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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pro Company Hiring Practices


dressage

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As I eluded to in an earlier post, I think that this situation is far more global than we in the STates may realize. As several who live in other countries have suggested on this thread, there is a tendency in their own country's companies to hire dancers who are not citizens of that country as well. There certainly is a growing trend amongst dancers right out of HS going to Europe and finding work too.

 

I think that if we were to check the bios of many companies throughout the world, we would find that there is a fair representation of non-citizen dancers on the rosters of many of them. The world is smaller now than it once was. Air travel and the internet have made that a reality. While getting the appropriate visa status to work can be tricky, it is being done with great frequency and dancers are crossing borders to work all the time.

 

I'm not sure that better training or a more ideal facility for ballet or a better work ethic (all suggested on this thread as possible reasons) or any other ONE factor is always the primary reason for why an AD hires non-citizens or citizens for his/her company. There are so many factors that come to play when an AD decides whom he/she will hire! I think it is very important to remember that it is also, by and large, an extremely subjective decision that represents one person's vision for a company. How the AD cobbles together a company that he/she believes will achieve that vision and also garners good ticket sales is one of those great mysteries of the universe. :shrug:

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I hope it is not adding fuel to the fire to note that, as is often the case, this is not a situation limited to ballet. My son turns out to be very, very good at what he does (academics, not dance). He is already, at 15, getting scholarship and potential employment offers from abroad. Often from countries with academics that are considered "better" than here. Does this mean that the educational situation in that country is "worse" than America's? No. Does that mean he's "better" than the foreign students? No. All it means is that in one narrow area at this particular instant in time he has what a particular school and program is looking for.

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dbleon, I think I understand what you are saying! If my interpretation is correct, you are saying that parents have a right to expect that the tuition they pay to a pre-pro school should ensure that they graduate with the tools needed to compete for and obtain employment in a pro company. Is that right?

 

If that is your assertion, how about we split that premise off from this topic to it's own discussion? Whether or not a pre-pro should be 'certifying' that its grads have the necessary skills to obtain the job for which they have been training (and held accountable) is really a separate discussion (although perhaps related) to the original question here: Why are there so many non-citizen dancers in US pro companies?

 

I'm going to do that now and allow both topics to continue their discussion. :thumbsup:

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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.

 

 

Do the people issuing these visas really know about the US ballet labor market and the ballet industry?

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I think that we have to realize that when we're talking about ABT, NYCB, and other associated major companies in the US, that the jobs there are no more "American" than leading artists at the Metropolitan Opera, or artists represented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or guest artists at the New York Philharmonic. (OK, the MMA has an American Wing, but that's :thumbsup: too. Relatively few of the artists represented there from anywhere are still actually alive!)

 

I've not seen demonstrators around a baseball stadium protesting a Japanese or Mexican or Canadian player in the Major Leagues "taking a job away from an American." Garo Yepremian, of Armenian ancestry and Cypriot citizenship was a brilliant kicker for the old Miami Dolphins, and he took his oath of citizenship in his Florida National Guard uniform at the Orange Bowl. That demonstrated a certain commitment, but nobody minded that he wasn't naturalized yet when the Dolphins were winning Super Bowls!

 

The major companies are World companies. Leading artists there are world-class artists. They compete for the same talent as Covent Garden, the Maryinsky and other world venues. If a dancer aspires to a world-class company, then a career ladder more complex has to be reckoned. It is highly unlikely that someone will go right from high school into ABT. I'm not even going to address what they could be, as there are so many ways to build a career, and no one way will fit all, or indeed, many!

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I have been reading this thread with interest. Not sure what to say though! I have quite a few thoughts, most of which in the "slightly off topic" range.

 

First of all - in my house we all have at least two nationalities (and passports): the kids have three. What category would we fit in for this discussion? Say one of my kids got a job in the US and you read a bio which said hometown xxx, Canada you might make some assumptions regarding nationality which would be only partially true...

 

Another thought I've had while reading here is something along the lines of "the grass is always greener." Many Canadian dancers and parents envy the opportunities in US schools (yagp, increased performances in some cases, and wide range of SI opportunities), whereas in the US it seems as though there are pressures we can only imagine. In terms of company positions, there are very few companies in Canada let alone positions to be had. Some take primarily, but not exclusively, from their school for apprentice and corps positions (e.g. RWB, NBOC); others seem to cast a wider net (Alberta Ballet took quite a few this season from the JKO school). You just never know. Some dancers I've seen "grow up" have had multiple job offers at dance school graduation; others have had a longer road to employment.

 

Do I wish the path was smoother? You bet. Would I have changed anything? Not so sure.

 

m2

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I know that this is off topic, but, Major Johnson, I would beg to differ with you on your belief that it would be rare for a dancer to go directly from high school into ABT. There are quite a few dancers currently in ABT II and ABT that took exactly that route.

 

As far as the rest of this thread goes, I like that good dancers can find their "fit" in companies all over the world; this fact broadens our view of the world.

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. Another poster suggested looking at the . Is something wrong with the American training system, American bodies, work ethic? Why are we spending thousands to SI's that we know our kids will never be invited to join because all/most of their dancers are foreign

 

This was the original question? Their is no answer to this because no one has done a complete study. We have only opinions or our own stand point.

 

IMO American training is fine, bodies work ethic, and the reason we(americans) pay is because our government does not. Other countries whose government fund them, see their resources go to non-citizen as well. The Arts, sports. are open to a world community. And in the end we all feel frustrated if our dancers do not get jobs,which makes us look for reason why.Baryshnikov admirer how hard Americans had to work for their training.

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Someone posted this week about college degrees and companies. Another poster suggested looking at the company dancers and checking their bios. Having a daughter that wants to major in Ballet, I was interested. I went to 3 major companies and my eyes were opened! Most and I mean most of the principal and soloists were foreign born and trained. Why are all those positions being filled with foreign dancers? Is something wrong with the American training system, American bodies, work ethic? Why are we spending thousands to SI's that we know our kids will never be invited to join because all/most of their dancers are foreign?

 

Here is the complete original post on this thread. The original/first question is highlighted in boldface and is referenced in the title of this thread. The remaining questions are additional questions, perhaps rhetorical ones, that are related to the original question.

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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.

 

 

Do the people issuing these visas really know about the US ballet labor market and the ballet industry?

 

There are certain qualifications for the H-1 that require documented box office draw, etc.

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I know that this is off topic, but, Major Johnson, I would beg to differ with you on your belief that it would be rare for a dancer to go directly from high school into ABT. There are quite a few dancers currently in ABT II and ABT that took exactly that route.

 

ABT II is not a major company. As for ABT itself, I would be interested in seeing a list of any such dancers. Note: This should be a list of people who graduate in late May or June, and by the beginning of the next month are in the major company. Going to apprenticeship or a studio company doesn't count. I believe that you could find more than a couple of kids who leave school without graduating, but that's not what I'm asking for.

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Moderators, I don't know how it works, but will it be possible to especially include older teens (those who're about to graduate or graduated and looking for a job) in this discussion? I am really interesting in what they think about this subject. I get the impression that only "parents/ adult students react.

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Zampa, this thread is on an Open Forum---thus, the members whose demographics you wish to include are included and permitted to both read and post. If they choose not to, that's their perogative.

 

As for why they aren't participating in this discussion, (based on my personal knowledge), that particular sector of our membership is less active because they are extremely busy with their intense company-like training hours, college training hours and academic classes/homework, and/or additional wage-earning job hours. Their little free time is not spent on this Board.

 

We'd love to hear from them, but we need to understand that they have limited time to spend. They are living it, so talking about it takes too much precious time and energy.

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