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RDA choreography


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I danced with an RDA company during my training and now, after my professional performing career, I'd like to get involved choreographing for some RDA companies. I have some choreographic experience from college and an emerging choreographer showcase for a professional company. How do I approach RDA companies? I'm not sure what's usual or expected by directors in terms of a letter of introduction, resume, portfolio etc. Is it presumptuous to just send these materials to directors I don't know personally? What should I include in a portfolio or expect from directors? Any insight would be very helpful. Thanks!

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You can take a couple of different routes to establish contact with RDA directors. One, attend a festival as an observer and introduce yourself and network. Bring your sample DVD, resume etc and make connections. Next year there will be a National Festival with all of the 90 RDA companies in attendance. It will be held May 1-5, 2012 in Montreal. This would be a great time to promote your choreography and yourself!


Two, attend RDA's summer Choreography Intensive. This is a 2 week workshop of established and emerging choreographers. They accept 5 outside choreographers each summer. You can get additional information on this program at the RDA website. RDA Choreography Intensive


Three, as a RDA director I do receive letters of interest from freelance choreographers interested in working with my company. They usually include a resume and a DVD sample of the choreographer's work. I suggest you start with companies in close proximity or ones that you may have a mutual acquaintance. The company where you trained would be a good place to start!


Good luck!

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Thank you so much! All of these ideas are great; it helps to know where to start :)

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  • 5 months later...

I realize that RDA choreography will start at different times for companies in different areas, since adjudication schedules differ across the country, but, in general, how far in advance does the average RDA company begin choreographing and rehearsing their numbers for adjudication?


During Nutcracker time, do the companies continue to rehearse their company and RDA numbers, or does Nutcracker consume every minute like it seems to do ours?

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Every company will be different. In our former studio, we generally would learn one, sometimes two pieces in the summer when we could bring in someone who might otherwise be unavailable to choreograph. They would be rehearsed for memory along the way with small sections being worked on for clarity each week during the year but not a full rehearsal of it until all the Nutz choreography was set. Once the Nutz choreography was set, we could alternate a bit better. One year, when a former studio member came to set a piece, we learned it on the days after Christmas but before New Year's. Simply because it gave her a way to come home from Seattle for a week and work at the same time. That year, you just had to say if you were available prior to auditions for the piece. But given who was setting it and what piece it was, everyone wanted to be in it and worked it out to be there.


Other pieces would be choreographed in several weekend sessions over time when a local choreographer was brought in. They also sometimes booked working company members during any layoff weeks they might have had. We also always had alot of studio members creating Emerging choreography so those generally worked right up to adjudication.


In general, we did work all year long, even during Nutz on a rotating basis. But our rehearsal schedule included Saturday and Sunday. So the youth cast and those parts were rehearsed more on Saturday with sporadic scheduling of the older kids on Saturday as the need arose. But Sunday was generally rehearsal for the older kids. So we alternated which went first, Nutz then RDA or RDA then Nutz. Company class was held both days so you had that no matter when you had to attend. It had to be done during Nutz for us because Adjudication could be anywhere from Feb-March.

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I'm really starting to be concerned, because our adjudication is the 3rd week of January and the company has not had so much as an 8 count of RDA choreography done yet. The girls (and by extension the parents) can probably forget about Christmas vacation, because there is absolutely no other time when it could be done.

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So let me get this straight? You think you will be asked to work during Christmas vacation and you don't know yet? Is this common for you? This would not have been common for us. The one time we did that (as outlined above) was simply how the process worked because we had to apply to the Balanchine Trust, send in the required info, wait for the approval and then in our case apply to request a specific repiteur who was also a studio alum and wait on that approval. In years prior or after, we didn't use Christmas break. In our case, we knew in September that if everything fell into place we would rehearse over Christmas for those in that specific piece.

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So let me get this straight? You think you will be asked to work during Christmas vacation and you don't know yet? Is this common for you?


LOL. I can't think of anything that is "common" for our company. Part of my exasperation is that we never know what to expect, because the only that is consistent, is inconsistency. And no, we have not been told that we will be rehearsing over the Christmas break, but I simply cannot see how they won't be. The company girls have not rehearsed anything except Nutcracker pieces, which they will be doing for at least two more weeks, which will leave one month before our adjudication date. All the parents are starting to "bite their nails" because we are getting nervous about the lack of progress for RDA, but this is a really bad time of year to try to speak to the director. Since we haven't been an RDA company for very long, we are still trying to determine what is considered "normal" and what isn't. Some of the parents have suggested amongst ourselves that we should tell the director that we want to pass on the festival this year, because we just can't see how the girls can possibly be prepared in time.

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Cakers, since it is a National Festival this year.... it could be possible that the AD is planning on resubmitting the pieces that you adjudicated last year? That would mean resetting choreography, instead of starting from scratch? And since it is a new adjudicator, with a new festival, a new set of eyes might select one piece over another?

Of course, I don't know.... I just trying to give you a positive spin on the situation.

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You're right GTLS. I'd forgotten this was a National's year. That is highly possible cakers, Nationals provides some different aspects to the adjudication process. I am a bit concerned that you know nothing though. Part of that concern is that this would not have "flied" where DD trained. People traveled over holidays there and not to necessarily just see family. Christmas holidays were used for extensive travel due to so many parents being employed by the airlines and having access to discounted or free flights. Holiday rehearsals would have never been accomplished on such short notice. But given what GTLS has mentioned, possibly you're taking the cart before the horse? In this case, just ask her/him.

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My previous studio was similar to Momof3darlings - at the end of summer (usually the last week of August), the senior company would spend one week on a piece for festival. Sometimes there would be a guest choreographer, other times it was just the resident choreographer. Then would come Nut rehearsals from Sept to Dec, with maybe a run-through of the festival piece once a week. Sometimes portions of the senior week in August would also be used for Nut rehearsals - for large corps numbers like Snow or Waltz. The Nut cast list wouldn't be posted yet so all the girls would work on the choreography and whomever would later be named as Clara would then be replaced by an understudy when Nut rehearsals actually begin.


In between Christmas and New Year's, there would be another three days for RDA pieces or the repertory show - either a new piece, an old piece, an emerging piece, whatever needed lots of rehearsal time (or an outside choreographer/ballet master to set the choreography). If a dancer had vacation planned, they usually were left out of the piece that was being set during those days (unless the director really needed that dancer to be in the piece). These rehearsal days are pre-set at the opening meeting so you would just have to schedule vacation around it - although the cast list wouldn't be published until right before Nutcracker performances. It would stink not to know whether or not you have to rehearse during winter break, with such short notice.


I remember one year, we learned a piece during the MLK long weekend (it was a re-work of a previously choreographed piece, but involved mostly new dancers and the choreography was basically re-done) and our repertory show was around the 2nd weekend in March. I can't remember when the adjudication was (maybe mid February?) so that was a pretty short rehearsal period.

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Based on what little information we've been given, we are not re-working any prior pieces. We have been told the company will be learning two new pieces, and while the choreographers have been named, there has been not a single rehearsal other than Nutcracker pieces. Mind you, the company auditions were in June, but since so many company members go away to summer intensives, there are no mandatory company rehearsals during the summer at all, and then once the new school session begins, it's all Nutcracker, Nutcracker, Nutcracker. Almost 6 months since auditions and not one company rehearsal (other than Nutcracker pieces). To me, that's not reasonable, but hey, what do I know?

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Cakers, the issue that you are having is not RDA's fault, but the Artistic Director of your school/company. This should be discussed directly with the Artistic Direction. If you feel that they are unapproachable, then I'd look into moving to a new studio. Yes, Nutcracker is very stressful for the teachers & dancers involved with Nutcracker, but that does not mean that someone shouldn't have an eye out for the future.


I personally attended RDA's first National Festival in 1997 which was held in Houston, TX. It was a WONDERFUL experience! I loved being able to watch regional ballet companies from all of the nation - it really gave me an idea of where my technique stood as compared to other dancers my age.... and it also showed me how good my training actually was (very good, btw). Multiple Artistic Directors from large professional ballet companies were present, and lots of dancers received offers/contracts during the festival.


If your Artistic Directors do not see the benefit to this festival, and are not putting enough energy into preparing their dancers, that is not a good thing. Please do not consider this to be RDA's fault.... they set out the guidelines... then it is up to your Artistic Direction to follow through.

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cakers - I would just suggest asking your Artistic Director. If you don't feel comfortable talking to your AD, is there an assistant director or a senior dancer that you could ask? The uncertainty would drive me crazy but I was never really comfortable talking with my AD (she was unintentionally intimidating!) - so I would usually talk to the associate/assistant director instead and they would either know the answer or talk to the AD.


I also attended the national festival in '97 (Houston) and the one in Pittsburgh ('05?). It was a treat to see dancers from all around the country.

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Cakers, the issue that you are having is not RDA's fault, but the Artistic Director of your school/company.


I never said this issue was RDA's fault. I posted my question because I don't know what the "norm" is among RDA companies as to when they begin their company choreography and how long they rehearse it prior to adjudication. Before I approached the AD I wanted to see if I was unduly worried and see if people in the know thought that 4 weeks (which is what we'll be left with after Nutcracker is done) is adequate time to prepare for adjudication starting from scratch. I don't, but as I said before, what do I know?

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