it’s about quitting the right things and sticking with the right things not just doing it because he said he would. So yeah, it has to make sense to you it has to resonate with you I mean you spoke about yourself to try things out and even failure can be a positive element in a in the development of your career as a final question I would just like to ask you what’s the big thing from your dancing time and what how you work today what do you think makes it all come together for you do you feel like this is the right place for you that it’s a good mix today. What are your ambitions for years to come?
Adina Beer 33:19
It’s definitely for me to right mix, how everything has happened so far in my life like thinking backwards… I wouldn’t want to change anything I’m happy with the decisions I made that I decided to go the hard way taking education at a private school parallel to a regular school education and maybe the career wasn’t as long as with some others but I was satisfied with the amount of time it was a good time like a very deep impact yeah now I lost the red line…
Harald Krytinar 34:06
…but there’s no red line here so the outlook for you…?
Adina Beer 34:09
So I’ll look yeah like I said I learned like not to look too far ahead like I have a family now I have a child I learned that the job is not everything in your life that family and friends are very important and your free time whatever you’d like to do your hobbies also very important and to really yeah live every day and like decide what is what is really like what you really have to do now is it really an emergency at your job that you have to do over hours or is it more worth it like to spend that time with your family or with your friends or your loved one. So I really learned to appreciate that and to make a cut like is that that work is not completely consumed me, it has to make me happy, I have to enjoy it, I have to have a passion for it. But it’s not everything in my life. There are other things now that are as equally important or even more important than the job that just gives you if you say it the hard way it brings the money and so you can have a good quality of life. But at the same time, you need to have passion for it still. So you need to find something that really satisfies you. But also need to have the balance to your private life and doesn’t let it consume your complete life.
Harald Krytinar 35:44
Is there anything else that you would like to share do you think would be interesting about your experience about the career development? Is there some aspect that I didn’t ask you that you would like to share?
Adina Beer 35:55
You covered pretty much everything like I made some notes before and like I had to it’s been a long time since I proceeded my ballet career. And I really look like at my papers sort of when was it? What How was everything rendered. I go to school even though it’s a part of me, but I didn’t remember the years and how much time has gone by but it’s so grown inside of me the experience that. Yeah, like, like I said, be open-minded, go with the flow and really, if you want to do something to it, don’t hesitate. And if you fail, that’s not a bad thing that actually just educates you further or brings your faster forward. If you never try if you never fail then you don’t progress. You can’t learn from it.