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Auditions: Gap years


Balletgrl4evr

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I will be 18 in September. I was in the top level(Advanced/ Pre-Professional division) of the Miami City Ballet School last year. I didn't audition for too many companies this year, but I did not recieve contracts with the ones I did audition for. I am seriously starting to doubt my abilities as a dancer. I'm smart, I graduated high school at 16. Maybe I should just quit and go to college??? All of my friends just graduated high school and they are going to these amazing colleges. Is it bad that I'm jealous? That some part of me wishes I didn't graduate early to dance...and that maybe I would be going to an amazing college too??? [...] Even when I am dancing I take 2 or 3 college classes, but I am Pre-Med, so it is difficult to spread my focus too thin. I know I am a good dancer, but I'm not great, and I will never be amazing. I don't want to make my mom keep paying more and more money to train at the top schools for something that may never happen. Does anybody have any thoughts? I want to dance...I do. I just don't know if I can keep waiting to get a contract...

xoxo

-Balletgrl4evr

 

 

Edited by Moderator to remove height & weight details, as per Ballet Talk for Dancers policy.

Edited by Redbookish
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More and more young workers in the US in all sorts of fields are starting to incorporate "gap years" in their career plans. (You're doing one now!) These years are most conveniently timed between high school and university, or between university and the serious beginning of fulltime work, or both. I recommend that you consider this option while planning your future. 18 is still a little young to have a declared major already, so keep your mind open. (That's open, not vacant!) In the meantime, audition like crazy - I believe that for the great majority of dancers, dance first, university next is the best plan.

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In today's economy quite a lot is changing. Many ballet companies are struggling as donors who kept them afloat cut back on the amount of their donations so yes, jobs may be fewer. However, you have admitted that you didn't audition anywhere and everywhere and if you want to dance that has to be your charge next year.

 

There is nothing wrong with going to college and continuing to dance while you wait to find something. Many dancers are doing just that with their college dance programs. It will be harder for you in pre-med but not impossible.

 

As Mr. Johnson as said, this is a gap year and it's up to you what you do with the gap. However, you must believe in yourself and believe that dancing is what you really want to do in order to cut through the tougher times. Use this year to better prepare you not just for dancing but for a Plan B should the dancing not work out at the end of next year and then you won't have the regret in either direction should things not work out.

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I am seeing many dancers joining their first companies with degrees in hand. Degree's with double majors no less, ballet being one of them. The climate, in this area appears to be, yet again changing, at least with some companies. Maturity really appears to have an appeal for many a director. There will always be the company that hand out contracts to 16 year olds. These are often dancers who haven't graduated from High School and may never do so. However there are companies out there who are not afraid of a well educated dancer and actually value them.

 

A double major with pre med as a second degree would indeed be a hard road but if it keeps you dancing and your dream alive why not go for it. You may be a beautiful dancer but not yet a mature dancer, one who has taken the leap from student to professional in their performance ability. Take a deep breath and don't come down on yourself. I for one no longer believe that attending university is closing a door.

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Is it possible for you to get a scholarship at one of the pre-pro schools that takes post-high school grads? My daughter did that. She received a scholarship to WSB, and continued her pre-pro training there for one and a half years after graduating from Nutmeg Ballet. My husband lost his job just as she moved down to DC into an apartment we were supposed to be helping to finance.

 

Daughter got a morning job - 8 am to 12 pm - five days a week, and managed to pay for most of her apt. (we supplied the security fee of two months rent that we later got back), as well as her food. In the midst of that time, she also accepted a part-time position with a contemporary company that called her up for tours every now and then. She was able to pick and choose, based on her ballet performance schedule, which tours to take. Her company - a passport expediter firm - was very flexible about her schedule.

 

It took taking a wider view of the kind of dance she'd thought she would want to do. In the end, she signed full-time with the contemporary company, with occasional ballet guest work, and has been with them ever since. She starts a new job traveling as featured dancer/choreographer with a touring musical theater company in the fall.

 

It can take a little ingenuity to make this sort of schedule work, but it certainly is possible. Having gone through the MCB school, I'd think that it might be very possible for you to get a scholarship to continue training elsewhere. It's such a broadening experience too. Although my daughter's always been steady and a little mature for her age, she really treasures that period of time, saying that managing her own apt., job, and dance training gave her the fortitude to do anything on her own in life.

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WOW that's really an accomplishment for your daughter! If I can't find a ballet job for the fall, the I will go to UCBerkeley Mon-Thur. Then dance on FRI/SAT. And try to take morning class on Tuesdays and Thursdays or something. Berkeley doesn't really have a good dance program though. I just really expected to get a job this year. After MCB I thought it would be a breeze getting a contract, so so so worng. Again I didn't audition for too many, but half the ones I did audition for didn't have any contracts to give out to begin with. :dry:

 

Anyway, I just need to keep trying :thumbsup:

If anyone hears of companies in CA, WA, AZ, CO, NM, or uhhhh Oregon that need anyone and are auditioning, please please let me know!

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I do not know of any company contracts at the moment. However I do know a young dancer, a university graduate no less, who was feeling and sounding pretty much the same as you do. It was late spring, early summer when she took the bull by the horns and called companies directly asking if she could take company class with them. Some said yes and some no. After each company class she spoke to the director and was politely told she was very nice but 'thank you but no thanks'. Then came her last company class and the offer of a job with it. She is now a full company member of a very nice and respected company and beyond happy as you may imagine. She believed in herself and for her a little tenacity really paid off. Good luck with your decision making and believe in yourself, sometimes it shows.

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WOW that's really an accomplishment for your daughter! If I can't find a ballet job for the fall, the I will go to UCBerkeley Mon-Thur. Then dance on FRI/SAT. And try to take morning class on Tuesdays and Thursdays or something. Berkeley doesn't really have a good dance program though. I just really expected to get a job this year. After MCB I thought it would be a breeze getting a contract, so so so worng. Again I didn't audition for too many, but half the ones I did audition for didn't have any contracts to give out to begin with. :(

 

Anyway, I just need to keep trying :D

If anyone hears of companies in CA, WA, AZ, CO, NM, or uhhhh Oregon that need anyone and are auditioning, please please let me know!

Sometimes teaching one or few classes a week with local ballet schools and taking on a major role in Nutcracker for them could work as a great start. There are many schools in SF Bay Area who would most likely love to have you as a guest teacher/dancer. Those schools have Cavalier/SugarPlum contracted from mayor ballet companies and then those dancers could share experience with you.

Good luck!

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Also a reminder to broaden your scope of "acceptable" companies. While that may not be the situation you encountered, sometimes when students come from a strong program like MCB, they only look at bigger companies. There are a good number of smaller, more regional companies that did accept new trainee/apprentices this year. I'd encourage any of our dancers auditioning in these tough times to begin now looking around at some of the more regional companies to see what they look like. There are many gems out there that just don't have big names outside their region.

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Well I'm trying companies such as Smuin Ballet, Sacramento, San Jose, Oakland, Eugene, OBT, Aspen Santa Fe, Colorado, LAB, State Street, along with a few others. So they are all respected companies with well managed budgets, but not necessarily the huge well known ones like Miami City Ballet, NYCB, PNB, SFB, etc.

It just seems to be a pretty tough year in the dance/ arts world from people I have spoken with. I want to be in a company, I just want to be wanted. I am so used to being "the favorite" or "the go to girl". This is very new not getting contracts from companies I thought I would be a shoe in for. I just have to readjust my thinking to "if I go to college, my career won't be over"

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Don't forget that you are still very young, balletgrl, and this is just the first go round. Lots of companies these days are not quite as anxious to take on dancers right out of school, and you are even younger than most graduates. It is a tough job market, but not walking in the door on the first try does not mean that you won't get there. Maybe you need another year of "finishing", in terms of training, and hopefully somewhere you can also get a lot of performing experience.

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You know balletgrl4evr, you sound just like my daughter did last year. Her audition experience's a year ago left her numb! She actually quit for a while. We knew of no one last year who got a job of any nature. These are indeed really hard times. My DD is now in a university program and loving it. She is positive about the future whatever it may bring. She is getting straight 'A' in her academic classes as well as ballet and she feels that she is moving forward. What Ms. Leigh said about 'finishing' is I believe spot on. My DD has grown so much this past year. Her very presence has developed. Being good and even the best is no longer a guarantee of anything. Finding that company fit is essential and you just may not have auditioned in the right place yet. Every dancer out there has dreamed on City Ballet or ABT but good careers are experienced in much smaller companies that host truly beautiful dancers. The young dancer I mentioned in my earlier post auditioned for companies for about three years as she progressed toward her university graduation. Her tenacity paid off. Her company is smaller but respected. By the way, she's only one of two dancers I know who got jobs this year and she is at least 22.

 

By the way my DD did not audition this year. She feels that she isn't quite ready yet and has more to learn and develop. Her ego is still healthy but she now realizes that being the Queen Bee of her school wasn't enough and she's now in a program filled with hometown school Queen Bee's. The competition is stiff, even for university ballet programs.

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