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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Choices: Decision to make


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Let me just start out saying the good thing is by DD has a choice to make. The bad thing my DD has a choice to make!


I would like to get some opinions from you.


My oldest DD has been offered two options this summer with possible employment after attending the mandatory 5 week intensives.


Option 1: Through a company audition she was invited to their SI for more observation. She felt really good about this audition and could tell they were interested but they did not talk to her afterwards (not really sure if they talked with anyone afterwards though). This company is young but has been impressive with their progress. They pay per performance, monthly honorariums, shoes and possible teaching opportunities within the attached school. DD sent an email asking if she could attend one week and still be considered because she would be attending another SI that required attending the full 5 weeks and it would conflict. They just responded yesterday offering a partial scholarship to attend the full 5 week intensive.


Option 2: Through a second company class audition she was invited for summer to be considered for a second company position but probably the training division because of her age (just turned 19). DD felt good about the class and felt she was comparable to others in the room (already in this 2nd company). The AD did not teach the class and I would assume he would be making the offer at the end of summer. This company is more established and larger but probably harder to get into but would be DD first choice given she would be offered a second company position.


I’m leaning toward option 1 but I don’t know much about the company and I really hate she has to put all her eggs in one basket and could be left with nothing at the end of summer. Ultimately it is her decision. She will be consulting with a couple of her current teachers to get their opinion also.



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I would be a little more open to option 1 if they had offered her a full scholarship. Option 2 is looking a bit better to me, especially because it is a more established company. I'm not thrilled with the idea of paid per performance type companies.

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I believe I agree with Ms. Leigh but have a couple of questions that you can either answer on here or just in your own mind.


You didn't mention what position was up for negotiation after the summer at Option 1, so it's hard to determine whether the options there are better than the option of 2nd company at a larger company. Also, I was unclear if the company itself is pay per performance or just the Trainee/2nd company was pay for performance at Option 1.


I would look at the two companies and see how comparable you feel the environment/training level would be for her. The goal should always be to elevate the dancer to be ready for the next step all while hoping they get to stay where they are. So which place would put her in a better position one or even two years from now if she does not gain or retain her contract there?


Don't forget to throw into the mix your ability to help out. It sounds like one, she could potentially be able to support herself at least partially next year and the other, she may not be able to do so yet even though long term it may be a better solution.


It's also important to throw into the mix in pay per performance situations if every dancer is used for every performance. And if dancers are compensated for class time in some way. I'm assuming this is your monthly honorarium. If not, then how much time are they expected to be "on the clock" without payment.

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I also agree with the comments regarding the scholarship. If a company is truly interested I would think a full scholarship would be offered. It may not include room and board since those are actual dollars out of pocket for the company but tuition, yes. You didn't mention if a scholarship was involved in option 2. Is there one?


Playing out the relationship and how it progresses long term is sound advice from Momof3. I realize getting in the door is the hardest part but if the door leads to a closet, it isn't worth much. I would look into where the trainees/2nd company artists have ended up after their time with the program. If they are not placed with the company they are attached to, do they assist the students with finding contracts other places. A more established program with solid results would be my choice.

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Thanks all. I'm at work now and I will get back with you to answer questions this evening but this input is great and haven't thought of the things you mentioned.

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I understand about what you are saying about the scholarship but do you truly measure interest with the amount of scholarship you are given? If this is the case then we need to throw in the towel now. DD has never been given a full tuituion scholarship anywhere unless we count the year we were unemployed and were given merit/financial scholarship. Option 2 did not offer a scholarship and it does concern me they told her she would probably be considered for the Training program which takes us back to this year.


It seems to me if you are employeed the closer others will "look at you". I know this happened when DH was unemployeed. He had to take something that maybe wasn't the most attractive job but it helped pay the bills. Once he was employeed then when was looking for a new job he got more interviews. I have seen this also and I think this is applicable in the dance world too. DD is petitte and has not made it past barre in some auditions. She has not had too many options and has really just started getting her confidence back. Her current traing program loves her but they have even said to me "if she was just 5 inches taller". I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm worried option 2 just sees a good dancer who they can get in their program and pay more money and then dump her after two years. I'm not really sure of their track record as far as aiding in finding contracts for those who they cannot bring into the company. Their company dancers do seem to come through the program though.


Thanks again for your input. I know in the end it will all work out the way it is supposed to.

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viccarmom, I feel as you do about the scholarships. DD has had a few over the years, some very small, some larger, one nearly full, and then some trainee/apprentice/second company year-round programs in which no one at that level pays tuition, so it was a scholarship in a sense, but for everyone at that level. If she had quit in the early years when none were offered, or had made decisions based on that alone, she wouldn't be dancing now. I think it's important to find out, if possible, how each company handles scholarships before basing decisions largely on that, unless finances make it necessary and that is the main factor in the decision.

Some companies give out full scholarships to a few, even with travel and spending money. In those cases, it seems to be a clear indication of interest. Other companies prefer to give many small scholarships to more people. Some companies simply do not give any summer intensive scholarships at all to the level that leads to second company; they seem to view one's payment as an investment and indicator of your interest in them.

I know how tough these decisions are, when it's like comparing apples to oranges. I respect all of the opinions given above; it's just that we have seen it work out in a variety of ways for ourselves and others. Good luck with this decision, and congrats on having the options.

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I don't believe the comments about correlation of amount of scholarship versus interest was made in a general nature of discussing employment. I read the comments to be addressed for this particular situation given the qualifiers listed in the original post. I would believe you would take all the many things to consider including the amount of scholarship funding and put them in the pot of decision making to stir. Scholarship money is just one of the things you throw in the pot. But one consideration definitely should be if you are having to pay to gain a chance at a company who will then not pay her.

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As the mom of a dancer who had tough decisions to make last season, I would say that the fact that the first company "sweetened the pot" at the prospect of your DD going somewhere else is a pretty strong indicator of interest.

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and I really hate she has to put all her eggs in one basket and could be left with nothing at the end of summer.


What is Plan B if she were to be left with nothing at the end of the summer? Are you OK with paying for an SI, knowing that that is a possibility? What is your daughter's minimal goal as a dancer that, someday, she could look back and say, "I least I did... (such-n-such)."


For Option 2, you said, "DD felt good about the class and felt she was comparable to others in the room (already in this 2nd company)." What about height-wise? Does this company employ any other petite, muscular dancers?


In my daughter's professional experience, body type edges out all other considerations (many auditions start with just "typing"), followed closely, of course, by technique. Having professional credits on your resume is only looked at after a dancer has made it further along in the audition. Therefore, I think your daughter needs to choose based on her realistic prospects as a petite and muscular dancer. Is Option #2 the same audition where she was placed in the second-highest level, which is the same decision her roommate got, who did not perform as well? If so, I believe that tells you something. (And, even if that was a different audition, it tells your DD something. All auditions inform a dancer about themselves.)


Has your daughter considered other styles of dance? It sounds as though she might make a good aerial dancer. And they get paid well, too.

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Option 2 is not the same company my DD auditioned for with her roommate. And DD asked after this audition was there a height requirement and the one conducting the class and over the 2nd company said that their company is on the short side right now. I have to say Option 2 on paper looks better but I have to take into consideration, the competitiveness and likelihood of her ever getting in this company. After talking with her teacher today (one who has trained her most but not current) and others that know her well feel Option 1 would be best for now. DD has talked a little with her current teacher and she is going to think about it and do a little research.


As far as plan B is concerned, we did discuss some options before any of these current options were in the picture we will cross that bridge when it gets here.


Thank you all for your comments.

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