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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A re-visit to "Measuring Success"


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That's correct celib. UK schools don't assess out at year 10 so they can do gcses.


The most common time to be assessed out seems to be at the end of Year 9 (age 13-14) except for royal who assess out in year 7& 8.


It is very stressful. At dds school they do their assessments now in November rather than February, hardly allowing any time to show progression really

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  • vrsfanatic


  • Momof3darlings


  • learningdance


  • Monet


I've been curious about "measuring success" for my DS, so I just read this.


Can anyone answer this question. .. Do you think that the best affiliated company schools (e.g. JKO, SAB, Houston's Ben Stevenson, PNB's School, SFB) have a better track record of employability? Not necessarily employing people into their companies but sending folks to other companies? Do you think that these schools have better connections and reputations to get their students seen?


Another person mentioned that even NYCB only hires about 5% of their own SAB students. However, I believe about 95 % of NYCB dancers are SAB graduates, which just shows how difficult it is to make it as a pro ballet dancer at NYCB.


On the contrary,I looked up PNB website and read each company dancer's bios which states where they trained. None of the principals was trained at the school, one soloist who was trained at the school just retired, and one corps member. SFB seems to have similar stats.

Miami City had more dancers who trained at their school, but not like NYCB.


It makes me wonder what makes SAB so successful in training young dancers to be ready for their

affiliated company, and not so much with others who seem to have similar models.

Yet, those are still 1 tier companies, right?

Do they simply depend on SAB to send them the good dancers who didn't make it to NYCB?


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A school associated with a company has close proximity, therefore those in the upper level of a school do have a better chance of being seen. However, there is a difference in being trained by a school and doing a few months to a year in a school. Schools such as SAB, Houston, MCB and San Francisco have set their programs up to take students trained by other schools in the final year of training. This usually occurs by students attending summer programs and being invited to attend their schools on a full time basis. In this way they are able to fill their ranks with students from their own school. It is a great marketing stategy. Rarely will you find a professional dancer who only trained in one school in the US.


We have had many students attend their final year of study in a company school. More and more, the ones who leave our school do not get jobs in said company without entering at the apprentice or trainee level. They do get jobs with other companies however. They would have gotten said jobs without having left our school.


A good example is Marcelo Gomes, who was awarded a 1 year scholarship to POB school at the Prix de Lausanne in his last year at HARID. The summer before Paris, he auditioned for ABT and received a corps contract which he turned down to go to Paris. He finished his year in Paris without receiving a contract to POB and return to the US to work for ABT. The rest is history.

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Speaking from experience with SAB. NYCB's recent hires have been at SAB for about four years, with an exception of two having been there for 8 years. NYCB does not hire from anywhere but SAB. Hence, it looks like SAB trains, grooms and finishes dancers for employment by NYCB. In addition, those who are not accepted are not faring any better than dancers from other schools in terms of employment. I think they may face more of a challenge as they are trained in Balanchine, which is unique. I also find that NYCB doesn't look for perfect technique, musicality, etc. -- they are more into the physical "look" of the dancer as well. In sum, if you have the physical look, they are more apt to turn a blind eye to other flaws regarding technique with an eye to developing those over time.


Also, SAB does a great job of attracting talented dancers from around the world as well. They offer great housing and wonderful scholarships/financial aid to boot. In addition, you are in NY, the ballet capital of the world in terms of access to incredible private training and great classes to supplement, top notch Pilates, and excellent medical care. Access to the arts to help widen your cultural horizons is also top notch, and the school supplies tickets/opportunities for dancers to attend dance and cultural events outside NYCB.


In sum, this is why SAB appears to successfully prepare students for employment, but it is not solely their ballet training responsible for a student's success. Their success sits upon the fantastic training of many other schools around the world.

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Thank you napnap. I am happy to hear SAB is doing a more thorough job of training the dancers hired by NYCB.

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Thank you vrsfanatic and nap nap.

Your feedback is insightful and multi faceted.

Very interesting, and complicated.


I'm sure those assessment done in schools in Europe could cause

anxiety, but schools in the USA are not as straight forward and upfront,

which makes it seem not transparent and confusing for parents with no

ballet background themselves. well, me.


What you, nap nap, said about the look NYBC looks for, I understand now.

When DS went to SAB for SI, all the boys in his suite looked like him! except he and only one

other boy being "of color".

And DS said, there was one boy who was obviously super good, but was

told by the faculty that the reason he was not going to be invited to stay for

the winter school is because he has a different look, or physique.


I may be going off topic here...


vrsfanatic, your comment on company affiliated schools, how they are set up to operate, helped me understand

better about my misconceptions on 'measuring success'.


I guess it's human nature to want to take credit for all one can. It's not different for ballet companies and

schools .

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Another thing about SAB is that ADs from all over come to look at the final year students and offer positions to some of them which is a wonderful advantage

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It seems that there is a network of SAB alum running companies. Robert Weiss (Carolina), Lourdes Lopez (Miami City), Peter Boal (PNB), Helgi Tomasson (SFB), Patricia McBride (Charlotte) and there are probably others.


HOWEVER, my analysis is that there is a surge in more classical ADS that would fuel other affiliations. .Julie Kent (Washington), Angel Corrella (Penn), and Gennadi Nedvigi (Atlanta Ballet). In addition, Houston's personnel just took the helm at Prix. I see these ADS as allying with the YAGP pipleline and ABT.


I guess the idea is to a) be as well trained as you possibly can. .. . cause you can control that and then b ) connect with organizations that network with ADs.


Also, we are advising our DD to try to stay flexible in her style and nimble/malleable. You can love classical, but must be able to dance Balanchine and you can love Balanchine but need to be able to throw those bent wrists and dramatic arms away if someone wants you to be more classical. You do yourself no favors by being entrenched in any one style.

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Just a reminder, there are companies all over the world dancing Balanchine with dancers who have never trained in the Balanchine Style. There are also quite a few famous Balanchine dancers who never trained in the Balanchine Style. Mr. Martins is one of those dancers.

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And VRS do you believe that it works the other way? That students trained in a more Balanchine-style can work in classical companies all over the world?

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No I do not. We have had HARID students in NYCB after a year at SAB. All became soloists or principles. Let's face it, everyone is dancing Balanchine now. Even we at HARID, perform Balanchine.

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Learning to dance - that is a great question. So my balanchine influenced dd should probably not try to audition for Harid or Ellison summer programs. She's never trained Vaganova. Early years mostly RAD trained and past 3 years more Balanchine. She is curious about Vaganova though. Not the typical ballet body type. Very tall, kind of curvy comparitively speaking.

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Those dancers do not have company contracts with SFB or Canada -- still in the upper ranks of the school. Best of luck to them!


Lady Elle - you should absolutely audition at Ellison and Harid! You would be surprised at how many SAB dancers you will see at Ellison's summer intensives!!! ;)


Great training is great training!

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So vrsfanatic, I want to clarify what you said in response to learningdance's question.

You believe classically trained dancer could work in a Balanchine style company, but a Balanchine style trained student can not work

in a classical company?


Are there two kinds of ballet school/companies? classical and Balanchine?

Does classical mean Vaganova and all other european styles?

Please feel free to direct to me to other threads concerning these, because I could not find threads on these topics.

(not that I read all the topic titles... there are so many!)


Like Lady Elle, my DS has Balanchine influenced training, and attended Balanchine style SI's.

Not by choice, but they just happened to be that, we weren't fully aware of different styles until recently.

He also just happened to take some master classes this year by a Paris Opera influenced teacher,

which he really likes.


Is "great training" that makes a dancer ready for classical or Balanchine attainable by staying in a Balanchine style

school, with classical SI's, or does one need to go to a year-round classical school at some point?

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