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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Companies: Body types


ddm

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Can anyone help me put together a list of companies whose dancers do not fit what is typically thought of as the "ballet dancers body"? Perhaps there is a thread on this that I have not been able to find. If so can someone direct me there? Thank you.

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I think the best thing is to take a look at a company's website and look at the picture galleries.

 

The basic rule though, is going to simply be that dancers want to perform, and they will be drawn to companies that have larger budgets and therefore, many more opportunities to perform. Ergo, those companies have more choices as far as who they can hire.

 

Dancers in any company however, must be fit and healthy, or they will not be able to withstand the daily rigorous routine.

 

Within any company, I think you will see a variety of body types, to some degree or another, and some companies more than others.

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And remember, "company body types" can change like the weather. Nowhere in a company's organization documents (constitution, bylaws, charter) is it written, "our dancers will be short" or "...tall".

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That is very true, Mel. But there seems to be some "unwritten rules" concerning the types tof bodies that certain companies, as well as SI's, look for. When looking at companies it has been frequently mentioned to look at the types of bodies. Even in speaking with instructors/teachers for direction as to which companies may be a good match physicalities and talent are considered.

 

Yes, a dancer who catches the eye of the right person might be brought into the comany but I think that would be the exception rather than the rule. If the dancer doesn't fit with the rest of the ensemble they will stand out like a sore thumb.

 

Looking at pictures is helpful but you certainly can't tell how tall or short people are. (And do cameras still add ten pounds?)

 

This is not a commentary on what body types are best for dance but a question to make an already difficult search a little easier.

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"(Il Maestro) é mobile, qual' pium' al vento...."

 

Only in horse races do the odds change more rapidly than in what a school or company "likes" from year to year.

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Don't know if this will interest or not. But I read an interesting article posted on yesterday's Links on the Ballet Talk side addressing the issues of the supermodels and "too skinny" having some impact on ballet. Would post the link but as I'm not sure if this would be the appropriate place or not, I hesitate. Article came from an Australian newspaper.

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I hear you ddm, but as Major Mel said, what a company needs for the upcoming season with regards to Rep, and which dancers decide to move on or retire, will determine who they hire.

 

Basically, look towards the smaller regional ballet companies. But even that isn't a rule. There are some current pros with the BIG companies who might not fit the "Super-ballerina" stereotype.

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I can't give you a list, but I would say to look at the corps unless the dancer is so extraordinary that body type doesn't matter. Soloists and principal dancers often break the mold because of some other quality they possess, and many have come to the company as proven stars already. Such dancers are often not hired because of their ability to blend into a corps, but for their ability to stand out. One often sees a soloist of a larger company moving into a principal position at a smaller company as the years go by. But the corps is hired in general based on similarities of type with the potential to grow into solo roles.

 

While I agree with Major Mel and Clara 76 that companies change type, it doesn't happen overnight, even when a new director comes sweeping in. It takes at least one contract year. :shrug: Also, when one, during the investigative phase, has limited financial resources (for travel) that need to be targeted towards the places with the best possible chances, checking out current trends within individual companies is a wise venture.

 

I think that company audition information is the most dependable information short of actually attending performances of each company :D (Wouldn't that be a lovely treat, though, if we could all afford it?) Word of mouth can be faulty or based on older info.

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:shrug: I had an eye-opening discussion yesterday with an old ballet friend who is now working for a medium-sized company . It was quite interesting as the company was trying to "even things out" height-wise for the upcoming year, so dancers over or under certain heights were politely thanked but told please don't come to the audition. This honesty was blunt, but probably spared dancers expensive costs to attend the audition. This change was also due to loss of specific dancers, height of current principals, etc. Also, was told that AD wanted dancers with endurance and very good classical technique. Not so much on body type, but this is not a "graded" company, there is really no corps to speak of. Also, even though they were holding auditions, they were also in negotiations with dancers that they wanted to bring on board. As a newbie parent to the "company" audition curcuit it was a very good conversation.
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From what I remember when my own kiddo was going through the audition process, she and all her friends SO appreciated it when they knew height restrictions in advance. She never thought of it as blunt honesty as much as factual information. :shrug:

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I think that company audition information is the most dependable information

(Hope the quote works. Never did that before!)

 

As far as the company audition information I know it will specify height requirements but are there other things to look for too?

 

The information provided has been very helpful and gives us some new things to think about.

 

(Next reply I'll try smilies!)

 

 

*moderator fixed quote for you. Just highlight the phrase then click the wrap in quote link on your page you're writing in and it should work for you.

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  • 1 year later...

Some companys are VERY strict about body type, such as length of legs, etc. Also some pre-pro schools are too, the ones where kids feed directly into major companies. I've had personal experience with this. And, of course, we all wish it wasn't like this, but, unfortunately, it is :( the way of the ballet world!

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  • 4 months later...

Well I will say one thing. Alabama Ballet has such a range of height and weight. The dancers may not have perfect bodies, but they are all super toned. The director is all about looking good for your height and I think that is how it should be. They have a dancer who is 5'8" and another dancer who is 4'10" so they are pretty forgiving about height. Most companies want dancers who look like dancers.

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Alabama has a published height of 5'7" maximum for women. From what I was told, Tracey Alvey has brought in a few taller girls but none that exceed the 5'7" mark.

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Corps dancers need to be interchangeable, alas. If dancers were to have a wide variety of heights and sizes, costuming and partnering would be difficult.

 

Sometimes dancers have 5 minutes to jump into a Costume and get on stage. If a 6'0 dancer was to take the place of a shorter dancer, things would get interesting. :wub: Companies don't have the budget for multiple sets of costumes.

 

Cheers,

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