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Archived: 2005-2017 Company Audition Journeys


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Balletbooster...I'd be very curious to know what second companies these are that provide a comfortable living wage for it's dancers? :angry: Tango

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Oh yes I can understand this as I've heard they pay extremely well! One of few second companies I'm guessing that can offer this to their dancers!

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Guest balletandsynchro

My DD told me that there are several UBA graduating senior girls who have been offered apprentice contracts at companies in recent weeks. I'd agree with premaballerina, that many companies simply don't know how many slots they have to fill until their current dancers sign contracts.


My DD and her friends are very proud of mouse's son, and his plans for this summer and the fall! Well done! :angry:

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Spring dance is this weekend at NCSA and a number of ADs will be on hand for the performances and will be offering master classes to the students. This weekend traditionally results in lots of offers being made to seniors, so the audition results are certainly not all in! :angry:

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An apprentice contract (even unpaid or poorly paid), is the best way to eventually be offered a corps contract. The apprentices should not be used as slave labor, and should be hired once they're ready. But working in a company is completely different from training in a school. Completely. And it does take some time to adjust to the style of a company. You need to train to move like the dancers in the main company. That's a good way of approaching an apprentice year. Training to work with a particular company. You learn the style, and learn the rep. A lot of apprentices wait tables at night. It's hell for a year, but that's how it seems to be.


Heck, I'm working a stupid sales job right now that requires a training period with slightly less wage and no commissions. :wacko: A lot of jobs have a "training period". Not one or two years...but we all know ballet is hard. :angry:


I've been trying to be coldly objective lately about the whole apprentice thing. I look at myself, and the other apprentices. Is every single person improving? Yes. Good. Are people often unhappy about being an apprentice? Sure, but we're emotional artists, doing something that tends to be emotional and difficult. Are deserving dancers hired to full company in a timely fashion? Yes. Do I get enough information/feedback about my own dancing that will allow me to improve? Yes.


I also notice that my "eye" for what is actual improvement has changed. A lot of technical things just *go away* when one is re-training, or working in a different way. But it's an overall ability to move in a particular way and with a particular quality that's important and needed on stage. In classes now, I'm paying attention to, and working on things that never occured to me before.

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Agreed. Unfortunately, if you want to start building up a professional resume, you need to take whatever you are offered these days...paid or unpaid. With the economy the way it is, and with the support of the arts suffering, you have to take what you can get because few positions are being offered. I would live a life of poverty anyday as a dancer before I would work a job sitting in front of a computer all day making a sufficient salary. It is close to impossible to survive on a trainee/apprentice salary alone without the assistance of parents or a second job. (unless you are with a top 10 company) This is hard to do, but working a second job helps to teach you about life away from mom and dad and gives you a sense of freedom. As with any other job in america, ballet is all about paying your dues and climbing the ladder of heirarchy. So paying your dues as an apprentice is in most cases mandatory. Plus it gives the Artistic Director an idea of your work ethic and dedication which is imperative to being considered as a full company member.

This is just my input based on my own real experiences as a professional dancer for the past 8 years. If you want to be a professional dancer, you sometimes have to make financial sacrifices and put all material things aside. In the long run you will see that it's worth it!

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I think our parents here are all seasoned enough to be in agreement with what lampwick and premaballrina have to say about the apprentice/trainee positions being wonderful continued training and stepping stones.


The question was whether high school grads are getting full company offers or not. I interpreted it as a question, not of the merits/demerits of other positions, but of the general trend in hiring of dancers straight out of ballet programs and what the newly minted grads this year might expect.


It's interesting to hear the replies. Even though many are being hired as trainees or apprentices, it's still true that, due to supply/demand issues, more male current high school graduates than female are being hired into full company positions.

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This conversation IS interesting. I hadn't realized that this was the general trend among graduates this year. (I guess I don't have many people to compare myself to.) In a perverse way this make me feel MUCH better about being an apprentice... I guess everyone else at my level is in the same boat... :angry:






Verrrrrry interesting.

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The information contained in dancer's bios on company websites usually spell it out. I would fathom that virtually no females would get a corps contract straight out of school, based on what I've read. Even a step up to a company like ABT often sees somewhat seasoned professionals taking a "demotion" to apprentice from corps.


Heck, even a big star like Alexandra Ansanelli...a principal dancer in NYCB, took a "demotion" when she joined Royal as a first soloist. She doesn't know the rep there and has to adapt to a different style.


If anyone here knows of a single female dancer who gets hired into corps straight out of an academy...I'm sure it would be interesting to hear.


And I'd also love to hear of anyone who has success with a cattle call, "open" audition. Getting a paid corps contract? I really don't think it's a realistic plan at all.


This career is TOUGH stuff. Like any job, experience can count even more than "skills". In graphic design, I'm more likely to get a job based on corporate experience, even over someone who may have more "skills", but with no experience in that type of environment. That's why dot.com boom was so bad for so many people. Kids could freelance on thier own and make tons of $$$ on thier own right out of school, but are now jobless. People who took less $$$, but got more *experience* are better off now. Anyone can make a website nowadays. But a professional knows more about visual communication, knows how to deal with people. Same with design. Knowledge of photoshop, etc does NOT make someone a designer. Makes them a technician. There are certain skills which may be more difficult to quantify on paper that someone gets in a company....valuable sklls...And I'm learning that the same exact thing is true in dance.


Apprenticing with a good company right now, and waiting tables, will probably be better off for the career than taking non-ballet performance jobs or crappy pick-up work.


That's my 2 cents. But what do I know. It's just been the conclusions I can draw, based on where I'm at and what I've gathered from people I talk to.

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Ed McPherson

The trend for dancers to take a few years as a trainee/apprentice does a weird thing for most of the countries collegiate programs as well if you consider,


Most dancers that choose to go to college will be extremely unhappy graduating and entering a trainee/apprenticeship position. Not because of the job title or the lack of money, but because the people they will be dancing with will be just out of high school. This seems trivial, but for someone who is 21 there is no way in heck they want to go to a place and be thrown in and treated as a 17 year old. People grow up a ton in college. If colleges cant start getting their graduates into corps positions its going to be a nightmare.


I haven’t thought about it too much, but it seems like there are only a couple simple resolutions.


1. The "average" good college graduate can find a corps job. (highly unlikely)


2. Collegiate students are offered traineeships/apprenticeships, and refuse them. Resulting in those unpaid programs continuing to be filled with high school graduates.


3. Collegiate students are offered traineeships/apprenticeships, and accept them. Resulting in those programs being mixed age groups.


Who knows what would happen if/when collegiate students get desperate enough to take those unpaid positions. Companies decided they liked to hire maturing, thus young people can’t get paid these days. The natural extension of that would suggest that companies would also prefer maturity in their unpaid dancers if it became available.


So a doomsdayer would predict that as soon as collegiate dancers become desperate enough to work for free, they are going to push the younger dancers out of those jobs as well. Every liberal arts college and its mother has a new dance department, as shown by the collegiate form on this site. Over educated dancers prepare to flood the market…

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Ed, On that note, can you tell us if the jobs accepted by the IU grads this spring (as posted on the college board) were all corp positions? (other than yours!)

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I do know one 16 year old girl who accepted a corps position with Boston this year.

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Lampwick, as a mom, I am glad you are here with your very common sense approach. In every job, you have to start some where (and a great big yay to those who get to start closer to their dream!).

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I think its great that some aspiring professional dancers still chose to go to college. However, I seldom will run into an acomplished professional dancer who has gone to college before starting their career. Typically it's the dancers who couldn't get a job with a company that go to college. I don't feel that those who go to college should be treated any different than someone coming straight out of High School. Both are not yet professional. The college grads are actually at the disadvantage because they are older. I think that the 19 year old girl who has apprenticed two years has the advantage of getting a corp job in any given company over a 23 year old college grad with nothing but college experience. And I don't think that a college grad should expect to get a corp job...status wise, they are still at the same place they were at the end of High School no matter how much they have improved. That's just how it works. Maybe I sound stuck up, but as a real professional dancer in the real world this is how it is. And I don't mean this offensively to those who chose to go to college, I admire that choice...but it's definitely the harder road to take.

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