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Ballet Talk for Dancers

A Cautionary Tale


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So many dancers are being trained in part-time studios and through colleges that are registered training organisations, offering accredited programs. The passion and interest in dance is fantastic. Dance has become more inclusive and less elite, with wide-ranging participation. However, we need to question what becomes of these young hopefuls after graduation. They emerge having been trained by experts and prepared thoroughly for the industry – there is no doubting the sincerity of most training programs. The fact is that there are so few jobs. Yet implicit in the recruitment of students to full-time training is that dance is a viable career option. Yet, in classical ballet, it has always been the case that only a tiny elite ever find employment in a company. With the vast majority of those graduates being female, they are particularly vulnerable in an industry that relies on low-paid or unpaid labour.


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"It also became clear that few Emerging Artists would ever be promoted beyond this rank. In one case a dancer performed leading roles for more than a year, yet was denied promotion to Junior Artist."

Non diclosure clauses prevented comparisons of pay. . . 

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I agree with you learningdance!!!

Terrifying and sad.  And yes I know kids who have spent long years training and postponed college to dance for the price of pointe shoes per show at a small but reputable company.  As in these girls would earn just enough to replace the shoes they wore for the show! 

The Herculean, massive, monumental effort and sacrifice to try to be a professional ballerina just usually doesn't "pay off" into a career in which one can support oneself and be independent as we all know too well :(.  Once when I was dropping my DD off at HB SI awhile ago I just remember the numbers of hopefuls of eager young dancers piling into that program being dropped off that day (I think 90 in my DD's level alone), then multiply that by the number of other SIs across the US, then the world....ack!

It hurts my head, but thank you for sharing this!


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Yes, definitely a cautionary tale.  

Unpaid or poorly paid internships with no clear contractual boundaries are a problem across many professions. 

Ballet is a strange world indeed.  So much time and money being spent by so many - yet so few jobs available post-training.  In my family we avoid getting on planes to pursue more experience and more exposure opportunities. At some point  we will feel that it is time to 'go for it' but in the meantime we keep our powder dry (cliche land).

So much temptation!  We just can't afford it and don't want to pay on a credit card.  It is a 'teaching moment' I guess when explaining your reasoning to your DD or DS.

Edited by balletfan
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