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Northern Ballet Professional Graduate Programme

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Hello Everyone

 

I was wondering if anyone had any experience of the NB Professional Graduate Programme, I believe it to be a fairly new course.  It is a rather large financial commitment, however it does appear that the students have secured some contracts.  Also, is it tremendously difficult to even get to audition stage?  I should imagine it's pretty over-subscribed. 

 

Any thoughts would be most welcome. :)

 

Cheers

BB

 

 

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...and if you click on the "tags" I've added under the title, the other threads should appear as a list. :-)

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Wow that was quick!  Thank you Anna C.  Very helpful, but I was rather hoping to also hear of anyone's or anyone's daughter/son experience of auditioning or perhaps attending.  I know it's a tough world out there and if it's unbelievably challenging and the competition super talented, I would rather be forewarned! ;)

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My daughter has just finished this year with this programme. There are only ever 12 students in total. Lots of students audition from all the top schools and abroad, so again cut throat. The training keeps them at the top of their game whilst they are still auditioning.

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Tulip, do the students have opportunities to audition for company work throughout the year, or is it a set 1 year course? Was there a good mix of female and male student's in your daughter's year, for pas de deux work?

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It would be useful if they would advertise the graduates placements after the course. I feel it is a shame that the company has taken on so many new dancers this year, and yet only one has come from their own graduate training programme.

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Students are allowed to audition throughout the year. Unfortunately there was only two men this year but I think in previous years there were more. The students dance alongside company members when they are home, they also take part in Northern Ballets productions.

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It's my impression (and this is therefore not scientific!) that companies are increasingly taking dancers from other companies into the corps in preference to graduating students and offering new graduates junior company positions rather than positions with the 'main' company. Getting that first company contract is just so tough.

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It's my impression (and this is therefore not scientific!) that companies are increasingly taking dancers from other companies into the corps in preference to graduating students and offering new graduates junior company positions rather than positions with the 'main' company. Getting that first company contract is just so tough.

 

I agree, but Northern Ballet has a graduate scheme AND apprentice positions. And bearing in mind that the graduate scheme is filled by students who have already completed their (usually) 3 years of training, you would argue that they should be ready for a corps position given that they have done an additional year. At the very least you would expect them to achieve an apprentice position.

 

I am not one who thinks that companies should necessarily take from the affiliated schools, but bearing in mind that Northern Ballet Company runs the graduate programme itself (not a separate school) it seems disappointing that more from the graduate programme are not taken on either into apprentice or corps positions and also that the destinations are not published at all.

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I recollect that several 'graduates' of the graduate programme have joined the company over the last few years. This year, the results are disappointing but that rather backs up my point: companies prefer to take dancers with several years of professional experience rather than students who have just finished training. There really isn't much pastoral care in a ballet company and, with the exception of the RB, the companies all tour (NB extensively) and the companies probably just find it less hassle to employ dancers who are slightly older and who have some professional experience.

 

Edited to add: of the 10 new corps contracts given by NB only two have gone to dancers who have not come from other companies, one to a graduate of the RBS and the other to a graduate of NB's Professional Graduate Programme.

Edited by aileen
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My daughter used Northern to keep her training from Central at the level it was. Training that was of a very high standard everyday whilst still auditioning. My daughter no longer wants to concentrate on pure ballet, she wants to dance in all jandres and will take any opportunity into musical theatre. She has a contract for seven months on a cruise ship, where she will dance everyday and finally earn some money, enough for when she comes home to continue auditioning. It is extremely tough out there with very few jobs. Having said this my daughter wasn't prepared to travel to certain countries so limited her chances.

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I recollect that several 'graduates' of the graduate programme have joined the company over the last few years. This year, the results are disappointing but that rather backs up my point: companies prefer to take dancers with several years of professional experience rather than students who have just finished training. There really isn't much pastoral care in a ballet company and, with the exception of the RB, the companies all tour (NB extensively) and the companies probably just find it less hassle to employ dancers who are slightly older and who have some professional experience.

Edited to add: of the 10 new corps contracts given by NB only two have gone to dancers who have not come from other companies, one to a graduate of the RBS and the other to a graduate of NB's Professional Graduate Programme.

All this does make me wonder why some schools insist that 18 is too old to start a three year Upper School course - particularly with the recent discussions around bio-banding and frequent difference between actual age and skeletal age. I wonder why some Classical schools don't take a leaf out of the Contemporary schools' book and take a serious look at 18 year-olds. This seems especially relevant when none other than RBS has set up Advanced Associates for 16 and 17 year-olds.

 

Apologies for going somewhat off topic but with excellent graduate schemes like Northern's becoming more common, and graduates being older before they get that elusive first contract, it does make me wonder why the insistence on starting a degree or Level 6 full-time course no later than 16 or just 17.

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...companies prefer to take dancers with several years of professional experience rather than students who have just finished training...

Bit of a Catch-22 situation then isn't it - you can't get a job until you have the experience, but you can't get the experience until you have a job! 

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There are classical jobs, just that they won't pay enough for you to live on. My daughter got a contract with a small company, but the wage they offered whilst rehearsing didn't cover the rent to live in London, never mind food and travel.

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I recollect that several 'graduates' of the graduate programme have joined the company over the last few years. This year, the results are disappointing but that rather backs up my point: companies prefer to take dancers with several years of professional experience rather than students who have just finished training. There really isn't much pastoral care in a ballet company and, with the exception of the RB, the companies all tour (NB extensively) and the companies probably just find it less hassle to employ dancers who are slightly older and who have some professional experience.

 

Edited to add: of the 10 new corps contracts given by NB only two have gone to dancers who have not come from other companies, one to a graduate of the RBS and the other to a graduate of NB's Professional Graduate Programme.

 

I think the fact that they have only taken on 2 graduates out of 10 contracts is very disappointing, especially when other companies such as Royal Ballet, BRB and ENBS seem to have no problem taking on graduates straight out the UK schools and so it can't be an issue of standard or experience. And I know lots of graduates from across the UK schools auditioned at Northern this year but weren't successful.

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Gosh, thank you for all the information everyone!  Lots to think about, good luck to all of you out there already auditioning for companies, or school or associates!  BB x   :)

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There are classical jobs, just that they won't pay enough for you to live on. My daughter got a contract with a small company, but the wage they offered whilst rehearsing didn't cover the rent to live in London, never mind food and travel.

 

Yes, I can vouch for that too. 

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Tulip, congratulations to your daughter for securing work so that she can continue with her dream.

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Referring to Tabitha's post, we haven't yet seen a 'joiners and leavers' announcement this year but I have to say that, IMO, ENB is one of the 'worst' for recruiting dancers from other companies in preference to new graduates, and those that they do take, if they are not from the RBS, are generally international prize winners eg Precious Adams, Cesar Corrales.

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I think the fact that they have only taken on 2 graduates out of 10 contracts is very disappointing, especially when other companies such as Royal Ballet, BRB and ENBS seem to have no problem taking on graduates straight out the UK schools and so it can't be an issue of standard or experience. And I know lots of graduates from across the UK schools auditioned at Northern this year but weren't successful.

 

 

 

As Northern Ballet has expanded by around 25% over the past couple of years perhaps they were finding that the graduates they had been taking on could not get on quickly enough with the rep or did not fit in with the style.  Perhaps they wanted to bolster the company with more experienced dancers.

 

I was at a talk by David Nixon some years ago around the time that the Professional Graduates Programme was being set up and he said that a lot of the dancers he was seeing from the schools were not what he would call "stage ready" and that is why he had decided to set up this programme.  You have to bear in mind, imho, that NB is a smaller company than those you list and cannot afford, with their touring commitment, to take on dancers who can grow into the company slowly.  They need people who can come "up and running".  Of the current company, 4 dancers (excluding the new apprentice) came via the Professional Graduates Programme.

 

Tabitha I am sure you have the statistics to hand but my feeling is that, until this year, when numbers of dancers have been taken on they have mostly been graduates.  I do not know why that is not the case this year.

 

I would not have expected to see a list of graduate destinations listed on the company promotions, leavers, joiners notification as the Programme is run as part of the Academy not the Company.

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Northern graduate programme took only one graduate this year, yet the graduates are used in the productions? Each company is after something specific to fit their company. It is just the way it is end of. Dancer begin to realise at the end of graduation how tough and how small the job pool is. Sometimes it's not that the dancers aren't good enough, they just aren't right for that company.

However even to be selected for the graduate programme it is tough and I think it will get tougher now that we are no longer part of th EU, making work permits expensive and freedom to travel more difficult. I think it was ballet Flanders who requested that to audition for them this season, dancer must be part of the EU. We are ok for two years I think.

Anyway long and short of it all, Northern don't ever promise to employ their graduates and they all know this, one or two may get an apprenticeship. The training is professional with some professional performance experience, good for your CV.

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The professional graduate programme has now ran for three years; my DC was in the second run of the programme. There were two males within the cohort of 11. If I remember correctly there were two males the year before ie the first year of the programme. It is disappointing that after the first year only one of the graduates from each of the following years has been taken on as an apprentice at the end of the course. However, as Tulip says that is the way it is when it comes to securing employment; it's very tough!

 

Like Janet I have noted that this year their new dancers are mainly experienced and from other companies. I wonder why but it's most likely that they simply performed best at the audition in February.

 

Tulip; congratulations to your daughter in securing a contact :)

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The company recruitments are presumably related to the leavers. If a company is simply expanding I would hope they would recruit more apprentices. However, Northern have lost a few seasoned dancers this year, so presumably they wished to bolster the ranks with more experiences recruits. Also, would all of the graduates from the professional programme have wished to join the company? Perhaps some of them had other options? It would be helpful to have a list of graduate destinations.

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BlueLou, that's a good point about the company needing to recruit more experienced dancers this year to replace the more seasoned dancers who have left. The company can't have a quarter of its dancers coming straight from training. There's not much 'stage dressing' in NB's productions. Most dancers need to be able to dance a wide variety of roles as casts change constantly and the company usually has more than one production on the go.

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Hi Veryskint (I know the feeling!)  Congratulations to your DC for getting on the course, you must be very proud :)  Hope you don't mind my asking, but were the majority of the auditionees from the top schools or were there any wild cards there, and was the audition particularly gruelling!  I know you've got to be in it to win it, but if the auditions are dominated by the high achievers, then it might be too daunting.  I have heard that NB are keen on potential, but I suppose at this stage in training, they expect all round talent that just needs that extra boost.  Any insight would be really appreciated! BB x  PS 11 gosh that's not many places ...

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BlueLou, that's a good point about the company needing to recruit more experienced dancers this year to replace the more seasoned dancers who have left. The company can't have a quarter of its dancers coming straight from training. There's not much 'stage dressing' in NB's productions. Most dancers need to be able to dance a wide variety of roles as casts change constantly and the company usually has more than one production on the go.

 

It's a nice theory but out of the 9 dancers that are leaving, 6 of them had only been there for one year i.e. 4 apprentices and 2 new corps members. Another one had been there 2 years.

So hardly an exodus of seasoned dancers.......

Edited by tabitha

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