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Auditions: Pros already employed


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I would be curious to hear from young dancers or parents as to how they approached the auditioning strategy during year (or years) of being a trainee or apprentice. If the hope is to stay at the current company - how/when did you have an indication what your chances were? How aggressively did you go out and audition pending a final decision? And how did you maximize opportunities on a tight budget??


From a parent's perspective this is a very tricky business. One could expend a lot of time and energy and money - and find out it was unnecessary - or do very little and discover non-action to have been a big, big mistake.


And then, it seems that the normal schedule requires such amazing energy .... it seems near to impossible to add those arrangements, and flights, and auditions on top of it all.


Naturally retrospectives or comments from those on the hiring side of the equation are most welcome, as well.

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I know that some of the dancers from dd's former school, who became apprentices with dance companies, went out and auditioned for other companies in the spring of their apprentice year in order to "encourage" the companies where they were apprenticing to hire them. One of them was hired as a company member by the company where she apprenticed, and one remained an apprentice for another year. So I don't know if that approach made a difference or not!


I do know that my dd's present company-affiliated school allows time for dancers to audition each spring. Her class is involved in most company performances, however, and I don't know how they handle auditions during a time when rehearsals and performances occur. I would doubt that they are able to audition during those times at all.


I would like to hear, from other parents, how involved they are in the decisions made to audition, spend money on travel and hotels, choose the location of the company, etc. What criteria do you, the parents, choose when deciding where, how much money, and how long to support the process?

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busymom, I will remark on your last paragraph. I had very little to do with where my daughter chose to audition last year. Her self assessment and her teachers' assessment of the type of companies where she had the best chance of success (best match for her as a dancer) were one and the same - so they rattled off companies they were aware of; she researched on the net, and talked with friends, and reviewed a book of companies at the studio office, and plotted it all out as best she could. I think she did between 8 - 12. If time and money were no object, certainly there were many more she was potentially interested in and would have traveled to. Sometimes her academy schedule and responsiblities were the main factor as to what times were and were not possible, and that drove the decisions. She would try to lump two into a location. She often selected the sites by where she had a free place to stay with friends - but if that place is New York City - I wouldn't recommend you follow that example.


There was very little inside knowledge as to who was hiring and who was not. As some of the teachers here have posted in earlier threads, while they all were gracious in checking in with good contacts where they had them - they could not be expected to know the directors of ALL these regional companies across the country! Generally, even with direct contact (daughter to whomever was listed as the contact person on website, etc) companies would not give info as to whether they really had openings .. and then even with whatever was heard - it's hard to know in advance whether it was worth going to be seen, might there be an apprenticeship, etc. ..... On the other hand it became clear that some were only holding auditions because of union or other requirements.


She was not living at home, so she took a little time to figure out the ropes and work up the nerve, and then just dug in with a vengeance making airplane and all other arrangements. I had arranged for a credit card in advance -- my account where she had her own card, as that is the only way to go these days with last minute reservations. We went as deep as we could stand it last year. And will not be able to go nearly as deep this year..... So, it would be a grand and delightful blessing if we did not have to.


She really took it to the limits of her physical energy. Towards the end, she knocked one off of her list just before making the plane reservation because she was on the edge of the meltdown ..... And part of the whole "problem" is you never know at all which one is THE one. -- So that's a touch of our experience from last year. :)

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Does your daughter feel comfortable enough with anyone in the company who had done the apprenticeship route to ask when and how the decision was made for who would be hired from the apprentice ranks? Companies my kids have been affiliated with have notified the trainees/apprentices during the audition season who they recommend do auditions. The companies even gave them time to get to auditions. Some even try to help by contacting other company directors to recommend their dancers who will not have a spot the next year. Finding out the company's history should be helpful.

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  • 1 year later...

Not sure if this is the right place for this topic so feel free to move!!


I am in my second year with a professional ballet company and while I have had great experiences and opportunites I just dont know if this company is a good fit for me. I am contemplating options for next year but with the schedule my current company has for the remainder of the season it will be very difficult for me to find time to audition elsewhere. I am considering a move to NYC where I could study and try to find work freelancing with different companies in the area. Does anyone have any experience doing this? Am I dumb to leave a more stable position to do this? I know I still want to be a ballet dancer but I just don't know where!! I am also 23...do you think I am to old to be messing around like this? :yes: HELP!!

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Yeah I have thought of this, however I was just considering the NYC freelancing idea as an option and wondered what was out there. It might give me a year to gain some good experience and prepare me to audition again the following year. Or I could try to video idea but I assumed that either way they would need to see me in person. Or I could just stay where I am!!! ahhh...decisions!! :jawdrop:

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syr - thank you so much for starting this thread - it is of particular interest to me as we are in the same boat this year - dd is an apprentice and is in the "waiting to find out" stage whether or not she will be hired into the company. It is the consuming topic of conversation when we speak on the phone!


Her AD had meetings with all the dancers before their holiday break (which he was contractually bound to do). Also, because of the union contract, he is unable to tell the apprentices whether they will be hired until he knows if he has space. (he is able to tell them if he won't hire them - so, since my dd didn't hear that... at least we have that to go on!!!).


As she is currently in rehearsal for the spring rep - there is precious little time (and, I might add, money) to audition. Her AD recommended auditioning, which is has done for all the apprentices and which he did for the apprentices last year as well. At her company, there is no option for being an apprentice for a second year.


After reading through the fine print in her contract, I find that she must be told by March 1st her status for the next year... however, last year, a dancer was told that she would not be offered a contract and then received one in late May (after traveling all over the place auditioning... what an expense that must have been - for nothing...).


My dd keeps careful track of who she knows will be leaving (hehe!) and just yesterday found out about another corps member who has informed the company that she will not be returning - good news for sure!


Our decision is that she will attend one audition in February that she is able to get to without too much fuss and money and then wait it out - mostly because of her performance schedule, she doesn't have any other free time until mid-March. Hopefully, by then she will know... additionally, I don't think auditioning to "encourage" your current company to keep you is all that wise. I would think it would send an opposite message - that you weren't necessarily happy with your current situation. I think that is pretty smug behavior on the part of the dancer.


To answer busymomof5 - we are VERY involved in where she auditions - last year too. Our criteria included ease of travel to the particular venue (avoiding NYC at all costs...) - realistic chances at a particular company (which actually was determined by my dd with teacher input) - $$$$$ - and also, who would travel with her. Often, I would meet up with her so she wouldn't be alone, but she traveled with other dancers at her residency as well. She was givin time off to attend auditions last year but this year, as an apprentice, she must fit in auditions on her days off.


She has questioned other company dancers on how they dealt with this stressful time and has concluded that our plan is a similar one to their own process. We can only hope that it all works out and she has a place of employment for next year.


Parents of other professionals (and professional dancers, too) - please sound off and let us know how you dealt with all this uncertainty... I thought last year was stressfull... this is nuts!

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ABT and City Ballet are tough to compete with. There's a few small chamber groups and companies, but none that I know of sustain full seasons of repertory. Mostly the type of gig where you'd do 5 or 6 shows over two weekends. This might be fine for you for a year. I don't know what you'd be satisfied with. It's competitive to get these jobs, but I'm sure you're aware of the depth of talent in a place like NYC.


Here's some smaller companies that I know of offhand.








New Jersey Ballet may be of interest too.


If you'd be fine with concentrating on your training for a year in New York, it's a great place to do it. I wouldn't count on getting enough dance jobs to sustain a living. You'd probably need to make money some other way.


I'm starting my second season as an apprentice in a regional ballet company. I like to go to New York to work on my technical training between seasons, but the experience of working full time in a company with long, full seasons is very important to my development. I wouldn't be getting what I need at this point in my career (just starting out) just by taking classes and doing intermittant performing.


But you may be at a totally different place with a few seasons under your belt, and you're clearly doubting that the company you're with is benefitting you. It's a tough choice to make. But you'll do good to follow your instinct. Something usually happens when you're brave enough to take a leap.

Good luck!

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Another thing to keep in mind is that New York is chock-full of freelance dancers, although as you are currently employed, that might help you stand out.

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  • 6 years later...

If a dancer begins their career with a small regional company, are they allowed to continue to audition for larger companies during the season?


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The auditions for most companies are held in the spring. What seems to happen in most places as I understand it, is that trainees/second company/apprentices have some sort of formal review in the early spring. Here they are told if they will be asked to stay for another year or promoted. At this point, they are still under contract/obligation with their current company, but they may choose to audition for other companies for the following season.

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Queenie, in my understanding it's often a don't ask/don't tell situation. The reality is that many dancers are not happy or are fairly sure that WHEN the review happens, the current contract will not continue, so they go out and audition without formally notifying the AD or others. I have never heard of a contract that forbade outside auditions, but I am sure some exist. Similarly, I have never heard of a company audition that denied a dancer the right to participate because s/he was still under contract to someone else, but that too may happen.


It's an awkward situation, in many companies, but a lot of dancers and ADs deal with it annually

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A better choice of wording besides are they "allowed to" is "should they". Since you mentioned "starting their career with a small regional company", then I'm assuming your DK has an actual contract with the company (Apprentice or Corp and occasionally 2nd company) and not the school (Trainee and sometimes 2nd company). The timing of information is a bit different depending on which of those situations you're under.


In the case of Trainees, usually auditioning is encouraged because the director's know that they cannot use all the students. This encouragement though doesn't mean that they give any sort of leeway for it, which then can turn into sometimes an almost impossibility. Thus the horror stories you hear of dancers not taken for the next year but who also were not allowed any time to audition. Ick! The timing for Trainees is sometimes along the line of what Ceecee has described but can also be a bit later if the situation is an open contract with the company.


For company members, the timing can also be a bit different. (as can the actual offer of a contract to a Trainee into the company) Every company is different in that regard. With economic changes, ADs have become very careful about making promises in the reviews that the later budget talks can't back up. But for most, reviews may happen earlier in a company and then actual contract notification comes later after budgets are set. This sometimes means the actual contract is not in hand until late March/April at which point, the dancer should have already been fully vested in auditioning.


You'll find that it will run the full course of everything from a "don't ask, don't tell" situation, to contractually having a couple of days where you cannot be penalized for auditioning written into the contract. Your DK will have to speak to their co-workers closer to audition season and after she/he has found a few friendly comrades to find out how to best handle it in their given situation.


In short, if the dancer wants to be in a larger company, then there will be no way to do that except to still audition. So your dancers will have to find a way to make their goals happen for themselves. How they can make that happen will be different from company to company. And how much time they will have to do that will also depend on schedules, seasons and finding the correct timing.

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Tricky is an understatement! It's important not to burn bridges but it's also important to manage one's career based on your goals, not the AD's goals.


One common theme that dd has seen in her young career is when a graduating student has signed a contract with a company in the top level of their school (as apprentice or trainee or whatever) but is subsequently offered a company contract by another AD. (Many times, the AD has seen the student in an earlier audition, an audition scheduled before the contract was signed or when observing class.) The student then contacts the AD of the signed contract and explains the situation and asks to be released of the responsibility in order to take a full company position. This gives the AD the chance to re-evaluate the student dancer for a company contract in addition to showing respect for the AD while continuing to manage the career. It's not a fun conversation but sometimes necessary. DD has also seen company dancers who have signed contracts for the next year and are subsequently offered a contract in a bigger company or at a higher rank who speak with the AD and are released. I really think an AD will not want to keep a dancer just because a contract has been signed when the dancer wants to move on. Again, not a fun conversation, but necessary and the reasons should be that the dancer is simply managing their career with an opportunity that cannot be found in the current situation. It helps is the dancer has a good relationship with the AD and the AD is a person who is interested in developing young dancers as a general principal.

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