Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

Community Reputation

78 Excellent

Recent Profile Visitors

462 profile views
  1. I have pointed out to MAC that the format of their online form is unsuitable for stakeholders who wish to give evidence that a particular group should be removed from the list as there are sufficient applicants to fill vacancies. They will return to me with a more suitable means of conveying this and I will post details.
  2. Yes, absolutely. It isn't a survey though it is an invitation for individuals to give evidence online in an open consultation which will contribute to a government review. You just click on the link I have provided. The Shortage list isn't reviewed very often so it is an extremely important opportunity for stakeholders, which just means someone with an interest or concern.
  3. I am afraid the government has indeed made this commitment. I received confirmation of it in a letter from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport confirming this on 11th December. If there is no Withdrawal Agreement it will simply happen more abruptly. I would suggest that you take a look at the numbers of British dancers who are working in non-EU ballet companies and you will see that UK dancers are subjected to the protectionism commonly practised in many countries which routinely favour nationals. It is far more difficult for British dancers to work in the USA and in Asia, for example, than it is for American and Asian dancers to work in the UK.
  4. In 2016 I started a thread which raised concerns about employment prospects for British dancers post-Brexit. At the time at least one member cited an article which claimed that Arts Professionals had nothing to fear from leaving the EU. I am now opening up a related thread which urges dancers, parents and teachers of dance students and all those concerned with the career prospects of British dancers to take action and give evidence to the government, which is forming policy over the coming months which will affect the career prospects of the current generation of British dancers for many years to come. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/shortage-occupation-list-2018-call-for-evidence The government has stated a firm commitment to ending freedom of movement when the UK leaves the European Union in March. For ballet dancers this could prove a calamity because most dancers who graduate from UK vocational schools are reliant on finding work in companies within EU countries outside the UK in order to develop their careers. Every year graduating students and professional dancers travel to auditions all around Europe, often invited at only a few days notice, and the right to work and live in Europe without lack of visa restrictions, provides them with a plethora of possible opportunities which are unavailable in the UK, where there are so few openings in ballet companies. Contracts and apprenticeships exist in the UK, of course, but in recent years the level of global competition for British jobs has reached fever-pitch as barriers to entry are lower than in almost any other country in the world. This makes the establishment of a career in the UK virtually impossible for British graduates with little experience. Competition for jobs in all countries is tough, but in recent years many ballet companies around the world have resolved to prioritise and nurture their own talent, giving preference to students from their own schools who are nationals, stipulating that job applicants must be resident in the country in which the company is based, that they must apply in the language of that country, or simply stating that they cannot offer jobs to non-nationals at all. Only in the UK now, it seems, is it acceptable for dancers of all nationalities to enjoy contracts in British companies, whilst British ballet dancers who were identified as exceptional talents as children and have completed their training alongside international students in our vocational schools, are either working abroad, unemployed, or struggling to fund their ongoing training by doing part-time work between short freelance contracts. We frequently read of concerns about the problem of eating disorders, anxiety, depression and social isolation in the dance profession, but the question that should be asked is whether there is a link between these problems and the systemic disappointments and lack of opportunities that dancers feel as a result of thwarted hopes and ambitions after so many years of dedicated training. Supporters of Brexit might imagine that life will get rosier for British dancers when the UK has a more controlled immigration scheme. But unfortunately British dancers will become some of the most disadvantaged in the world, and it is quite possible that ballet will cease to be a viable profession for the following reason: Classical and Contemporary dancers are included in the UK Labour Shortage List (Shortage Occupation List) under the pretext that we do not have enough highly skilled dancers in the UK. This enables ballet companies to employ international dancers with far greater ease than British dancers can be employed in non-European companies. There is no reciprocity. Following Brexit the government intends to create a simplified single global immigration system for high-skilled workers. European workers will be included in the category which currently covers non-EU citizens. Therefore, whilst British dancers lose the right to live and work freely in Europe (at best they will have to obtain short-term working visas or complex dance passports, which will exclude them from permanent jobs under the government's current plans) European dancers will still be able to work in the UK enjoying the special status and lack of visa restrictions currently awarded to dancers from non-EU countries. In June 2018 the government commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to carry out a full review of the composition of the Shortage Occupation List, and MAC has published a call for evidence to be supplied which will influence which professions are included in the new post-Brexit list. It has been evident for a long time that we certainly have no shortage of dancers in the UK at entry point, or corps de ballet level. Surely if we had a shortage, British dancers would be considered an asset? The truth is that we have an over-supply of female dancers who have been trained to perform in our corps de ballets and have proved themselves by performing with our leading companies as students, but who are not able to begin their careers in these companies - and more are graduating with every passing year. Christopher Wheeldon received almost 1,000 applications from dancers when he advertised for corps members to join his forthcoming production of Cinderella in the Albert Hall this summer. To conclude, a distinction must be made between the need to import soloists and guest artists who can perform repertoire at short notice which might not be able to be performed by resident dancers, and new entrants into the job market. If we don't make this distinction the problem of employment among British dancers will become acute, especially for women. We will see even more wasted talent, vocational schools will close and careers in ballet may cease to exist altogether If you have any concern for the future careers of British dancers post Brexit, I plead with members of this forum to give evidence to the Migration Advisory Council and make clear that the UK Shortage Occupation List should not include entry-level ballet dancers as we do not have a national shortage. Submissions must be made by the closing date of 14th JANUARY https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/shortage-occupation-list-2018-call-for-evidence
  5. I am not sure I buy the idea that British students don't succeed out of a sense of entitlement. I think that it was rather shocking that Christopher Powney said something so disparaging and inappropriate given that he is the head of a British institution. It is the sort of remark which would lead to outrage in other walks of public life, and possibly to the individual who made that comment being forced to resign. It has the smell of an attempt to deflect his own lack of interest in British students by finding fault in the vulnerable, and that sort of remark is exactly the attitude which leads to the kind of low self-esteem evidenced by British students. Having battled to win a place in a top school, which as we know are extremely difficult to get into, they realise that they are not being trained in a level playing field, but that there is a sort of unspoken two-tier system whereby favourite international students (yes, with influential sponsors who expect a return for their money) are promoted and that they are marking time before they are dropped. This is especially iniquitous and irresponsible at RBS because British students have no choice but to reduce their higher education by dropping 2 of their A levels. Surely the most talented students in all countries should feel entitled to a place in national institution originally set up to train the best students within that country, and funded by taxes paid by their parents? Isn't the primary purpose of a national ballet school to train the young talent of that country? I am sure this is taken for granted in most countries. Almost 50% of the funding received by the RBS comes from the Department of Education. Should the Department of Education be spending all this money supporting an institution and paying teachers who are not acting in the best interests of the British children.
  6. Just steering back briefly to my original purpose for joining this thread, which was to draw attention to the worrying prospect of those British dancers who do manage to get through to the end of their training in the UK, who now risk losing their freedom to work in Europe. Unable to access companies in the UK, as we have discussed, they must seek work overseas, but if they can only work with 3 month or festival visas this is going to make a tough situation virtually impossible for them, while numbers entering the UK will continue to rise. I am interested in your post Viv, because I would like to hear what you have to say about Australian dancers seeking work in Europe. As we know there are very few companies in Australia and so they must also seek work outside Australia. You mention students who are travelling all over the world to train. How many of students will find work afterwards? Is it as difficult for Australians to get visas to work in the US as it is for the British (British students are told by their schools not to bother auditioning in the USA as it is a waste of money as they won't get a visa)? Is it easier for Australians to work in Asia? How do Australians see the future when increasing numbers of EU companies seem to be closing auditions to dancers who do not hold EU passports? Your input would be most valuable.
  7. From what I understand the Government's Migration Advisory Committee wants to reduce access for low-skilled EU workers, and allow greater access for higher-skilled EU migration (Tier 2 visas which includes dancers), and it wants to extend this scheme to include EEA migrants. The goal is to scrap the current cap on the number of workers allowed to enter under Tier 2. Top priority will be given to workers on the shortage list. If this happens we will see greater numbers of dancers finding it easier to get visas to come to the UK. The Government wants to do this to recruit Mining Engineers, Cyber security experts and Paediatric consultants, which we actually need. My argument is that dancers should not be on the Labour Shortage List at all. We don't actually need more dancers because we have a real issue with dancers finding employment in this country, and we certainly don't need them at a time when British dancers will face much greater hardship as opportunities for them within the EU diminish, as seems inevitable. Earlier this year the House of Lords Home Office sub-committee took evidence from the representatives of workers in the cultural sector and came up with a report which advised the adoption of certain types of visas for cultural sector workers who need to travel to the EU to find work. The problem is that dancers weren't well represented as they don't have a union of their own, unlike Musicians. It strikes me that the recommendations which the committee put to the government will work for musicians but not for dancers who have completely different needs. This is why I am so concerned that dancers have a voice and why I would like to see some public figure from the dance world form a lobby group to give dancers a voice.
  8. The bigger issue here is how British graduates along the length of the dance spectrum will find jobs post-Brexit. This is what the parents of young dancers in vocational training, or considering vocational training, should be most concerned about in my view. The odds of entering one of the UK's leading ballet companies have become worse with every passing year. This year only 1 British female dancer and 2 British males were permitted to graduate from the Upper School. There were a few more at ENBS, but none of them were offered contracts at ENB (all of the contracts went to EU and international students). Prospects at Elmhurst were no better. AD's and school directors do not want to see restrictions on the numbers of students and dancers coming into this country and are fighting to prevent this through One Dance UK, which defends their interests. As long as dancers remain on the UK Labour Shortage List, it will be possible for overseas dancers to by-pass the kind of visa restrictions which Brits face when trying to find work overseas. Graduates are advised not to try to seek work in the USA on the basis that they will waste their money in a fruitless search because American dancers must get priority for jobs. The same is true in Asia and South Africa. Australia and New Zealand have very few companies, which is why so many Anzac students and dancers are in the UK. In short European companies, especially Eastern European companies, have been the main source of employment for British dancers for years. If British dancers lose their freedom of movement in Europe there isn't really anywhere else for them to go. It is already tough enough for students and their families, especially as the cost of travelling to audition can run to thousands of pounds, and at open auditions, dancers can expect to find themselves competing with an average of 150 dancers even after pre-selection. If British graduates face visa restrictions which prevent their from finding full-time or at least annual contracts in companies, there will be very little hope for this generation as AD's may not want to be bothered with the red tape involved in employing them. Protectionism is now creeping in the EU as more online ads for dancers stipulate that applicants must have EU passports or national passports from the host country. In other countries it has become evident that although non-citizens are welcome to audition, it is more likely at the end of the audition that the national, or native-language speaker will get the job. So what is being done to prevent British ballet dancers becoming the most disadvantaged in the world? Artistic directors continue to scour the globe and compete with each other to recruit international competition winners, while paying scant attention to British dancers in their own schools. The post just above this one advertises how the Royal Ballet School is going to audition from new recruits in San Francisco and Chicago in January. But we do not see leading American companies coming to the UK to recruit dancers. EU and international students who come to fill our schools (and we have too many schools producing too many dancers, all claiming to provide training for professional careers) will have the choice to stay and work here or return to their own countries and economic zones, where they will find a wider range of employment opportunities. Equity is urging members to write to their MPs and has highlight the devastating consequences of Brexit for dancers and other cultural sector workers who are highly mobile if they lose freedom of movement. However, as far as I can see there are no public figures or high-profile ex-dancers who are fighting for this new generation of British dancers. It is very sad that those who did not face today's levels of international competition themselves, and who were able to enjoy more stable careers in British companies, do not seem to feel compelled to represent the new generation of talent, and to enter into discussion with the government.
  9. Yes, it is audition time of year again, and as I read about all the European companies advertising I ask myself what is going to happen after March 2019, when British dancers will lose freedom of movement and the right to work in Europe. How are they going to find contracts? and why aren’t people asking questions? I have seen nothing in the dance press and it is the most pressing topic in the dance world today.
  10. I don't see how that is relevant as the point of the School Show is partly to be seen and the Ursula Moreton is in-house and therefore private. Furthermore Ursula Moreton happens every year so every 2nd year faces this demand on their time. It is not an either or. Last year's 2nd Year had a lengthy piece choreographed on them by Charlotte Edmonds for the end of year show which displayed many of the individual talents of the year group well. No, I really think the majority of this year's 2nd years have not been nurtured as they should have been by the school, especially the female students.
  11. I have to say with sadness in my heart that it would be a fine thing if the RBS would spread the roles around more. They select the students they want to promote when they join the school, almost always sponsored foreign competition winners and so rarely home-grown, and the many other talented students never have the opportunity to be showcased. Please note that whilst Harrison, Yu and Amelia are undoubtedly very talented, there are many talented students who never get a chance to shine and this is highly demoralizing, particularly for the few British students, especially if they have managed to survive the whole way through the school. I thought it very sad that there was so little focus on the current 2nd Year students. The First Year's had some dancing in Watkins' 'Onwards', but the 2nd Years had very little to do outside of the corps in Concerto and, for the girls, 'Les Sylphides'. This was particularly unfortunate given that last year they only had the gypsy corps in 'Deux Pigeons'.
  12. If there are only 6 or 7 in the 3rd Year Ballet it sounds as though the opportunities for pas de deux work must be limited
  13. Thanks. It sounds as it has a similar profile to Tring. I would be interested in knowing how many there are in the final year of the ballet stream. Which year is your daughter in?
  • Create New...