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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Importance of Repetoire Experience and Stage Time


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·        My daughter attends a ballet school attached to a professional company, so there are not any opportunities for the students to be involved in full length ballets where the students can be cast in all of the roles.  In the productions the students are able to be in with the company dancers, i.e. Nutcracker, the rolls that are available are minimal, especially as the students get into the higher levels of the program - the roles for older dancers are usually reserved for company members, 2nd company members, or trainees.  So, once past Clara age, there is no hope for an Academy student to be a Sugar Plum Fairy, or any other lead role for that matter.  Is it important for dancers aged 14  through being accepted as trainees or hired by a company to receive more and more numbers  of roles of greater length and difficulty in order to build stamina and experience for the numbers of performances they will need to be able to do when hired into a company?  Or is focusing on strength and technique while in classes with very little in the way of stage time sufficient to prepare her?  And, along those lines, is it important for students to be able build their repertoire of classical roles they have danced?

Edited by Emsdancemama
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What other performing opportunities does the student have?  Are there student-only performances that give them the opportunity to hone their performing skills?  I think that is what's important.  It doesn't have to be in a lead role or part of the company rep.  A dancer's training, particularly by mid-teens, should have a performing component because there are no barres on the stage.  A skilled technician in the classroom doesn't always translate to a moving performer on the stage.  The dancer who shines on stage with that special something will win out over the technician who is classroom-perfect but lacks presence.  

I would say not to worry about building a repertoire of classical roles.  Dancers come from all sorts of training backgrounds and experiences.  When it comes to auditions, either later for companies or sooner for trainee / year-round type programs, it's the dancer in from of them that matters.  The list of roles on a resume is secondary, if that.  

If the dancer doesn't get much performing during the year, maybe look for summer programs that offer that opportunity.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thank you for your reply, mom2two!  My daughter has an end of year student-only show when there is a piece performed for most of her classes.  There are also occasional community performances throughout the year, so my daughter might be in (there are 2 casts) a piece or two maybe once a month or so.  She will also be competing at YAGP and ADC this year.  She does summer intensives each summer - there are always showcases, but she is usually in 2 pieces with her level as they are, of course, not full length ballets.  I see her same level peers at other schools performing multiple roles in different, full length ballets each year - sometimes two a year - and wasn't sure how important that is for their training in the upper teen years.  Thank you again.  :)

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