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Archived: 2005-2017 Company Audition Journeys


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Yes mom2, thank you for that wise perspective!!!

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As the mom of a 5'8+ blonde dancer, think we would have truly appreciated saving our funds/time/heartbreak on NOT doing the auditions where only 5'5 and under brunettes were the flavor of any AD...

change comes in baby steps, and only when demanded, in any setting!! :)

just my very old 2 cents...

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We must also keep in mind that when an AD says he/she is 'looking for something specific', it doesn't necessarily mean that 'specific' quality is a specific height, specific coloring, or even a specific body type. It could be something very specific, but he/she might not be able to verbalize it until he/she actually sees it and point to it and say 'That's it!! That's what I was looking for'.


We've all been shopping, knowing just what we want, but not being able to describe it or even visualize it---until we actually find it.

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Good analogy dancemaven! We have all been shopping and not found quite what we want and haven't known quite how to describe it. They, the AD's know what they are looking for and it eludes them. I did that for years looking for the perfect oversized shirt! I found it this year. I wonder at times if that elusive perfect dancer is truly ever found.


The truth is the AD's of every company on the planet are looking for the best, the very best. Their own dancers they have developed through their schools play the waiting game as well. They, the AD's want the dancer who presents that little bit that is different. They want perfection in their eye. So they look and look and hold auditions and their hometown trained dancers also wait and wonder, will they be displaced before they even get a contract. It's a buyers market and the dancers are the commodity to be bought. The best in the eye of the director is not always the best dancer. They have that something they want and that makes them the best at that specific time. Sorry if this is offensive to some but it is a reality. Being the best technician or having the best turn out etc can be truly boring, so when I talk of the best dancer it is as subjective as anyone's view in this area. Be it company class or the cattle call audition, well, it doesn't matter. All that matters is being noticed and that all important opportunity at a contract.

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Pasdetrois, thank you for that very helpful, insightful post. I think you are exactly right, and, dancemaven, your shopping analogy is very appropriate! Thanks!

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In my opinion, publicizing what an AD is looking for in an audition would be no more discriminatory than there already publicized company height requirements.

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I agree with the idea that the ADs task is very difficult in finding a great fit for the company from so many worthy dancers. However, I think that a little more fair play in regards to the anticipated audition results (corps, trainee, SI) will enable dancers to decide if they want to participate. Publicatiions often refer people to web sites in these days which can be updated frequently. I also think that if one pays for a class a certain "contract" is entered into. There should be a sense of a fair shot for anyone who pays for the class. At least an opportunity to be seen should be presented for the price of the class.

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I understand the "I know what I want when I see it" concept. Especially at a large open audition when an AD may want to see who catches his/her eye. After determining how many contracts are available the AD can then review the candidates they liked and how those candidates match up with current company members.


What doesn't seem to make sense is the type of situation lsu described. My dd had very solid information from inside the company that this AD was looking for one very specific person. The audition notice was posted well in advance. It just doesn't make sense that at a minimum the desired height wouldn't be posted. I can see why one wouldn't say "5'5" with medium brown hair, dark eyes, long neck and a short waist". But wouldn't it be advantageous to the AD as well as the dancers to limit the pool of auditionors to those that at least match the desired height? As mom2 said - how can the AD focus on and remember so many?


Are the AD's just greedy and want to see everyone regardless?

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With respect to all, I'd like to say that I do not think ADs are "greedy". This is a very tough business and it is an honor and a great opportunity for any young dancer to have the chance to audition for any company's artistic director. The pressure of running a ballet company in this economy is immense (as it is for any "arts" organization). If these young dancers were actors, there could be hundreds of auditions that they would attend before getting a job (a short term job!). Artistic Directors are looking for the special individuals that they can invest time in and who they feel will bring a great creative spirit and strength to their companies. If they were running a major league baseball team, we would all understand the need to see every young up and coming player to see if there was a "fit". It's their job and their responsibility to see these young dancers. Just my perspective. I really do understand how tough this business is.

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IMHO if the AD's limited the pool size down, they also decrease their revenue from the "cattle calls"..they make a huge amount of money doing it this way!!! :)

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It is interesting that there is often a fee involved in these big auditions.

I do not remember my DD mentioning that at all - so far - over here (germany). (she has obviously not been everywhere.. to about six so far, I think)


It costs quite a bit to get to the cities and stay overnight, of course, though.


What have others noticed in Europe? Are there commonly fees charged for auditions? (for academy auditions there are fees, though)



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In Europe, to my knowledge, professional auditions never charge. I still can't believe this is happening frequently in the States. Just horrible.

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However, in Europe more and more you see audition notices with "by invitation only". They make a pre-selection from photos/Dvds/CVs.

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There should be a sense of a fair shot for anyone who pays for the class. At least an opportunity to be seen should be presented for the price of the class.


But wouldn't it be advantageous to the AD as well as the dancers to limit the pool of auditionors to those that at least match the desired height?


Just a couple of devil's advocate thoughts based on the quotes. We do have to remember that company auditions are not SI auditions. Parents are no longer paying for the "priviledge" :) to send their child away to an SI for training. SI auditions are expected to be class. Company auditions are classes but in no way has anyone ever said that they are class in the same way we tell our students to treat every SI audition like a Master class. Company auditions are an audition. Class is given so that the AD can see what the dancers look like dancing and see their technique. That is a very minute yet BIG difference in what the expectation should be of them.


We also have to remember that during audition season, ADs do not yet know who is coming back in their company. They know who they intend to ask back but not yet is everything banked in stone. So it is in their best interest if they project they will have only one opening to see more dancers than what is a fit for that opening. As an example, last year where DD was a veteran member signed her contract and then a month later received a full scholarship to a very prestigious grad program that she felt she couldn't turn down. The AD let her out of her contract graciously. But she was a very different dancer than he had gone out on the audition circuit looking for and this was a new opening that he thought was already filled. Had he published 5'3" to 5'5" he would have been in quandry finding a replacement since she was 5'8" and all contracts had been signed two months prior.


I don't see anything about the audition season that indicates that the ADs are greedy. While they are on the time clock, this is not money in their pockets. Auditions are a line item on their budget, if there is excess it goes elsewhere, it is in the negative they get themselves in trouble. If it was greed then you wouldn't see the number of US companies who have drastically cut back in the number of locations they have traditionally auditioned doing so. They would be scheduling auditions at every turn just to make money. That has not been the recent case which leads me to believe that at the end of the day they break even. Remember earlier we discussed a Ballet Memphis audition in a location other than NYC where the turnout was small I don't remember if there was a fee for that audition, but if it was the company lost money on that site visit. Especially with smaller companies, this makes a huge difference. Sure a donor can be asked to fund auditions, but if your child was a company member would you rather the donor fund auditions or a contract spot? Especially since donors seem to be dropping like flies. (at least in the US)


Please do not think that my playing devil's advocate (several times now) on this thread is belief that the ADs and ballet as a system are right in all they do. But there is a middle ground between our venting and the end result of dance jobs that should be seen also. We don't have to like it, but we do need to at least think about it.


As a side note, I did calculate what we spent on college auditions/visits/applications for my DD vs. company audition tours (since another DD does that in a year) and even with paying for auditions, hotels and flights we paid less for her to audition/apply for companies that we spent on finding the right college. A college we knew she would likely not attend if a dance job came about. Looking back, there might have been some irony in that also.

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Quote Doubleturn: However, in Europe more and more you see audition notices with "by invitation only". They make a pre-selection from photos/Dvds/CVs.





Oh! I did not know this was not the case in the US!

I have learned something. :)



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