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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Auditions: The Dream Company Audition


vrsfanatic

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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.

OK--I have a potentially naive question--how often do companies have a very precise mental picture of who they want and how often do they have a body type or height in mind and are they waiting to see what kind of talent shows up? :P

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I think they know before the auditions exactly who and what they are looking for...but IF they put that info out in the open then they would severely limit the $$$ from the masses!!

Maybe I am being cynical, but I doubt it!! :P

cmtaka...your DS experience at that auditon sounds amazing...is it too late to turn my DD into a DS?? just kidding...maybe :thumbsup:

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Many have a general idea of height based on how they stairstep their corp and where a spot is needing to be covered. Alot of times the height has to do with the guys moreso than the girls. If the current guys are taller they will be looking for taller girls. There is always a margin of error, but generally they do know. In this day and time, I don't think hair color plays into the equation as much. You can change that in about 10 minutes these days. :P

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Usually dancers are going to have to slot into the current repertoire - so yes, they have to be the right size to blend in with the other dancers, and be able to wear the existing costumes! Everyone has to watch their expenses, so companies are unlikely to want to make new costumes, the existing ones have to be used. So yes I agree companies should be up front if they are looking for particular heights.

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cmtaka, I would be curious as to what company auditions your son did where they asked the dancers shorter than 5'11" to leave and what company if you can remember that did that perfect audition 2 years ago. It would be very enlightening to the parents that read this board.

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My DD is fairly new to this, with only 7 company auditions under her belt, with only 2 being "cattle calls", but I would like to commend two companies - one a larger TX company which gave an excellent audition by clearly stating what they were looking for before the audition (not height, weight, coloring, but more like skill level, age, training), giving the option of retrieving photographs following the audition, having a discussion of the company goals and expectations afterwards for those dancers who wanted to stay and listen, and just plain being respectful and polite towards all the dancers auditioning. The second commended company, a smaller Kentucky company, had pre-registration, five possible days on which dancers could take company class, the opportunity to take more than one class should space allow, clear written information about the company and its plans for the coming year, and a brief discussion about the company and its needs following the audition classes. Some of the "wishes" in this discussion are already being fulfilled by some companies. Kudos to them!

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My remarks were meant to be a little facetious regarding the "look" of a dancer, but in actuality I think there may be some truth to this. I my opinion, and as Ed has also mentioned, it is very important to do the research about the company you plan to audition for. You should know something if not everything about the A.D., the company's rep, etc, but go one step further and take a look at the company. If you can see them in action that would be best. I think that if a director has to make a choice between dancer A and dancer B, with all things being pretty equal with regard to ability/talent, then he/she will either flip a coin or perhaps they will select the dancer who has the right look. The "right look" might be the dancer who blends in most with the existing dancers. So, if you plan to audition for a company of brunettes and you are a blond, it might be prudent to die your hair, as momof3darlings mentioned prior to the audition!

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Oh I didn't mean go dye your hair, just that director's should be smart enough to know that in 10 minutes a dancer can have whatever hair they want these days.

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For at least two reasons, I think that it would be imprudent of a company to describe the look (as in hair color, etc.) that they want. Regardless, I'm not sure most companies pay that much attention to it, especially when all too often they are really only looking to add to their trainee or apprentice levels.

 

One big reason I think it would be wrong has to do with dancers of color. It seems to me that companies that are truly looking for an identical match to their corps would end up not even glancing at many people of color. That would be a very bad thing. I believe strongly that American companies need to open their doors more to female dancers, especially black women. Because men are in such demand, race plays less of a part in their ability to be hired.

 

I also think that a company might believe they're looking for a certain color hair or race or height or body shape, but then they see a dancer who has none of those requirements but who has some really special dancing quality and that's the person they suddenly want.

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Good point vagansmom, seeing my DD show up at an audition with blue eyes and blonde hair would be a nightmare in the making. :yes: And would rule her out of every position she's ever been considered for without even a plie in 1st.

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Ed suggested that a company class was the best road to go. Well, would you please let me know how you get to do company class? We have asked if we can have girls do a company class audition for our local company and have been denied the priviledge! Some dancers are allowed and others are not. Girls from out of town get to do class but they seem to pick at random who can and who can't! It is frustrating! Can we as parents try and set this up or is it up to the teachers to call and sell their students. We know of a teacher at a lovely school in another state who prides herself on getting girls into company class and these kids get placements each and every time. A teacher I know of in another state has got kids company class with huge companies and I do mean huge companies world wide, the Royal Ballet for one. There are big school placements and even jobs offers following! Are we just with teachers who want to feel powerful and withold their approval. Our children are in the middle of this rat race for a job, any feedback will help. The cattle call auditions are really difficult as one and all knows!

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My daughter would not be able to dye her hair either. She has a very distinctive look, if you will, that would look reallly strange if she attempted to alter her natural coloration. What I was really trying to point out here is that it can be very helpful to do the research on the companies one would like to audition for. Knowing ahead of time, if you are a good fit for the company, whether it has to do with height, body type, level or type of training, etc. is helpful when making your list of companies to go for! The more you know, the better.

 

Pasdetrois, my daughter has taken company class which was arranged by a former teacher and former A.D. of a well regarded company, but not one from her studio where she trained. It might work out better if a teacher calls to arrange for company class, but I have had success contacting companies directly. If your daughter's regular teachers are not successful in this arena think of others you know who might be willing to help out. Oftentimes, you need to submit a packet ahead of time to be granted a company class if they are interested. The packet would include, photos, resume and performance footage.

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Pasdetrois, the dancers my DD knows who have been issued invitations for company classes did, indeed, submit 'screening' materials (photos, resumes, videos, etc). I am not sure whether the dancers made those initial contacts and submissions on their own or with the help of mentors, teachers, dancer contacts, or school ADs. I think there were some of each, actually. Not everyone who submitted materials was offered company class opportunities in every instance. Various and different companies were involved, so it has provided her with abit of a good view into the audition process.

 

She and I can only deduce from these experiences that these companies probably make an initial cut based upon the submitted materials----much like a prospective employer in the business world offers personal interviews on the basis of submitted resumes and cover letters. Not everyone who sends in a resume actually gets called in for an interview.

 

I do not see anything sinister or unfair about a selection process such as that. In fact, at least at this point, I tend to think it is a good way to go (certainly doesn't involve travel expenses that may be of no use!) I do, however, think it emphasizes that getting a foot in the door of the dance world, much like the business world, is made at least a little easier if there is a network that can be called upon and put to work for the dancer. It is not impossible to do it without such a network, but it sure makes it easier with one. The applicant who has someone who will recommend or vouch for her talents and suitability that the prospective employer knows and respects will be the applicant whose resume gets pulled out of the stack of 15-20 resumes of equally qualified applicants for a second look.

 

That's how it works in a business setting and I don't see any reason that it wouldn't be the same in the dance setting. If there is no one to help put in a word, the person's resume must have something that really stands out and catches the reviewer's eye. Of course, the 'word' from someone trusted only gets the applicant in the door for the interview; after that, the applicant must bring the goods herself!

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Some companies will only allow professional dancers to take company class. Others (union companies do this, not sure if it's all or just some of them) require the company members permission before a person can take company class.

 

AFter all, it IS the company's time to pay attention to their own technique. They don't need to have young dancer after young dancer streaming in for audition via company class. That's why some only require professional dancers to take them.

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Vagansmom is correct in her assessment of company class audition protocol. To add to that, most companies do not and should not crowd the company members to allow for company class auditions, therefore you're talking only 1-4 visitors per class dependant on space on the days they are allowed. As well, they are generally not scheduled on the days 2nd company or trainees take company class which means we're down to 3 days a week maybe even being available for visitors. Then add the factor of the correct people to "see you" being in the building at that day and time: AD, Balletmaster and possibly resident choregrapher making a judgement then you're down to 2 days of availability a week. Eliminate show weeks and there are not as many company class audition slots as we would like to believe.

 

It would be good for a company though to include a brief thank you to those who sent in packets for company class audition requests with a statement that helps determine where to go from here. Remember, many of those who get nos to company class invites will still go to the cattle call when the denial of class time doesn't specify a reason. (for instance, one no to company class received last year stated that the director wanted to see all eligible dancers in the same room on the same day and hoped we could make the scheduled audition which we could not. But at least the picture was clear!) If the no, for the company class invite is simply no space then it should say that so that you know to bust a gut to get to the cattle call. But if it is a no way, then there is a way to say that gracefully so a dancer understands "you're not what we need this year" save the flight to company class as well.

 

Since we're on the topic of the dream scenario, in sending out packets, it would be a dream that all packets receive some sort of notification in a timely fashion. In looking back over last year's video sentouts, we sent 15 in Jan/Feb. We got 10 very quick acknowledgements one way or the other, we got 2 very late acknowledgements with nothing prior (late May no space letters), we still to this day have not heard from 3. The question becomes for those 3: do they not accept videos?, did they not get it?, was she not the package needed but they just don't tell you that? So the recommendation from that is do delivery tracking at least.

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