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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Dance careers in time of COVID19


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My d is going to be a senior in h.s. this fall and would like to dance professionally, but with the current state of the arts we are looking at college as a backup. Should we only consider colleges in major cities where she could keep auditioning for a company? She would be willing to leave school for a chance to dance professionally. She would consider a place at a second company, but with the economy tanked, I don't know if those positions will exist. Any suggestions?

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Welcome Marzipandreams, Please do make your way over to the Welcome forum and introduce yourself so that we may get to know a bit more about you, your dancer and her training up to this point.

As for your question, well that is a tough one. First I would say that landing a job fresh out of high school is less common than it used to be. Most dancers attend a post high school program. Most of these programs are the top tier of a school, but some are the bottom level of a company. Position names vary; trainee, graduate student, professional division, etc. I would suggest that she look at companies that she is interested in and do some research. For many the first step is to be accepted by the school into that top level of training. If you go to the Home tab you can scroll through the list of forums here and find the Post Grad/Company School Training Options to learn more about programs that she may be interested in  https://dancers.invisionzone.com/forum/170-post-gradcompany-school-training-options/   

If your daughter is interested in pursuing dance in college, there is a forum called Colleges/Universities with Ballet Programs where you can research different programs and read first hand experiences. https://dancers.invisionzone.com/forum/148-collegesuniversities-with-ballet-programs-or-dance-programs-offering-ballet-classes/

As far as current state of hiring and the economy in the arts sector, I don't know that many of us can accurately predict the future. My best guess is that jobs will be few and far between in the next few years but I am hopeful that someone who knows better than me will come along and contribute to this conversation!

Again, welcome!

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Yes.  Second company places still exist.  In fact, many of them are "cheaper" for the company, since they do not pay as well or have the same benefits as corp positions.  Likewise with the various other "layers" before company membership (trainee, apprentice, etc.).  Also, there have been some retirements of company dancers during Covid, and the performance schedule is still up in the air (some companies are considering running their performance schedule into summer of 2021 to make up for lost revenue), so the financial pressure on the companies is a big unknown at the moment. 

I'm not sure I can offer you much advice on the college route... I haven't experienced that myself, so I don't feel qualified to advise... although I'm guessing there are other, more important qualifications for the college, rather than it's location for auditioning (particularly if we're still doing video auditions), but I think only you and your DD can weigh and measure all of the various pros/cons.  

Keep in mind that company auditions run later than summer intensives (although there is some overlap).  She'll be auditioning for companies in February-April time frame, rather than December/January.  Some companies don't make decisions until May... and I have no idea what Covid will do to that time frame/performance schedule.  

We're all winging it, at the moment.  So, if I were you, and my DD was interested in dancing professionally, I'd invest the time in making some great video audition footage, and at least you'll have that ready for either college or company positions.

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Thank you both for the suggestions. My d will be working on videos this fall at her studio. We know about second companies which would mean her parents financially supporting for a year. I will introduce myself on forum.

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Welcome! If your daughter chooses the college route I would encourage her to choose one that offers the best fit for her in terms of training and goals rather than selecting based on a major city. There are a handful of selective ballet programs spread across the country. My hunch is that we will be looking at more videos this year and fewer in-person auditions for college, summer intensives, and companies.

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Thank you, dancingjet. I will let my d know.  I am trying to get her interested in colleges in Midwest and especially public universities in search of lower tuition. She is looking at both coasts more. The hard part about West Coast is travel expenses from East Coast.

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You might check out the BFA program through VCU and Richmond Ballet.  It’s kind of a hybrid trainee/BFA program. We are out of state but my dd (who applied to the regular BFA program, not the RB program) got enough scholarship money to bring the cost down to in-state levels.

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Hi Marzipandreams, you've been given great advice from all previous posters.  I have a DD currently in a college conservatory dance program (just returned to campus this weekend for in-person and online hybrid).  You may have already looked into it, but we found the Dance Magazine College Guide to be very helpful.  It's $40 we thought was very well spent.  Good luck to your DD!

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Just a heads up, public universities are not necessarily cheaper than private if you are coming from out of state.  And many private universities have endowments that may mean better scholarships/financial aid packages- or at least they used to before our current state of affairs.  

Also many students coming out of high school find themselves paying for additional training in "trainee" or "professional division" programs before making it into any kind of second company.  The tricky thing is that every company has their own terminology, so a "trainee" program one place may well be equivalent to a "second company" in others.  The big thing to look at is who pays; are you paying for the training, or is your DD getting paid to dance.

One other thing to look at for colleges is what kind of deferrals your dancer might be able to take.  If she gets accepted into a college she really likes, and is also fortunate to get an offer of some kind to dance, she could potentially take a gap year and have them hold her spot.  I also know that certain colleges offer their students the option to defer indefinitely after they have completed one full year of college.  There is a dancer at PNB that went to Harvard for her freshman year and when she was offered a PD spot at PNB, took an indefinite leave so that she could dance- she is now in the company.  My understanding is that once she is done dancing, she can return to Harvard to finish her degree.  These options are not necessarily advertised, you kind of have to dig around to find out about them.

Just putting these things out there because there are many roads that lead to Rome, so to speak.

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Cat11, thank you for all of the advice. We will apply to both public and private universities. I know with second company and apprentice/trainee positions, we may need to financially support her. I don't want to overlook any paths to a professional career and hopefully, she can find one that works!

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