Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers
vrsfanatic

Auditions: The Dream Company Audition

Recommended Posts

vrsfanatic

Parents, dancers and teachers, the discussion on the thread regarding company audition outcomes has made me curious about different ways parents, students and dancers and even administrators would find the audition process less objectionable. How should/might/could a professional level audition be advertised, conducted and paid for in a way that would be the least objectionable to the users (meaning those auditioning) as well as those who conduct the auditions?

 

Having been through the process so many years ago, without ever questioning nor objecting to the way things were done, I am finding the discussion most interesting on the other thread. How can the process be made better, which in the end only promotes the ballet in a better way? :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
dbleon

I feel that a dancer auditioning who is required to pay a fee to said company deserves the respect of having a "full" class...including the attentionn of said AD or whomever is conducting said class!...There has to be a "better" way, than giving a cursory glance to a dancer and then cutting after 5 or 10 mins...and my #1 pet peeve...if you are only conducting a audition to apease a contractual clause with a union...then please be open and honest and state "there are no jobs to offer"....but then the cash cows wouldnt attend would they!!!!! :thumbsup: This parent is tired of paying where there is zero possiblity of a offer!...Might as well let the thieves walk in my front door and help them out with the furniture..

Share this post


Link to post
cheetah

Clearly communicate the process before the aspirant arrives. If cuts will be made at certain points, let them know. I know some students who are very weak at barre and need to get to center to show their strengths. They may want to forego those auditions where cuts are made in the very beginning. If fees will be charged, let them know. So many problems could be avoided with clear communication. If fees are charged, then receipts should be given, since this may be deductible as a job search fee. It also speaks to the integrity and ethics of the auditioning company that may be collecting the money. During the audition I would expect professional behavior from the auditioner(s). Reading a magazine or book is inappropriate and just plain rude. It sends a negative message from the very beginning. I know that jobs are hard to come by, but I would actually applaud my DS for walking out of such an audition. If the level of professionalism can not be exhibited during an audition I would wonder what it would be like during the season. Auditioners need to know that they are representing their company. These dancers may not get a job, but they are still potential customers. Ticket sales are low, so why make them lower by establishing a negative image in front of the public, however small that segment might be. I mean, how likely might one be to attend a company's performance after being treated shabbily in an audition? What about their parents or friends that hear of such behavior?

 

As for a full class - we had an incident where DS auditioned for a school. It was advertised as a 1 1/2 hour technique class. Times were stated. A fee was charged. He arrived early to warm up. They took his money. They decided to do the audition 45 minutes early. It was 15 minutes long. He was accepted but will never, ever attend that school now. We will never recommend the school. Obviously this is different than a company audition, but it speaks to the same issue - you charge a fee for a class then the individual is entitled to the entire class. It also demonstrates how seemingly simple behaviors can have a larger impact.

Share this post


Link to post
ConstanzaElisabeth

I like when there are cuts, then you know where you stand and if you have a shot, but photos and resumes should be taken after cuts are made or returned to those who are cut. Also, I don't know what the discrimination policy is on this, but if a company is looking for a specific body type, they should say so in detail or require a prescreening by resume and photo so that people dont travel great distances to be cut after a first glance.

I realize that many auditions are cattle calls and prescreening may be a bother to dancers who dont know whether they will go, but it would be very simple to just have dancers email their information(not buy a photo print) to anywhere they might be attending. This would make cattle calls smaller also.

Another thing that has bothered me this year is that when I am trying to plan audition trips, it is so much cheaper to buy tickets early but it is difficult to get in contact with companies/get a response in time to buy cheap tickets. My audition process would have been a lot less stressful if there had been better/faster communication, which again I think would be best served by more use of email correspondence.

Share this post


Link to post
Momof3darlings

The ones we found that actually run smoother are the ones where you are required to send in a headshot and resume and then are notified if they would like you to come on audition day. Those are the ones you know if at least you are under consideration when you walk in the door. But they are few and far between.

 

Other than that, I'm not sure I could write a better post than cheetah just did. As a parent, I cringe at spending the amount of money it costs to get to an audition to think DK might be cut prior to center but that is a performing arts standard across the board it seems so one of those things I have resigned myself comes with the territory. However, if charged an audition fee one should expect a full class with an attentive, adjudicator.

 

I have also often wondered how many wonderful dancers get cut at barre when the movement of center is their strength or the reverse a dancer who is a barre dancer and does make the cut but in center appears weaker therefore might have left space in final cuts for a better candidate. But alas, I just moved off topic..........handslap to myself.

Share this post


Link to post
Ed McPherson

I recently went through the audition process. There were a number of things that bothered me.

 

I didnt like paying for classes, especially those in the company's home town.

 

I didnt like dancing with young girls or boys that had no business being in a company audition, it sounds incredibly crass but at every cattle call I ever went to there was a distinct portion of the room that had no business being in an audition for a company. I couldnt understand how some company auditions looked just like the auditions for summer programs, in a marketplace were everything was running smoothly there would be a distinct and notable difference. I would get incredibly frustrated when I was at an audition with 70 people and no cuts were made, sometimes its important to send a clear message.

 

From the company management side of things, I was always amazed that the majority of dancers would show up to auditions knowing nothing about the company or position they were applying for. Its absurd that young dancers can go to auditions thinking I'll take whatever they'll give me, and have no idea what that might be, it indicates either a failure on the dancer or the company's part. That alone is a great way to set yourself up for failure. It's important to know how a company hires its dancers. It's important to know what each person on the artistic staff looks like. Its important to know the rep they are doing and have done. If you are going to a union company's audition, you should probably take a look at their contract before you show up; if you havent seen the contract what sort of conversation will you be able to have when they start talking about what contract they want to offer you?

 

I wish companies would formalize the interview process, I think fewer and fewer companies are handing people contracts to sign after open auditions because everyone knows you are hiring more than just a dancer you're hiring a person that everyone in the organization is going to have to work with. I took a couple business management classes in college. Before I was hired at Ballet West I had a brief sit down chat/interview with the artistic staff. They wanted to feel out my personality, to make sure I wasnt a total goombah, which I think they were able to figure out. But if I were to evaluate the way they handled it from an academic standpoint from the manner in which I was taught in business classes, they made some mistakes. And they really failed to fully utilize the potential value of the interviewing process.

 

Ballet West's hiring practices have demonstrated to me since I've arrived that they prefer to hire people out of company class, I think this is a widely held preference. As a dancer I think company class is preferable. To me this has left open auditions in a obligatory position. I think companies like NBT and Colorado Ballet are crazy for not allowing dancers to attend company class. I know several new professionals that chose not to audition at those institutions because they didnt want to spend their time at open auditions, I dont know that company's can afford to miss out a certain portion of the dancing population.

Share this post


Link to post
balletbooster

- Ads posted in Dance mags, ballet schools and newspapers clearly defining the requirements for the position.

 

- Position for which the dancer is applying is clearly stated in the advertisement (i.e. trainees will pay tuition and receive a shoe allowance. Trainee contracts are for XX weeks and can be extended for one year only.)

 

- Resumes, photos, videos requested and carefully reviewed prior to the audition. Dancers notified via email/mail if the company is interested in pursuing the audition process further and given a time to come for a class.

 

- Person conducting the audition has a list of those who are coming, has familiarized him/herself with the auditionees beforehand and greets each one individually, as if he is interested in learning more about them. Makes each one feel like they have merit and have made it this far in the audition process because the company is interested in some aspect of their resume, photos, video, etc.

 

- Everyone invited to an audition gets to take the full audition. No humiliating cuts made during the process.

 

- Each auditionee gets five minutes with the auditioner afterwards to find out their results in private, rather than by having their number called (or not) during/after the audition.

 

- The auditioner gives the auditionee the one or two reasons if they were not selected for the position and thanks them for considering the company for employment.

 

- Company representatives remember that they are representing an organization, not themselves. They conduct themselves in such a way as to make those in attendance want to work for this company because it is clear that they treat people with respect, kindness and courtesy. With this in mind, companies should be carefully considering who they send out as their representative at auditions and that person should be held accountable for their behavior during the audition. (This of course means that ADs should be held accountable to a higher governing authority and not be allowed to act like a tyrant or an insensitive jerk without suffering serious consequences themselves.)

 

Yes, all of this would require more time on the part of the company and their audition rep. But, it is what is done in any other business interview from the smallest mom and pop retail establishment, to the largest corporations that I have interviewed for in the 35+ years that I've been in the marketplace looking for work, from entry level cashier to national manager. However, I think it is important to note that aside from the up front advertising costs, it does not cost the company anything more in dollars - just time. I think that the extra time expended by the company is more than offset by the time, expense and often great difficulty that these dancers must endure in order to get to a company audition.

 

For many at pre-pro schools or residencies and others who are already under company contract with contractual obligations, getting the time off on a weekend or weekday to travel to an audition is no small feat. I've been hearing from many friends this year who have had BIG problems with teachers and school directors who are not at all understanding, supportive or encouraging when dancers ask for time off to travel to auditions in order to secure a job that the school is supposed to be training them to procure. :thumbsup: But, I digress...

Share this post


Link to post
vrsfanatic

Very nice posts indeed. Please keep them coming. Great food for thought! :thumbsup:

Share this post


Link to post
ddm3
I didnt like dancing with young girls or boys that had no business being in a company audition, it sounds incredibly crass but at every cattle call I ever went to there was a distinct portion of the room that had no business being in an audition for a company. I couldnt understand how some company auditions looked just like the auditions for summer programs, in a marketplace were everything was running smoothly there would be a distinct and notable difference. I would get incredibly frustrated when I was at an audition with 70 people and no cuts were made, sometimes its important to send a clear message.

 

I agree with what you say here, Ed, but how do you weed these dancers out? I hear a lot of maturity in your voice. How does one know that they are not company ready? As parent, I would want to know if my dd would be a fit for the company before I invest my resources on an audition. But, once an appointment is made, I would like my dd to have the benefit of taking an entire class.

 

I know some students who are very weak at barre and need to get to center to show their strengths. They may want to forego those auditions where cuts are made in the very beginning.

 

Is a dancer company ready if they lack a strong barre? Are these the dancers that have no business in a company audition? I would think that these dancers would be weeded out very early on in an audition. During an audition for an SI, having a weaker barre may not have the same consequences.

 

Balletbooster - I agree with all that you have stated.

 

Interesting topic. Thank you Vrsfanatic!

Share this post


Link to post
cheetah

I don't think someone who typically doesn't get noticed at barre should be immediately ruled out for a position. I would want to see the entire package. After all, the audience doesn't pay to watch a dancer perform barre exercises. While this isn't an issue for my own dancer, I know that it is for several others. They do OK at barre but when they get to center - and dance - they really shine. (Likewise, I've seen dancers do really, really well at barre but they really don't stand out when they have to move across the floor.) If that's the way the company wants to conduct an audition - and wants to make cuts following barre - then they certainly have every right to do so. But it might save some dancers a lot of money if they knew that up front. Hence I feel the process should be communicated.

 

For those in the profession, what are your thoughts? Does a dancer who has a weak barre have little chance of succeeding in dance? Doesn't seem logical to me, but it's not my profession.

Share this post


Link to post
dazedandconfused
there was a distinct portion of the room that had no business being in an audition for a company.

 

From where we sit, I see a lot of Dinkle school teachers sending their students to auditions around here (within driving distance). I believe a lot of the fault for these poorly-trained dancers believing they're company ready and should audition lies squarely on the shoulders of their teachers who are filling their heads full of nonsense. :wub: They come home with their hopes and dreams dashed and the teacher invariably has his/her pat answers for why it "didn't happen" which seem to never include poor training provided by said teacher. Always some other reason.

 

I agree with you Ed, but I don't see how to keep this from happening. :shrug:

Share this post


Link to post
Hans

In the interest of clearing up the barre issue...

 

There are two ways one can be "weak" at the barre. Either one does not have good technique, which just about always means that dancer will not do well in the center (because bad technique is bad technique) or one is not good at "performing" at the barre. Barre exercises can expose weaknesses that are not always apparent in the center (such as less-than-ideal turnout) and they can also be very dry, leaving little room for expression. On the other hand, there are "barre dancers" who look great at the barre, either because they don't have good balance and need something to hold on to or because they have a "textbook" body but mediocre technique.

Share this post


Link to post
Momof3darlings

I don't think the audition process has to be all warm and fuzzie, I think we're asking for too much to think that it should be. I do however think it needs to be humane. There is a way to be business like and still humane.

 

I don't mind there being cuts if there is no fee. With a fee, I would love to see a full class with chosen asked to remain afterwards. Whatever method is used to accept a dancer should be used to reject a dancer. If that is a letter than send a form letter of thank you but.... If it a group sectioning off of people then a proper thank you of the group that is asked to exit.

 

Constanza brings up a good point. During audition season, there should be a contact person at the company whose job it is to answer emails and calls concerning audition questions in a prompt fashion. Simply for the ability of a struggling dancer to choose the cheapest flight available to them and secure a hotel in a safe area nearby or to say there has been no height requirements discussed this year, please come if you are interested..

 

And to help with what ED and dazed brought up. Keep SI auditions and company auditions seperate. In this day and time so many are lumped together that unfair judgements might be made about a younger or less experienced dancer in the room by those who did not know that it was an SI audition also.

Share this post


Link to post
Victoria Leigh

Totally agree about keeping SI and Co. auditions separate! This is a MUST, IMO.

 

One of the problems I see is that administrators/directors of companies are not very often parents, and it's been a while since they were struggling young dancers. I think they have forgotten what it was like, and totally forget to think of anything from the dancers point of view. They are thinking only of their company and themselves and their staff. :wub:

 

Unfortunately, the administrators of some SI programs seem to be very similar, and do not consider the students and their parents and the difficult decisions they create by putting those immediate deadlines on acceptances. It is not fair, never has been, and I don't care how many of them are now doing this, it is NOT a good practice. It puts these young teens under a lot of unnecessary stress, and the parents having to make financial decisions way before it should be needed, after all the audition results are in.

 

Okay, off of soapbox now :shrug:

Share this post


Link to post
dancemaven

DD has not yet reached this milestone, but she (and I) are learning alot vicariously via her auditioning friends. Her dad is SHOCKED at the amount of travel expenses that apparently looms in her future. I had more of an inkling, but the reports from DD's friends are that although company classes are where the offers are 'earned', the opportunities to audition outside of 'cattle calls' is sparse---at least this year. Last year, the company class route seemed to be the 'normal' audition venue.

 

So, from my (naive?) inexperienced vantage point, I would like to see the audition process modelled more along the lines of any other professional job-seeking process.

 

First, and foremost, I would like to see the Company representatives view and approach this process in a respectful, efficient, productive and professional manner---which must include a sincere and realistic statement of actual or potential job listings.

 

The 'audition season' for Companies should be co-ordinated with their contract renewal periods so that they have an actual and realistic assessment of their hiring needs for the upcoming contract year (and perhaps an appreciation for what their needs over the next few years would look like).

 

The job openings (specific as to trainee, apprentice, corps) would be advertised with qualification requirements, physical requirements, level of experience requirements, stylistic requirements (if any), prerequisites (if any).

 

There would be a specific, available person to field all questions that a candidate might have regarding those qualifications, physical requirements, experience levels, etc. The responses would be prompt and polite with an attempt to be mutually helpful to both the candidate and the Company's interests.

 

There would be further information available for the candidate to request regarding length of contract(s) available, compensation, expectations of availability, etc.

 

Interested candidates would submit whatever information (Curriculae Vitae, training history, dance resume, recommendations, video, head shot, dance photos) the Company folks would need to make initial decisions regarding the candidate's relative merits for the job opening. I would hope that the Company would take into account that some dancers don't project as well on video as they do in person (I believe Suzanne Farrell said she saw none of her own magic in her filmed performances), so hopefully no single criteria would be the all-important one.

 

There would be a deadline for the submission of the initial contact materials. The initial cuts by the Company would be made based upon the requested and submitted materials. There would be a specific date by which the applicant would be notified whether they had made the initial cut or not.

 

Then, one of two scenarios:

 

(1) The Company would invite those dancers that are of interest to it to a centrally located audition site for an audition class. NO AUDITION CLASS fee should be charged. (This is an interview, for heavens sake!! And the dancers are already bearing quite an expense for travel!). The actual format for the audition would be disclosed in the invitation (e.g., cuts during class, no cuts, etc.)

 

From this 'collective' interview, the Company Representatives would make decisions about which dancers to invite to the company studios for further evaluation (company classes over several days, personal interviews, etc). In a perfect world, the company would pick up the dancers' expenses, so obviously, they would only issue very few invitations at this level.

 

Once all the company studio visits were completed, the Company would make the appropriate contract offers and let the other finalists graciously know when the position has been filled so that they can narrow their own focus to, hopefully, greener pastures.

 

OR

 

(2) The Company would make its 'finalist' cuts at the resume/application stage and offer only those dancers it would seriously consider hiring an opportunity to make studio visits. After which, it would offer contracts and notify unsuccessful candidates that the position had been filled.

 

 

I am quite aware that most likely my proposed method would result in fewer dancers actually participating in the actual physical auditions, but I think that might be appropriate. There apparently is a glut of potential dancers and a scarcity of actual contracts. If the actual physical auditions were only open to those candidates the companies evaluated as having the initial credentials of the caliber it is seeking, then the problem of having hopelessly non-company ready dancers clogging the auditions would be solved.

 

Therefore, if a dancer submitted application after application after application without ever receiving an invitation to an audition setting, perhaps that 'handwriting on the wall' would be more readily seen---and definitely it would be a less expensive venture.

 

I would think the companies would enjoy a respite from having the hordes of dancers in the 'cattle call' auditions, especially when they didn't expect large turn-outs. Surely, it would be easier to make an assessment of whether a dancer might fit into the company if the dancers were evaluated in smaller groups.

 

 

And there is my "if I were King" view. :wub:

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×