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Goldenlily17

Jobs for graduates in Europe - the future?

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A lot of new points to catch up on here, but I absolutely agree that training dancers at voc schools should have the opportunity to learn a wider range of European languages to help them in the European job market; certainly German.

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Aileen, you are so right when you say that the insular British attitude to foreign languages restricts young people's choice of job - not only in dance. Frequently a prospective employer, faced with two equal candidates, will go for the native speaker of a useful foreign language who also has excellent English, rather than a Brit without the additional language.

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Can I suggest a possibly harsh answer (but a logical one) to the question about why some British-born & trained dancers aren't getting into the RBS Upper School, and then the company, or the ENBS School & then the company?

 

That they're just not good enough? And that it's not about who was born where - there'll be aspiring dancers in every affluent country in the world who will also never be good enough. 

 

As with ANY training in a highly sought after but terrifically hard area (and actually, I can think of a few universities and other areas of training exactly the same or even more demanding than ballet) many will try & few will succeed. That doesn't mean that the training is a waste, at whatever level it starts & finishes. I'm a firm believer in education for its own sake - or rather, in the von Humboldt tradition, for its ability to help each individual become the best person they can be. 

 

But sometimes, despite all the desire & ambition in the world, people just aren't good enough to succeed at the very top of their profession. I think it gets all muddled up in ballet/dance, because a lot of young people start the training as a hobby, an extra-curricular activity, despite whatever innate talent or bodily aptitude that they have. They then get the ballet bug, and if they show a modicum of talent, they're spurred on. Which is as it should be. But in the national & international scheme of things, they may be mediocre in relation to the very highest standards of excellence.

 

The parallel might be that not everyone who plays 5-a-side kick around is going to win the FA Cup final; weekend runners will never win an Olympic medal. Having those goals as ways of spurring you on might help you to become the best footballer you can be; but that might not be a striker for ManU.

 

Not being good enough may be only part of the answer, but it's a logical part of the answer  ...

Edited by Kate_N
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I think 'good enough' needs unpicking. Young dancers are told that these days choreographers want versatility. But do they really? Being versatile inevitably means compromising on time spent in hard core classical training. I think graduate dancers need to spend more time researching the repertoire of prospective companies to see what the artistic director/choreographer is looking for in dancers.

It is not good thinking that your contemporary skills, or your ability as a dance actress will propel your career if at the end of the day directors just want 32 totally reliable fouettes, so to speak,no matter what you have been led to believe.

There is still the debate - does it all boil down to technique and body shape in the end?

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Those students that have jumped through numerous hoops and somehow managed to survive 8 years training (not easy) are definitely good enough and certainly deserve to find corps de ballet jobs in this country. The shortage occupation list is a joke. Certainly the kids at the RBS (can't speak personally for anywhere else) work their arses off, but are not being given the training and tools needed to shine amongst their foreign counterparts. Somebody has to decide a proper training plan because right now it is all over the place. Seems to me that both school and company directors have no clue what they want/need and are scared to stick by their own students (or training), feeling more comfortable with those that have trained elsewhere and have already been given the thumbs up from an international jury.

English schools also need to start educating students about foreign schools and companies both in Europe and worldwide. Our RBS students literally have no clue what goes on outside the RB and are given no help when it comes to auditions for foreign companies or schools. Our forward planning talk at the RBS consisted of an out of date list of British schools, no European schools where mentioned at all. Any parent with no Dance background would have no idea that, there are some fantastic European schools, and Companies out there, that are accessible to our kids. Many of the WL RBS kids still think that there is no dancing life outside the RBS / RB and when the inevitable happens and the school places and company jobs are given to those from abroad, the students are left with no clue where to turn. It is a very sad state of affairs.

Edited by Sadielou
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To be honest, I don't think language ability affects an AD's decision whether to employ a dancer, it will be purely on what the dancer shows at an audition.  

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A few points/questions for you, Sadielou:

 

1 The RBS has an excellent graduate employment rate with virtually every graduate gaining a contract.

 

2 The RBS graduates take most of the new graduate jobs in the UK companies.

 

3 Unless you excluded every overseas student from employment in the UK there would never be enough jobs for British graduates of the UK schools. Is that what you think should happen?

 

4 Why are the companies wanting to take these overseas graduates rather than the British graduates?

 

5 Why are these WL students so insular and uninformed? Has the reality of professional life not been made clear to them?

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In answer to Aileen

 

1 Are you sure about that ? I think if you look closer you will see that this simply isn't true

2 Look where most of these "Graduates" have really been trained.

3 Of course not 

4 Because they are better trained in both stage / competition / audition technique and know what companies and schools are looking for.

5 The reality of professional life has been made clear. But life outside the RBS institution has not. 

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So how can we lobby effectively for

 

1. Better support and 'company' education at the RBS (the school I know best)

2. Take ballet and contemp dancers off the shortage of labour list

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By the way all but 2 of the current batch of this year's graduating RBS students have got jobs of some sort inc apprenticeships - hardly needs saying that the ones still looking are girls.

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Well, my advice would be to enter more competitions to get noticed and make connections. Three ballet dancers who featured in BBC Young Dancer, two at ENBS (one Brit) and one who was a non-vocational student (another Brit and a girl), were taken on by Northern Ballet last year. Similarly, Melissa Hamilton, who was essentially privately trained after a fairly brief unhappy time at a UK vocational school - she even relocated to Athens for this purpose - was offered a position with the RB after she won a prize at YAGP. You've got to fight for what you want. You can't just sit back and wait for a contract to wing its way to you. If you are prepared to relocate overseas for training at 15 or 16, perhaps knowing little or no English and to a country you have never visited before, then you must have a huge amount of grit and determination, as well as talent. That's what British students/graduates are competing with. It's not a career for the faint hearted.

 

RBS students have a big advantage over the students at the other schools in that the ADs from the English companies (I don't know about Scottish Ballet) come to observe them in their home studio, plus having the School on your CV opens doors to auditions that are closed to many others.

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I'm sorry but "deserve to find corps de ballet jobs in this country".  Does it mean that students trained elsewhere are somehow 'less deserving'? As that is how it comes across.

 

Getting a contract as a ballet dancer is not necessarily about being the best and I agree that 'not good enough' is perhaps not an accurate phrase - but it is personal. Each director will know what he wants from his dancers - technique, expression, performance, look and I agree with Goldenlily that graduates should research prospective companies and their repertoire.

 

I also don't really understand the preoccupation with 'in this country' if I am totally honest.  A contract is a contract at the end of the day and how many people actually get the job they really want straight out of college. That is true well outside the world of ballet.  The first job or first contract is just the first step of the ladder in the real world.

 

I think also the fact that all but 2 of the current batch of RBS graduates have secured some sort of work is testamount to the quality of the training and the standard of these dancers.  I cannot help but wonder how many students are due to graduate this summer from our dance colleges and universities in this position and how many are still searching and auditioning.

 

I don't doubt that every school has its failings and areas that can be improved on but the onus is on the student too.  The real world is a competitive place and nothing gets handed to you on a silver platter.  Where you trained might help open doors but you still have to prove yourself the right person for the job/role etc.

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We have this discussion every year sadly. I still think it crazy that some schools don't allow their students to do comps but recruit from them all the time!!

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Not all dancers are even allowed to enter competions - the schools sometimes pick the students they want.  Sadly those who need the exposure are least likely to be picked.

 

And without the backing of the school - unless they are prepared to support the students with extra training, help with costuming, any support at all - it is a fairly meaningless(and expensive) exercise.

 

If you think about it very few schools, vocational or otherwise, are entirely "fair" when it comes to handing out roles and opportunities, be it the end of year show, who is picked for productions, who is trained up for exams.  The schools want to showcase the best, as they see it, and so the gap gets wider and wider .....

 

As one whose child has only rarely been picked, even from the early pre-vocational days, it's frustrating and sad, but it is the way of the ballet world.

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To be honest, I don't think language ability affects an AD's decision whether to employ a dancer, it will be purely on what the dancer shows at an audition.

No, but lack of language ability/lack of instruction in language acquisition skills/lack of experience of picking up foreign languages may prove a psychological barrier to anglophone students looking for training or work in non-English-speaking countries.

 

 

This thread has gone thoroughly off course. Please can we get back to the original point, otherwise I may as well close it?

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By the way all but 2 of the current batch of this year's graduating RBS students have got jobs of some sort inc apprenticeships - hardly needs saying that the ones still looking are girls.

If this is true then it is clearly inside information which is not appropriate for sharing on this forum. These are real students whose lives shouldn't be discussed here.

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Please don't take this the wrong way, meadowblythe, and I am not referring to your child, but if a child is consistently overlooked for roles, shows, competitions or whatever *for years*, and in different settings, then could this be an indication that that child is lacking something or perhaps several things which will make it less likely that s/he will secure a contract on graduation? This is a genuine question and I hope that it does not cause offence. We love the underdog in the UK, and the tortoise who overtakes the hare, but I really don't think that other countries view things in the same way, particularly countries with a very competitive culture such as Australia where ballet competitions are just a way of life. I suspect that in many other countries the 'winnowing' process is far more vigorous, and self-imposed as well, so that aspiring dancers give up at an earlier stage if there are clearly lots of more talented dancers around. The ones who don't have what it takes don't make it as far as the UK for upper school training.

 

In the UK it's seen as a bit distasteful to be openly competitive and ambitious but self-belief and self-promotion are prized in many other countries. But being self-effacing and modest will not get you very far. As with most fields of activity, if you give out the message that you are good then (perhaps surprisingly) people will generally believe the hype and this can make a real difference when there are narrow margins between you and the competition.

 

I don't want to be too personal but I think that Tamara Rojo is an interesting example of someone who made it all the way to the top despite having some disadvantages working against her. She didn't train at one of the very top schools. She doesn't have the perfect ballet body and, according to her, was never the most flexible. She is not good in the air. She has said, memorably, that she was never the best dancer but was always the most bloody minded. However, she is a famously hard worker (she's put in not 10,000 hours but over 20,000), highly intelligent and passionate about art in general and the ADs she came across always recognised her as something special. When she steps out on the stage she tells you that she is a star. I think that Laurretta Summerscales has modelled herself on her boss and with I suspect some more work on her technique she now has a very assured and expansive stage presence which is helped by the fact that she is quite tall. She is now a principal.

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I am very grateful for the opportunity to discuss openly this issue with people who have a great deal of knowledge and who share the same concerns about jobs for dancers, many of whom will be their own children. Thank goodness for this forum.  It is an incredibly important subject and I have learnt a great deal since I started this discussion. The number of views this thread has been achieving in a short space of time suggests that other members are also deeply concerned about this issue.

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I did not take it as a personal comment, but interestingly my DS has been offered a number of contracts, including  year long professional ballet, on graduation.

 

 He had multiple MDS offers to chose from earlier in his career but as regular readers will know, I made a bad choice of school putting prestige and reputation far too high up the list of priorities.  And in the case of that vocational school, a very few were chosen regularly for all opportunities, it was the majority who were not put in for competitions, solo parts in shows etc.  

 

The message is, possibly, to keep going, the "sheer bloody mindedness," is maybe the thing you need above all to succeed.

 

So no, you won't see my son dance a solo in the graduation show.  But you may see him dance one in the future.

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Well, my advice would be to enter more competitions to get noticed and make connections. Three ballet dancers who featured in BBC Young Dancer, two at ENBS (one Brit) and one who was a non-vocational student (another Brit and a girl), were taken on by Northern Ballet last year. Similarly, Melissa Hamilton, who was essentially privately trained after a fairly brief unhappy time at a UK vocational school - she even relocated to Athens for this purpose - was offered a position with the RB after she won a prize at YAGP. 

RBS student are not allowed to enter competitions Aileen, much to the chagrin of at least one we know personally.

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RBS student are not allowed to enter competitions Aileen, much to the chagrin of at least one we know personally.

 

I thought the winner at YAGP this year (mens) was from RBS? 

GRAND PRIX   Joonhyuk Jun        The Royal Ballet School (UNITED KINGDOM/ REPUBLIC OF KOREA)

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Yes. It is true that the winner of the YAGP this year was 2nd year student from the RBS. They break their own rules if they want to.

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Okay, this thread appears to have gone irretrievably off-topic, so I'm locking it.

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I'm just briefly reopening this thread to remind people that if you are entitled to vote in the EU Referendum but aren't currently registered to vote, you have until this Tuesday, 7th June, to get yourself registered.

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I'm just briefly reopening this thread to remind people that if you are entitled to vote in the EU Referendum but aren't currently registered to vote, you have until this Tuesday, 7th June, to get yourself registered.

Having just heard on the news that the deadline has been extended until tomorrow (Thursday) night because of technical problems on the website last night, I am correcting the information. This is absolutely the last chance for UK residents/citizens to make sure they have a say in their country's future.

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