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August 15, 2019 in Pre-professional Schools General Discussion
I think any ballet school truly in the business of producing professional dancers should be providing career guidance.
I do think this is a very important question to ask of a school and one that may not be asked in quite this manner, but it should be.
And yes, I know of ballet schools and, specifically, trainee programs at schools and companies (generally company affiliated schools) that do provide at least some assistance with this process.
Just a couple of thoughts--
I'm not sure that the placement assistance that programs promise is always what they are actually able to do.
If you think about the type of labor needed to shepherd just one student through the process of searching for a dance job (pictures, filming and editing videos, curriculum vitae, establishing Youtube accounts, researching companies, choosing companies, cover letters, submissions of applications, audition preparation, audition travel, follow-ups, negotiating offers, etc.), very few programs have the time or person power to assist fully every student they teach. The crunch time for preparing for job searches also coincides with Nutcracker season and school breaks, which makes coordinated placement assistance even more difficult.
From what I have seen, most dancers rely on a village (sorry for the cliche); they get advice from peers, recent graduates, parents, current and past mentors, this forum, they hire their own photographers and videographers, and they do a ton of the legwork and research themselves. My dancer has enjoyed c.v. and cover letter workshops and meetings to discuss target companies, and he has been at trainee programs that brought in some A.D.s to scope out graduating dancers. It was wonderful to have a teacher he could consult when he had hard decisions to make. These initiatives and acts of generosity were all appreciated, but they were just a small part of the whole job search process. There were many, many other steps that the dancer had to take on his/her own.
Anyway, what kind of help was really helpful? I would not pick a training program just because they promised a c.v. workshop. If you hear about mentors who offer personalized advice to all students, that's always a plus, but your dancer should still expect to do most of the work him/herself. If you see a training program listed in the bios of a lot of recent professional hires, that's also evidence of someone's placement initiative, though it might be dancers' initiative as much as their training program's. Another big plus is when pre-professional programs bring in A.D.s and host company auditions, though it's only a plus if your dancer is interested in those particular companies.
It is interesting to hear what different programs offer, but I would not get caught up in small differences in their publicity materials. I hope you get some responses from people who can share the real practices, though I would not be surprised if folks don't want to name specific programs. I bet you will get even more responses from folks whose dancers did a lot of the placement work themselves and who sought and found guidance from a lot of different sources.
I agree that a dancer must be self motivated in the process.
The audition process involves a lot of travel time and time away from the studio. It is a plus if a program is supportive of that. Company class invites rarely occur on a weekend in dd's experience. Larger open auditions are often on weekends, but not always. It was helpful to be at a trainee program that was supportive for her absences and did not hold them against her (for the most part).
Excellent point about looking for programs that are supportive of audition trips! Not all of them are.
Information regarding individual programs should be posted on . . .the dedicated threads for the individual programs. After all, that IS what those dedicated threads are for—to help folks research and understand the programs and what they offer/provide. If you have a specific question regarding what help is given for those students ready to begin auditioning for professional contracts, that is where the information would be found here. I know over the years folks have asked those type questions and received helpful answers from the members who have had first-hand experience with the program. Look not only in the PrePro Schools/Residential Forum, but also the Post-grad Program Forum and the Trainee, Apprentice Forum dedicated threads.
Yes, it may take a bit more personal time to review the dedicated threads for that information, but it will take even more time to repeat and re-invent this wheel every year or so. We have had these questions many times, so there are probably general issue threads in existence.
THIS thread can continue to serve as a general issue thread regarding what things to desire, look for, consider, expect, put in perspective, etc.
I agree that preprofessional training, even before the trainee level, needs to provide some measure of personalized guidance and advice to aspiring dancers. Programs that provide evaluations/conferences can include helpful hints and referrals.
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