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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Auditions: The Dream Company Audition


vrsfanatic

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I really do NOT think that utilizing good business practices is the same as being warm and fuzzy. I've been to many interviews where I was made to feel that my skills had been evaluated and were of interest to those I was interviewing with. That doesn't mean that all of those interviewers were 'warm and fuzzy' sorts. In most cases they were very business-like, but they did understand the value in letting me know that they knew who I was, had reviewed my file and were interested in knowing more about me. By doing that, they made me feel like my interview was not a waste of my time. I felt like I was being given a fair shot at the job, as I had been 'pre-screened' and found to meet the basic criteria that they were looking for.

 

I also think that it is not unreasonable to expect that dancers will be given a brief explanation of why they were not selected. In light of the fact that they often travel great distances, at great expense and inconvenience, it seems reasonable for everyone to get a couple of minutes of the adjudicator's time, one-on-one. As has been noted before, everyone in a business interview gets their few minutes of time with the decision maker. Even if you are applying for a low paying, low skill job, you are not interviewed in a group. You get a chance to talk to the manager and if you don't meet their criteria (whatever that is) they will tell you then or send you a letter stating this later.

 

I think we accept that jobs in the arts do not need to follow these basic rules of business decorum, simply because they never have. That doesn't mean they should or that they can't or that it is unreasonable to expect them to. It just means that they never have and we have all learned to accept this as 'the way things are.' :wub:

 

Perhaps a better pre-screening process is really the answer, meaning that there would really be no cattle call auditions allowed. Everyone who comes to an audition has been pre-reviewed and everyone is within the height/body type/gender/etc. criteria that the company is looking for. A quick review of their video could exclude those who do not shine at the barre or cannot perform in the center. Those whose dance style does not match the AD's vision would also be excluded by this review. This means fewer people in an audition and thus, fewer people to meet with one-on-one afterwards.

 

This is really not rocket science. All of this is 'do-able' and realistic. It is done everyday in businesses both big and small all across the country. Businesses are very careful about what they place in their employment ads and in their open requisitions posted on their company websites, so that they can avoid lots of the problems that dancers face every time they go to an audition. Businesses are highly regulated and they have to follow all sorts of government laws and policies. The arts manage to fly under this radar in most cases that do not involve unions and even then, there is much that is not regulated about their hiring practices. While those who are caught in the cross hairs of this process scream about the injustice, there are many who have made it through to gainful employment and are now in the power positions who seem to have little empathy for those on the other side and view it all as a right of passage. :shrug:

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

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.

 

Getting back to the barre issue... I don't understand what you mean, unless you are being a bit sarcastic. My dd has a really great barre, IMHO but has neither a texbook body or mediocre technique. She is also able to be quite expressive. She has only a handful of company auditions under her belt, but fortunately has never been cut from an audition. I think it is important to have a very strong audition all the way through if you hope to get a job nowadays!

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ddm-I'm not sure what Hans meant. But when I spoke of a barre dancer, there is a studio near me that is known for this. If you walked in and watched barre you would be impressed. However, something happens when they go center especially if pointe shoes are on. I have often wondered if it was a teaching flaw since it is collective of the entire class--possibly relying on the barre too much? But that is where my question came from, could these dancers pass the barre portion of a company audition and then plummet in center taking the space of a dancer who had an okay barre but was LOVELY in center.

 

You certainly must present the total package to get through to the end and to the job.

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I would not expect rejection letters or personal consultations for those who are not chosen from cattle calls - there are just too many in attendance. The company could not afford the time or the postage. Frankly even giving out a receipt for fees might lengthen the registration period considerably. I don't think audition fees are fair, but when 100 people show up for an audition I agree that cuts are necessary.

 

I do think it is great when a date is given at the audition, by which the dancer will hear affirmatively. Last year my daughter was in a situation where a "maybe" letter was sent indicating interest and the decisions would be made by a certain date. Date came and went, called company, company still had not made up it's mind, still interested, and then very late in the spring, called company again, left message, and received a very brief rejection letter in the mail. Fortunately another offer was in the works from another company, but she was turned off by the first one.

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As echoed by previous posters, if I have to pay for class, then I want to take all of it. Also, being told up front who and what they are hiring, and if a paid position is being offered, what that pay scale is- nothing like being told you have a job only to find out you will be paid next to nothing or by the performance :angry: Ed, totally with you on those not ready for auditions....perhaps a pre-screening process would help to eliminate that, which actually, a lot of places will ask you to send your photos, resume, etc. before they decide to ask you to take class. You can actually tell a lot from a resume...I've been "helping" by looking at some for people who were auditioning for my company....predicted whether they were at the company level or not, and when these people actually showed, up, I was pretty spot on!!! Anyways, back to the topic at hand....perhaps after attending a cattle call, the opportunity to take company class, interview, etc. But like vrsfanatic stated, these are all "dreams" - we live and work in an art that is an autocracy.

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dnznqueen, these may all be dreams, but everyone is being so helpful and articulate it is a very constructive thread. It is interesting to hear from dancers and the parents alike. Very interesting that the dancer's "dreams" seem to be along the same line and the parent's concerns seem to be unilateral also. This is wonderful material! :angry:

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And since we're dreaming, and perhaps a little levity is in order...

I thought if we're talking about an ideal, how about job fair style?

 

1. Companies within a region advertise.

2. Dancers submit resumes to the participating companies in which they are interested.

3. Companies make their cuts and invite the selected ones to a class at a large, well-lighted, well-ventilated studio with a sprung marley floor.

4. Well-known ballet master from neutral company conducts a "company" class (or several over a weekend, depending on numbers).

5. NO AUDITION FEE! All who are invited take the whole class.

6. Dancers entertain multiple offers and choose the company that fits them best. :angry:

 

Well, it WAS the "The Dream Professional Company Audition" thread wasn't it?

 

Now back to our more constructive ideas!

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A nice dream would be to do away with the "You're invited to our SI to be evaluated for a ____position" offer. It's hard enough to get to the auditions, and even harder to get together the SI money after all the auditions are over. After spending that money, no one wants to be told "thanks, but no thanks" at the end of the summer.

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My first comment is my own opinion. My second comment is my daughter's opinion as an experienced auditioning dancer.

 

1. Companies should NOT charge a fee for a professional audition. Period. It should be the company's cost of doing business expense.

 

Therefore...

 

2. If the audition space is crowded, company should make cuts after barre. If the audition space allows, company should wait till after audagio before making cuts.

 

My daughter strongly felt that nobody could do their best in a crowded room. Since ballet dancers will not need that experience - trying to dance jammed up against each other - onstage, there's no merit to having them risk injuries at an audition.

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ddm3, I was referring to dancers who look good only at the barre and not so good in center. It is great to be good at barre work, but as there is generally not a barre onstage, one must be able to back that up with good center work as well. Often, the type of dancer who only does well at the barre is produced by a teacher who doesn't dare (or perhaps bother) to teach anything outside a very strict "set" syllabus, so they look fine when doing dry exercises, but when center comes and they have to actually move, that's when they tend to have problems. Of course none of this is absolute, 100% fact in every case as situations vary, but often it does happen that way.

 

(By the way, I'm not trying to impugn your daugher's dancing, as I have never seen her :) but I'm sure she looks lovely in the center as well as at barre. :angry: )

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I would wish for the dancers that any extra paper work to be filled in at the audition site be available on line to avoid the scramble for a pen and the tense phone calls trying to verify spelling or exact dates.

 

I would also wish that if the auditioner knows outright that they are not interested in some dancers, just, please, return the photos! They are of no interest to you, and could save me lots of money!

 

It would also help if the content of the audition was briefly described. Will the dancers be given barre, or will that be skipped, so that the dancer should be completely warmed up before even beginning the audition. Also note if the dancer is expected to be warm, is there room provided at the facility so the dancers can give themselves a barre.

 

If notification is so time consuming, what if the dancer addressed and placed a stamp on an envelope or post card, perhaps then the auditioner could just place those cards of those eliminated directly in a postal drop box.

 

If wishes were horses, then beggers would ride.... :angry:

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Hans, I now understand what you are saying and I agree with you. I would hope that one does not have to do a near perfect, or mechanical barre, in order to make it past that stage if there is to be an elimination at an audition. Last year when my daughter auditioned I think most would say that her barre was very good and based upon her level of technique at the barre, it is pretty evident that she has had solid training. She had some minor issues with her placement which have been much improved this past year. In any event, I believe her barre work was strong enough to pass muster last year. I don't think an auditioner can weed out those who might not be as strong in the center without seeing the dancer once barres have been removed. So, it seems to everyone's advantage to have very strong skills at the barre. If one is a mess at the barre, it is pretty indicative of poor training all around. I think that generally those who are great in the center are pretty good at the barre also. Sometimes a dancer has a great barre but lack equivalent abilities in the center because they simply need more training. Okay, well enough said about this topic! It is time to let go of the barre and move back to the main topic.

 

I think it would be helpful if the companies could be more specific about the dancer they are looking to hire, ie 5'6" brunette with brown eyes or 5'3" with blond hair and green eyes. This would be similar to a casting call for an acting job! It sure would make life a little easier! :angry:

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beckyb has just described what Regional Dance America started out doing and accomplishing. It has been lost in the shuffle in recent years because director's don't show up in large groups like they used to and generally only trainee offers are extended if that.

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The dream professional company auditioner would notice that when 100+ dancers show up for an audition, that he/she would give 2 auditions with 50 dancers in each class so each dancer can be given a thorough evaluation complete with full barre, no cuts, long center to see who moves well and rep work taught to see how the company choreography looks on them.

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I agree with a lot of what is said about the number of people showing up for an audition that were not prepared. My son told me of an audition a week ago that one kid was so out of it that he would stand 10 feet out from the back of the wall and was actually in the way of the dancers in the center. Since my son was in his group he actually went up to the kid took him by the arm and pulled him out of the way before someone crashed into him potentially injuring the other dancer as well as the kid who was standing in the middle of the floor gazing out into space. This was a men only audition with only 16 men so there was plenty of room against the back wall.

 

I think in horror of the dollars that we have spent sending him to auditions only to have him get there and after barre or center they divide the men into 2 groups those over 5'11" and those not. All of those under 5'11" please leave. Yikes, just say that and the dancer doesn't spend $300 - $400 getting there and staying in a hotel because class is at 10 am and you can't arrange flights to get in and out in one day.

 

He did have one really good experience where there was so many dancers that the director divided the audition in to 2 classes. Taught 2 full classes with feedback, gave corrections, talked about the positions that they had open and what they were looking for from their dancers and spent some energy putting everyone at ease so they could do their best. This director even talked about the audition process going both ways for the dancer and the director. He spent time joking and talking and giving feedback so he could watch how the dancers handled the personal interaction and how they would possibly fit in with the company. I think this is as close to a perfect audition as you can get. I don't remember but I don't think there was a fee to audition.

 

This was about 2 years ago and was actually a union company with a big name.

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