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Mariana

What should I take in count before accepting contract?

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Mariana

Hello there!

First time on this forum. I have found great information so far. I'm a 20-years old dancer from Costa Rica (yes, ballet isn't that popular here, no companies at all but I have been dancing since I have 3).

Now I'm planning to go to some countries (USA and Canada) to do audition for companies. I know as an international dancer it will be hard because of visa requirements some companies don't even bother to take but still if I get a contract offer, what should I have in mind before saying yes? Insurance, cost of living, PT services, length of the contract? Also, when does seasons usually starts? I'm currently working at a call center to pay my trip so I would like to know when should I start getting ready if I get accepted?

Would love to hear experiences or suggestions about auditioning for companies.

Thanks in advance!

Edited by Mariana
Missing question

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Clara 76

Welcome!

Some of what I might say is simply because I haven't seen you dance and I don't know anything about your training.

I'm sure you watch ballet videos all the time. Unless you are a phenom with an internet presence and many thousands of Instagram followers, here in the US, your first foray into company life will likely be as a Trainee, where you will have to pay for your training, or, they may want you to spend some years in their affiliated school before considering you for a professional contract. 

This means that you will have to support yourself while you are here, and jobs that will work around ballet life are few and far between. To save you some time and money- start by doing some proper videos of yourself, and emailing the links to school directors of the companies that you are interested in. You will at least, get your video looked at, and if you are a phenom, well, it will likely get pushed up the chain.

I don't want to spoil your dream, BUT, America is built on the Disney mentality, so by now you have to have already developed a thick skin, a whole lot of moxie, a guaranteed way to support yourself around your ballet life, and a passion so strong that nothing (at least nothing immoral or unethical) will stop you. 

If you send out some links to your dancing, and you get back some interest, you will at least then know where to focus your research into the cities and companies so that you can make an informed decision. 

Good luck!

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lakemom

I am sad to hear that, unless you are a phenom with a large internet presence and thousands of followers, you are unlikely to join a company in higher than a trainee role.  

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Clara 76

lakemom-

If we all know how hard it is to get a contract in the US with US training, imagine how much harder it is to do so when coming from a country without excellent training and access to Summer Intensives? A dancer such as Mariana might be placing the cart before the horse, unless her training and number of hours of work in classical ballet has been at least on par with US training. My response to her was only speaking to her unique situation.

 

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Sugarmama

I am not sure that a large internet presence or number of followers actually have much to do with it.  I see a growing trend of companies "hiring" dancers to multi-year (some paid stipends but mostly unpaid) second company/trainee/apprentice positions, even those who have already completed college.  Great technique, artistry and being at the right place at the right time is the combination you want, but I think it is getting more and more rare that a dancer can finish training at 18 and land a full company position.   Like Clara76 says they often want to see a dancer in their environment (school or some trainee situation) before offering a contract. 

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99carrots

If you really want to try to do this, I think you should go for it.  You never know what will happen - if you have the means to take this risk, why forego it?

Although it may be true that a significant social media following could make you more appealing to a company (popularity, advertising, relevance), it really depends on what company you are looking at.  Only a small percentage of dancers in companies have significant social media influence, most tending to be of higher ranks, with the occasional exception of those dancers who also specialize in "foody" posts or workout/fitness related ideas.  Look at ABT; the only dancers who really have a large presence are the principals, select soloists, and select corps members.  Not all of them are "Insta-famous."  In addition, what about all of the smaller companies that pay dancers a livable wage, yet have hardly any social media presence?  Even further, if you were to look at the Dance Magazine "Top 25 to Watch" articles, I would bet that not ALL of them have a strong social media following/presence.  

It is definitely true that you would most likely be accepted as a trainee upon first entering a company, and you will most likely need a side job, but by no means is social media presence a MUST for succeeding as a dancer.   

Of course, the US has a massive classical ballet scene that is so very competitive, so do prepare yourself (mentally, and life plan-wise) for the worst, as this career choice is unpredictable, but I encourage you to not let social media intimidate you - it really is not that big of a deal.  

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Mariana
24 minutes ago, lakemom said:

I am sad to hear that, unless you are a phenom with a large internet presence and thousands of followers, you are unlikely to join a company in higher than a trainee role.  

Yeah, I am aware of the whole situation with social media and to be honest I don't like it at all. I don't want to have a lot of followers just to get in higher position in a company, but it would be even more awful to know if a company gives you what you are working for only if you have this amount of attention on social media. I know there are dancers who have a lot of followers but it's because they genuinely want to show their work to the world and not because pretending to be influencers (that at the end are spreading a not so healthy relationship with your body and mind)

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lakemom

Don't compromise your beliefs,  just believe in yourself and your dancing.   I think you can definitely tell the difference between dancers who are genuine in sharing their art, and those who are trying much too hard to be influencers - I would hope that companies would be discerning.   Best of luck to you as you audition in Canada and the US; I hope you reach your goals!!

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DanceMumNYC

Mariana, it is currently audition season. Here is a list of company auditions throughout the USA: https://www.pointemagazine.com/ballet-auditions-2412832891.html

Also, Sugarmama said something that stuck out to me...Why is it now more rare for a dancer to complete training and get a company contract at 18? Does this speak to the current quality of training, or is it more of a supply/demand issue (too many dancers/too few jobs)? 

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Mariana
11 minutes ago, Clara 76 said:

lakemom-

If we all know how hard it is to get a contract in the US with US training, imagine how much harder it is to do so when coming from a country without excellent training and access to Summer Intensives? A dancer such as Mariana might be placing the cart before the horse, unless her training and number of hours of work in classical ballet has been at least on par with US training. My response to her was only speaking to her unique situation.

 

I totally understand what you mean but I'm glad to say I have work hard with every opportunity I have had and I feel like this have brought something else to my dancing. With no means to offense but a girl or a boy who have been given all kinds of opportunities and find so easy to go to a Summer Intensive or plan a whole Auditions trip to Europe, with little effort made by themselves will have a different perspective about life itself.

I have been lucky enough to have as a teacher dancers from Rusia, Bulgaria and Spain and I have attended Summer Intensives but I won't  deny the fact that the hours someone in the US has spent training, I have had to spending working to get money. I still have hopes (maybe not in the US because I'd rather go to other countries) because I know costaricans that are the Washington Ballet Studio Company and at Ruse State Opera but yeah, it worth the try, right? :)

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Clara 76

Having that information is helpful, Mariana. What have your amazing teachers suggested that you do? Have they suggested that you ought to book a trip and take the chance, or have they suggested that you send videos to gauge which companies might be most interested in you?

Where have you attended SIs? What company? What has your feedback been from those experiences?

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lakemom

Mariana - Absolutely!!  💙

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Mariana

DancemumNYC,

Thanks so much for the link. I will check it out for sure. Wow, this is a really nice highlight about the topic! I guess this is why I feel so old with 20 already haha but in general, I do feel like there is a general rush in the air about this but I would like to know also what's the percentages of girls who really stick to this profession when they join at such a early age. Let's mention Miko Fogarty who is an excellent dancer and decided to finish her carrer after like 1 or 2 years at an English company

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Clara 76

Mariana- can you please answer my questions? It will help in how we offer our advice!

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Mariana

Lakemom,

Thanks so much! Fingers crossed :) I do have a feeling that I will get a possitive outcome, not necessarily getting into a company right after auditioning but for sure I will learn. An opportunity to grow

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