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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pro Company Hiring Practices


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Sure, the mindsets don't know any borders, but if you pay thousands of dollars for your dk to become a ballet dancer (here or abroad) or you pay thousands of dollars for your kid to get into a certain college and they end up "nowhere", because the others want the taste of an other "exotic country", I, at least, will feel betrayed.

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  • Mel Johnson


  • balletbooster


  • mirabray


  • Zampa


I think that in part, you are correct balletbooster. It's very common in the US to seek out that which is different. And ultimately a company must hire those that the audience will want to see. Who better to fill the ranks of Don Q than virtuoso male Latin-American dancers!


I also think there's some merit to how the dancers are often hand selected at an early age, so that those that are competing for positions have the attributes. But, according to visa requirements, they still must prove they are of unusual merit and have talent that can't be gotten domestically. That's what I question. We have thousands and thousands of dancers. Surely some of them have equitable skills.


I also wonder about salaries and whether dancers from other countries are willing to except lower salaries or different working conditions. This wouldn't be an issue with union companies, but perhaps with non-union ones. I know of one regional company that is predominantly non-US born and trained. Do US dancers perhaps demand too much?

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It is my understanding that dancer in the UK earn considerably more than dancers in the US, comparatively speaking. I don't think coming here gives them more money, maybe just more opportunity as there are so many more companies.


I still go back to the training, even though it maybe given by Europeans it does not have the consistancy that Europe in particular has. Just because you are a Russian does not mean you are necessarily a good teacher. There is a love affair in this country with accents. It can work as quite the smoke screen for inadequency. As I said in my earlier post, dolly dinkles are all over the world and they could even be taught in this country by persons with accents that make you believe they know what they are doing.


By the way, I don't think the original question was knocking foreigners I think it was speaking of frustration that in some way the high percentage of overseas nationals in US companies indicated a lack of something in American dancers! I think the frustration is readily understandable!

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I just received a late night call (for him) from my son who just finished a performance at the Opera House in Germany with his dance classmates and also the company, and he was just so excited to be a part of this world, the ballet dance world! I cherish these positives and his absolute enthusiasm and don't worry about the fact that he may take a job from a European next year - many Canadian positions are taken by dancers from the US and abroad. It IS an international dance world, and I know for my son and his international classmates, they are receiving superb training, as he did here in Canada, and they will take a position at a company who wants them regardless of which country that company is situated in.

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AS parents, we want to provide the best opportunities for our children...for the summer that means costly training with a school. At $4,000 plus for 5 years that's expensive for summer training especially when the family especially has other children... I think students, international and abroad, ar entitled to work where they find work...My concern is that the visa is given to a new hire because the ballet comapny cannot find a comparable new hire. So with say 10 top training schools in the US how can it be that 1/2 a company is made up of dancers with green cards? What has happened to the kids from pre-professional schools here?

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We've silently wondered this as well, because these dancers must get a visa (sorry but I forget the exact phrasing) that shows talent to the degree that it can not be found in the US.


There are different types of work visas. The H-2 visa requires that no American citizen could be found to fill the position. The H-1 visa can be granted to performers on the basis of distinguished ability or merit.



(from a US Embassy website)



H-1B classification applies to persons in a specialty occupation, which requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge requiring completion of a specific course of higher education. This classification requires a labor attestation issued by the Secretary of Labor. This classification also applies to Government-to-Government research and development, or co-production projects administered by the U.S. Department of Defense.


H-2A classification applies to temporary or seasonal agricultural workers.


H-2B classification applies to temporary or seasonal nonagricultural workers.

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I think that before we even try to come to grips with racism, we first have to examine the phenomenon of "nativism". That's an even wider bigotry than merely race. Anybody "not from around here" counts as "them", and, we, of course, are us. It had some big play in the US in the late 1840s and -50s as the "Know-nothing" Party, which was a splinter of the old Whigs. The usual method of political action was burning THEIR houses. And when the authorities asked, the local partisans were instructed to say, "I don't know nothing about it." Which, of course, would be the truth. They didn't know nothing. They knew something. The descendants of the Know-nothings include the Knights of the Golden Circle and the various incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan.

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Are we on the same thread. Who is saying anything about racism? My statement is true on the original thread. Just looking for justification of why it is so. All the big companies have schools. Why aren't they filling them with their students that they have trained. Looks like everyone is beating around the bush and doesn't know or doesn't want to face reality.

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No, we're not talking about racism - yet (even though 2 and maybe 3 posts above have mentioned or alluded to it). But what I'm talking about is nativism. Xenophobia. THEY come over here to take OUR jobs. Isn't that what you're talking about?

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It seems that the principals are not US-trained, but the corps is a different story. Garyecht has pointed out that MOST of the company members are US-trained, so I infer that the corps are almost entirely so. And that is where your sons and daughters are most likely to get hired.


This situation seems very much akin to the way Harvard hires its faculty. Most institutions of higher education hire so-called 'junior faculty' in non-tenured positions. After seven years, if you've done your job reasonably well, you get promoted and given tenure, and you are set for life. Not Harvard. Harvard does not promote junior faculty very readily. Harvard hires its senior faculty -- full professors -- from other institutions, AFTER they have proven themselves elsewhere. Why? Because it can. It's Harvard, and it can take its pick from anyone in the world. And so can ABT.

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And you should be aware that the impression that seems to be common in the US that there are lots of jobs in Europe is now inaccurate. And you are unlikely to be hired ahead of an EU citizen at the corps level.


I found this under Company audition post 347976


Is this true opposite EU citizen are hire over foreigns. What about other countries.


The questions why? 1.

Is it our training not producing better dancers?

2.Is it our openess to all countries when it comes to Ballet (Arts) or exceptional talent in general.

3. Or is Ballet just open communities with no boarders

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I found one AD argument about American Training. Interesting enough, this was an article regarding race.




"In response to interview requests American Ballet Theater, led by Kevin McKenzie, said in a statement: “Overall, more than 40 percent of A.B.T.’s roster has been trained outside the U.S. We think these numbers speak to the larger issue of access to quality ballet training in the U.S., regardless of racial background.”

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From experience, I can say that many countries in the EU are fine with hiring non- EU dancers. I work in an EU country and know plenty of others who do. The countries that are not (Italy, for example) are generally quite up front about their policy and openly say that you cannot audition unless you either have an Italian work permit or something else. I have found that the ballet community is quite universal, and that it goes both ways. Yes, there are plenty of foreign born dancers working in the US, but there are plenty of Americans working over here. As to the whys-- in my experience, Americans and Europeans tend to have somewhat different styles (yes, I am generalizing wildly here, but go with me for a minute). In my company, I'm the only dancer with an imperfect fifth position. Everyone else is toe to heel, toe to heel, the end. It's beautiful and I'm jealous...but I wasn't trained to do that, I trained in America (yes, I'm sure there are schools in America that enforce this policy. But I didn't go to them). On the flip side, I can do certain bravoura things (fouettes to both sides, multiple sixes, that sort of thing) that the other women don't do. A director of an American company may be looking for that idealized perfection that many Europeans can provide, while an European director may be interested in the things that an American can do well. There's a place for everyone, I truly believe that.

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