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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pre-pro vs. semi-pro


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Ms. Leigh,

I would love to know what is the difference between a local studio being considered preprofessional or semiprofessional? Thank you so much

ccdancer

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Well, actually, I have never heard of one being called "semi" professional. That would indicate to me that they are partially professional, as opposed to pre-professional, which would indicate students who are not yet professional but in a training program which leads to professional. Personally, I prefer to call the qualified schools professional schools, without either descriptive word. :lol:

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"Semi-professional" always sounded to me like, "sometimes ya get paid, sometimes ya don't". That could be all of us! :lol:

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What would you call a "pre-professional" student who, when needed, gets paid a small amount for rehearsals and performances by a company? Would that qualify as professional experience? :lol:

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Well, experience maybe, but it would still not qualify them as a professional dancer. They are still a student. A professional dancer must be working full time as a professional dancer. That does not preclude another job, if they have to do that to make ends meet, but it means they are no longer in high school and are making their living primarily by working in a company.

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I know of two high school students who are paid professionals with ballet companies, both in corp positions. They earn the same salary as their counterparts who are high school grads. Wouldn't they be considered professional dancers?

 

Also, what about high school students who are contracted to pro companies (with full pay and full time commitments, working alongside those who are post grads) during their weeks/months off from school, such as during a Christmas break or in the summer? I again know of several who have done this. Wouldn't that qualify them as professional dancers?

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Yes, if they are a full company member. Once in a while someone does get in prior to graduation, and has to finish school by homeschooling or some other method, I assume.

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In the case of the two I know, they attended regular high school, but because they just needed a few credits to graduate, they did their 2-3 hours of HS the first periods of the day and then went straight to company class from school. :lol:

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Rather than using high school as the key, it seems to me that you would be considered professional if you were not paying and regularly attending classes in a dance studio, rather they were taking classes with a dance company and you were being paid a regular salary.

 

My DD has done "semi-professional" theatre which usually means 1 of 2 things. She gets a performance pay or a stipend. No regular salary and no rehearsal pay. The one professional job she did, she was paid for rehearsal time and performance on a bi-weekly basis. (Is bi-weekly every two weeks?)

 

I don't know if theatre terms can be used in dance. She does not list herself as a professional anything (actor or dancer) - just with professional and semi-professional experience.

 

I have not heard of a semi-professional school for dance or theatre.

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And when you say working full time as a dancer, it should also be noted that many pro contracts are for less than 30 weeks, meaning that the dancer is only employed for about 1/2 of the year as a dancer. The other half, they are doing something else in order to eat!

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Yes, I fully understand that company contracts may vary anywhere from about 26 weeks to 50!

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Ms. Leigh, I know that you understand about contract lengths. :shrug: I was just throwing that out as a general comment to clarify what being employed full-time often means in the ballet world. :wink:

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Where do the many "pick up" companies fit into this "professional" equation?

 

Does living wage enter in at all?

 

How would you categorize freelancing, and what would determine if this is judged "professional" or not?

 

Is it like the distinction between salary (as described in a ballet contract) as opposed to wage (dancers are paid per rehearsal or per performance? and is the difference here professional or amateur? or career vs. job? or blue collar vs white (pink) collar?

 

Please move if this is the wrong thread...

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As I understood it, this topic was actually about schools, not companies or whether dancers are considered professional in various circumstances. We really have gone way :D !

 

However, since we have done that, I will just say that there are so many variables that it is almost impossible to draw the line. There are a lot of professionals working in NY, for instance, who dance in "pick up" companies, or even companies who only perform a couple of times a year and pay the dancers for a few weeks at a time. Obviously, these dancers have to have other means of support. Does that make them not professional? :shrug: I would like to think that pros are dancers making a living from dancing, but, this might not always be the case. So, since there are no "official" lines, I think we have to agree to just go with the flow here and either keep wondering or just decide where that line is for you.

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Coming back to the original question.... Is there are a (US) term such as PROFESSIONAL school?

 

In the UK, there are institutions which use the term professional (dance) for Bachelor degrees (e.g. Central School of Ballet offers a BA in Professional Dance and Performance, and the school is advertised as a professional school rather than a pre-pro training institution).

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