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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Auditions: The Dream Company Audition


vrsfanatic

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dancemaven's post regarding " I do, however, think it's important etc....,but it sure makes it easier with one" (sorry can't figure out how to quote) :o resonates with me!! My "dream" is that EVERY dancer who graduates from a pre-pro program would have a teacher/staff member from said program advocating on their behalf!! Isn't that what we parents have paid tuiton all these years for??? Doesn't every student deserve this, not just the chosen 1 or 2?? :shrug: I would like to dream that a level playing field exists for all...but then I awake from the dream and back into the nightmare of doing this journey alone...Some day I will figure out how to deliver a sort of "central casting" for the dance world where dancer's and companies "shop" without the hassle and spending/wasting of cash and time...for not! There has to be a better way :P

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Oh, doing it all alone is SOOOO tough. My Dd's advocate/teacher passed away unexpectedly last summer, with his plans and contacts for her unwritten. They were so looking forward to this spring and auditions and classes, and for her, without him, it has been very, very hard. She has other wonderful teachers, but it's just not the same. Before each audition or company class, she has a Clark "moment", and blinks back tears. Watching her square those little shoulders and march bravely into unknown territory brings a giant lump to my throat every time. For this academic nondancer mom - trying to unlock the "code" of the ballet world is a constant frustration. I know how to get you into Harvard, but get you into a company class?! Hah!

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I've strattled the worlds of professional dance and corporate/creative web production. It works similarly in both worlds although they require somewhat different skill/mind sets.

 

In both cases, hiring decision have been made 90% on contacts/*and*demonstration of skill/ability to improve. Some positions are based on skill alone. It really helps in all cases to perservere and make use of your contacts.

 

I've also learned (on both sides of the coin), that if one does get a personal recomendation and an offer, it's beneficial to everyone to do your best.

 

It's a difficult profession, and I completely sympathise. All I can recommend is to take head shots/ etc with a digital camera and print at home on nice paper. Sounds silly, but I think that's all a beginning pro needs. Any dancer can show thier beauty/potential with a simple photo. You should be able to :rolleyes: Seriously, I don't get the need for a huge expense with head shots and resume until you're a full company member and artist somewhere.

 

I think cattle calls are largely a waste, unless you're totally amazing, or have the means to do it. Then again...ya never know.....

 

Arghhh, wish it wasn't such a crap shoot. But it is :)

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Some day I will figure out how to deliver a sort of "central casting" for the dance world where dancer's and companies "shop" without the hassle and spending/wasting of cash and time

 

Up until last year, I believe the Monaco Dance Dorum attempted to do such a thing...

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Company culture is really important too. Sometimes, a strong dancer in classes isn't going to be able to do thier job (for a variety of reasons) in a company setting. I think that's why politics and contacts *seem* to take a more important role than we'd like. Company life is difficult. It's hard to explain, but i *can* understand why an AD would be somewhat reluctant to hire based on performance in a ballet class alone.

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I recently went to an AMAZING audition! It was an audition for the trainee program in a ballet company. The way they dealt with the dancers was outstanding.

 

This is how it went:

 

The first audition was a video tape of required exercises accompanied by a head shot, first arabesque photo, letter of recomendation, personal essay and $25 fee.

 

On their stated reply deadline, they sent out an email to all the applicants that had been accepted to the second audition.

 

The second phase was a personal audition at the company's home studio. The company provided food and lodging for each of the dancers that were accepted to the audition. They picked me up from the airport on Thursday and took me to my hosts home.

 

The audition lasted all day Friday (we did technique and pointe followed by dinner with the compnay) and all day Saturday (technique and repertoire followed by a performance of some of the companies current repertoire).

 

On Sunday they took me to the airport and made sure I was all set to return home.

 

I was accepted one week later!

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OK...is this REAL or a DREAM audition??? :(

Could you share what fantastic company provided this amazing experience?? I am sure there are many many dancers who would love to have this company on their employment/audition radar!! Kudos to them!! :blushing:

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And, just what is the nature of the 'trainee program'? Grooming for apprentice/corps positions or advanced training in a school? What is the expected course of progression for a dancer in the 'trainee program'? Do trainees pay tuition or do they receive some type of remuneration (be it a stipend, a pay check, pointe shoes, etc)? How many trainees are accepted; how many are eventually absorbed into the company; and where do the ones not absorbed into the company typically land--in another trainee program, in another company's apprentice program or corps?

 

Inquiring minds want to know! :( (Oh, wait, perhaps this line of questions/answers should be on the "how did the auditions go" thread). Hmmm.

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Wow :) , this audition sounds like the company is courting and trying to impress the dancer rather than the other way around. I know that when a company (business) would like to try to nail down 'the ABC account', they will go out and wine and dine the various power brokers at ABC in hopes of being selected. I have never heard of a ballet company doing this sort of thing! Was everyone at the second audition invited to join the company? Is there a fee for being a trainee at this company?

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Sorry it took me so long to reply (busy week). The company is Ballet Magnificat, a faith based, classical ballet company based in Jackson, MS. They have two professional companies that tour the United States and abroad every season.

 

Yes, this audition was real!! :shrug:

 

Only 13 of the 25 of us at the second audition were asked to join the company.

 

As to the nature of the trainee program....it is a little different than most, but in a good way. The trainee program is designed for post high school students (though a few of their trainees are in high school) to reach their maximum potential as a professional dancer and to be readied for employment in either the Ballet Magnificat companies or other professional venues.

 

The trainees are not considered to be the "upper level" of their school. Students from their school must go through the same audition process as anyone else to be admitted into the program.

 

Because it is a faith based company, they are looking for a certain amount of spiritual growth as well as technical accomplishment. This makes the requirements for their program different from most.

 

Trainees can remain in the program anywhere from 1-4 years. There are two trainee levels which each have about twenty dances. Each trainee company performs 5-10 times each month. Aside from performing both levels have daily classes which are as follows: Devotions (30 mn), followed by technique (2 hours), lunch (30mn), Pointe or variations (they alternate between pointe class(3 days) and variations on pointe (2 days) (1.5 hours). The last class slot of the day (1.5 hours) is different depending on the day of the week. The class could be modern, jazz, conditioning, pilates, anatomy or rehearsal.

 

As to employment I believe that the trainees receive a stipend (but I am not sure) for performances. They do not receive a shoe allowance. However, the tuition is very reasonable--a mere $250/month.

 

Each year the trainees are evaluated and informed of one of the following: remain in the program with notification of level placement, advancement into one of the companies, let go and encouraged to pursue other professional opportunities. You can only stay in the same level for two years. On average 4-6 dancers are asked into one of the professional companies each year. This number may change, however, at the discretion of the A.D. The faculty is very aware that dance is a short career, and they do not keep students that they do not think will advance into their companies, instead, they let them go and encourage them to pursue other dance opportunities.

 

I am not sure of exact numbers, but I do know that many (if not all) of the trainees that are let go (or decide to leave) have gone on to dance in other venues. Some go to college for dance, some join other companies (usually at the corps level), some have started their own schools and/or companies.

 

The teachers in the program are extremely qualified. You can read about them here.

 

Please let me know if you have any further questions, I'd be happy to try and answer them! :green:

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balletismylife, thank you very much for sharing about Ballet Magnificant and their very humane treatment of their potential trainees! Congratulations to you on your acceptance to the program. Please let us know how things go for you there. I wish you all the best! :angry:

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This is an excellent thread with great infomation. Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories and insights. I believe the companies need to be truthful upfront. Do not advertise on your website that you are looking to fill company, company II and trainee spots if you are indeed only looking for an understudy. Also, be truthful about pay and time commitments. If 200 show up, split it and if you are charging a fee, give the dancers the dignity to at least have a full class. It is very sad that these "cattle calls" are truly becoming weekend moneymakers for dance companies. :wub:

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I am interested to know why so many of you think that charging for auditions is a money making enterprise for professional companies. Maybe having been on the inside, I have a differing picture. :shrug: Lights, water, publicity, salaries, and pianists cost money. The employees working the audition at a home site also have health insurance (hopefully) that costs money. If the company is holding auditions in other locations outside of their home studio, the expense of sending the artistic staff to conduct the audition is very high. It also costs money administratively after an audition is finished. The money charged for an auditon will never pay for the cost of holding an audition. It will help to offset the expenses that have been incurred.

 

While there is a lot to learn from reading this thread, please also take into consideration that it is very expensive to run an audition. When I was of auditoning age, no fee was charged, however there were also many people who attended the auditions "just to get a class from so and so". Are there any suggestions as to how to discourage this sort of behaviour? If cuts are not made how do companies get to see those who really do have a chance to actually get the job?

 

Are you saying that a fee to view a video is reasonable if a dancer is then not chanrged for an audition? :shrug::wub:

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i definitely agree with making cuts, as long as the auditioner has a good chance to see what the dancers can do first. basic cuts, just to weed out those that are truly not company ready, should be made after barre, then after a few (very telling) center combinations, a second cut should be made so that the best dancers at the audition are left with the best chance to be seen for the end of the audition.

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I don't have a dog in this fight, so to speak, but to answer your questions directly: I can't think of any other business that charges applicants to be evaluated. Too bad if auditions cost a lot to run; as others have said before, that's a cost of doing business that should be borne by the company. If they want to run master classes, advertise them as such and charge a fee. If a fee is charged, treat it as a master class and give every participant what they payed for. Cuts are fine if no fee has been charged -- but if people will be cut on the basis of a criterion that can be clearly stated, such as height, give them the courtesy of making that clear ahead of time.

 

vrsfanatic -- you have suggested that it is an acceptable business practice to charge job applicants a fee. Do you think it is ethical?

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