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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Auditions: Video vs. Cattle Calls


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My dd has a job with a small company & will be auditioning this upcoming season to try & move up to a larger one. She now has some very nice video from performances. She tends to come alive on the stage & looks much better there than she does in class or at auditions. Is it a good idea to skip all cattle calls & rely solely on video auditions with hopes for invitations to company class? Of course, she’d then have the problem of not looking as great in class as she did on the video, but at least they’d already have their first impression from the video. Thoughts?

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DD and I were discussing this just yesterday. Her results from videos were better in my opinion than those from cattle calls. From cattle calls, she mainly amassed a collection of SI invitations for "additional evaluation" for anything from tuition based programs to paid positions.  Some of those came with partial or full tuition scholarships, and a few with none. My preference is for DD to send videos only and bypass the cattle calls if she needs to audition this season. 

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Thank you very much, MGA. I greatly appreciate your input. I’d also love the opinions of some of the moderators. 🙂

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While it is great that your DD comes alive on stage, remember that the performance is the culmination of 4 - 6 weeks of work in the studio.  Part of an audition process is not only seeing the technical level of the dancer(s), but to also see how they are in a studio setting: 

Does the dancer learn quickly/slowly?
Does the dancer make eye contact and have a general sense of confidence, or will the dance shy away and rely on others?
How does the dancer deal with stress?
Do they follow directions (filling out applications properly, line up at the barre/center properly, apply corrections given in class, etc.)?
How does the dancer use space - do they run into others, do they dance small/big? 

This is why auditions happen in a class setting... and yes, attempting to audition in a company class setting makes ticking through these questions more individual/independent.  But if you are hoping that the performance quality will tip the AD over the edge of hire vs not, I wouldn't count on that (for the reason stated in my first sentence).

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Your feedback is excellent, very well stated, and very much appreciated, GTLS! 👍 Yes, she will ultimately have to audition in a class. Please, may I have your opinion on video auditions vs. cattle calls? She does have a job now and is very busy with rehearsals, performances, and teaching. Attending cattle-calls will be a hardship. Are they worth that hardship, or are video auditions an effective and perhaps even preferable alternative? 

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As with all things... the answer is: it depends.

Since she has a job, attending cattle calls is probably counter to rehearsal schedules & performances.  If this is true, then yes, audition via video.  But if she is available to attend in person (without missing work), then she should do that.

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I don't know that answer to your question rosetwirl but I wonder how many dancers are hired from cattle calls?  Has anyone had a child employed or even in a fully costless program via cattle calls.  It just strikes me as such a long shot. Better to spend money going to a company class where there is at least an expressed interest? 

I guess I also wonder about how to get to the company class.  Isn't it more typical for a school director to call an AD and get the student's foot in the door? 

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Yes, as GTLS Designs has stated, it depends.  She just needs to do the best she can with the time and resources she has.  Ideally, she will want whatever method she uses to net her a company class audition time.  Most will want to see how someone fits in and this is the only way that can be done.  Very rarely is someone offered anything these days without that invite to come to class.  

Learningdance-you get to company class through videos or auditions most times.  Yes, a teacher may call, but most will make that call to be sure the package that is being sent or has been sent gets to the right person who will then really take a good look.  

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Many thanks to all of you for your input. 🙂❤️👍

Last audition season, dd received three invitations to take company classes as a result of video auditions she submitted. No one made calls on her behalf. One of those classes resulted in a job offer. She received nothing, except si invitations, from the cattle-calls she attended. We had just about decided that she’d skip the cattle-calls altogether this season, but I thought I’d ask my question here on BT first. Based on your responses, she will attend the cattle-calls that occur on her days off and are within a reasonable driving distance for someone who must be back to work the next day. The vast majority of her auditions will be via video. I’ll report back in a few months as to how that went. 😉

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  • 1 year later...

I had forgotten to report on last year’s (2018) audition strategy as I had promised! Again, dd received nothing from the few cattle calls she attended. Audition videos were much more fruitful. She received seven invitations to audition in company classes. She attended five of those. Alas, no offers were forthcoming. She did receive a phone call from the director of a company offering her a scholarship for their summer intensive to be considered for (unpaid except for shoes) apprentice. She accepted that offer and was offered an apprenticeship at the end of the summer, which she accepted.

Fast forward to the present (spring 2019), and dd is again in search of a new position. This time she attended only three cattle call auditions and sent out numerous video auditions. She received four invitations to audition in company classes, but (PAYDIRT!) she was also offered a (modestly) paid apprenticeship based on her video alone! (I had mentioned above that Dd comes alive on the stage, and her video was all from performances.) This is for a very nice small regional company for whom she’d be proud to dance. She is going to travel there and take class anyway to check it out before she accepts,  (She’s learned the hard way that a poor fit with a company does not lead to fulfillment.) but it’s looking very promising. 

My conclusion based on dd’s experiences so far is that video auditions are far superior to cattle calls as an audition method, especially for a dancer who looks much better on stage than she looks in class or at auditions, which is a serious handicap! I suppose it’s better though than not looking good on stage! 

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rosetwirl - Congratulations on your daughter's paid apprenticeship!  And I couldn't agree more about avoiding the cattle call auditions whenever possible.

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