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Article in DT 2008 regarding vocational dance school auditions


JulieW
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While clearing out some old Dancing Times magazines, I found an article you might be interested in (from2008) – about vocational school auditions: cost, feedback etc:

 

Mrs S Saik-Boyce asks: With auditions costing upwards of £30, why won’t schools give any feedback as to a failed audition? It would really be most helpful to find out weaknesses so that they can be worked on, instead of floundering in the dark.

 

Mary Goodhew replies: I am sure that all vocational dance schools would wish to waive audition fees to ensure that they do not bar entry to anyone and some schools currently do waive the fee in cases of need. Sadly, sheer economics prevents this in most schools, as audition panels, pianist, teacher/s, studio running costs, administration, paperwork, postage, etc all take their toll on already cash-strapped budgets. It is the raw potential that is sought and often this involves a second audition with a physical screening by a physiotherapist and an interview. To my knowledge, no UK vocational dance school charges for their second or final audition.

 

You ask for feedback after an audition so that “weaknesses can be worked on”. Even if schools had the resources to produce individual statements on all auditioning candidates, such statements inevitably raise supplementary queries. If a candidate is already receiving dance training, the dance teacher, who knows the child best, will be able to tell you where weaknesses lie. Often there is no one specific reason or weakness in the candidates seen, but when schools seek out the best of the best, there could be other candidates who show more potential at that time.

If externally assessed dance examinations are not taken at your child’s dance school, getting an independent assessment from another dance teacher may assist in comprehending a young aspiring dancer’s strengths and weaknesses. Your dance teacher would be the best person to advise on this.

 

I am often asked if a young dancer should give up if they are unsuccessful in an audition at a vocational school they wish to join. I always say, “No, they should not give up if they are enjoying it”. I know a number of dancers who were unsuccessful at an audition in the early years, who then went on and made the grade professionally in dance and performing arts.”

 

 

 

A couple of things that I thought I’d comment on: I think her point about asking your local dance teacher about weaknesses is interesting - I’ve found they often see their students through rose-tinted spectacles (and using exam marks doesn’t really give you a proper picture of a student’s potential), so going to another dance teacher for an “assessment” would be a good idea; and it’s an excellent point when she says “Often there is no one specific reason or weakness in the candidates seen, but when schools seek out the best of the best, there could be other candidates who show more potential at that time.” - that’s exactly what we tell people on here :)

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That was rather a naive question. My ex DD is never given a reason why she did not get a part in a particular drama interview and usually she knows why. A song did not suit her voice or she was too nervous to do the part justice

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I agree Fiz, but we've seen many people on here over the years (and lots who I have spoken to personally) who wonder why vocational dance schools can't give feedback. It's always seemed a bit obvious to me (mainly because there are just far too many people, but also because there's often not a specific reason), but it isn't obvious to everyone. I think there are lots of children who do really well in exams and maybe festivals, and their local teachers tell them they're wonderful (because they may be the best in their school), so it can be hard to understand what's "wrong". That's where an independent teacher might come in useful.

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Also an audition is a just an hour to prove yourself, if you are not shining that day and others are, then the panel will not be drawn to that student, especially if there are a large number of them with the correct physique etc. My daughters ENB audition did not go well for her on the day, she new this and she could not do anything else to change what went wrong on that day. A lot of the time the student accepts the outcome it is the parents who find it difficult.

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Regarding feedback, my two daughters ( yr7 and yr10 entry) were lucky enough to get through to WL finals this yr. Although neither was successful, we were told by their associate teachers that feedback would be given to their dance teacher if she requested it. She wrote to Royal and my daughters were subsequently given verbal feedback as to their suitability. So it is possible in some circumstances. Northern Ballet Associates also encouraged auditionees to request feedback after the audition so they knew what areas needed working on.

Edited by Balletmumfor2
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Regarding feedback, my two daughters ( yr7 and yr10 entry) were lucky enough to get through to WL finals this yr. Although neither was successful, we were told by their associate teachers that feedback would be given to their dance teacher if she requested it. She wrote to Royal and my daughters were subsequently given verbal feedback as to their suitability. So it is possible in some circumstances. Northern Ballet Associates also encouraged auditionees to request feedback after the audition so they knew what areas needed working on.

I got feedback about my ds when I wrote to the RBS expressing concerns about him re auditioning after a year on the waiting list. It was such an achievement for him to have got that far , I was hesistant to let him try again in case he didn't get that far thus knocking his confidence. To my astonishment I got a phone call that not only gave me feedback but also exercises for him to improve his flexibility prior to his second attempt- these he did everyday. Then after his 2nd audition I got another phone call offering a weekly place as opposed to the fortnightly session I'd requested (due to financial reasons!) i still cringe when I remember how I gabbled on over the phone- I was so overcome.

But I must point out that it was known that I am a teacher and that is why I got feedback- I have since had feedback about other students in a similar position. It was actually explained to me that theu do prefer to talk to teachers because its they are more likely to understand the feedback. Likewise I was entrusted with the exercises because of my experience as a teacher.

Edited by hfbrew
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A lot of the time the student accepts the outcome it is the parents who find it difficult.

 

How true Tulip! I found it really hard to accept when my younger DD wasn't given a final for WL and she was also upset that the majority of her JA class had.

 

She was a JA for 3 years and whilst you know that potential can change and others come along with more, it is upsetting when you have travelled a 2hr round trip, given up numerous social occasions and missed school lessons.

 

I had a very encouraging phone call from the JA teacher that year coupled with Gailene Stock pulling her back into the audition room to give her a second look, I let MY hopes for final run away with me.

 

I wouldn't have usually asked for feedback but I felt at some time over the last 3 years her JA teacher must have had an idea she wasn't quite Royal material.

 

Her local teacher called and the feedback given was lovely and positive.The reasons given for her non selection were quite correct and in the end I was relieved we hadn't had a wasted journey to london. ;)

Edited by HAIRBELLES
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When auditioning pupils for MIDAS we as a panel always identify something that each auditionee can work on, so that if they are unsuccessful we can put this in the letter. I appreciate that we are a small-ish programme and that it is hard to give really personalised feedback to each and every auditionee, but it's also not hard to prepare a few generic letters based around areas that students commonly need to work on eg hip flexibility, back flexibility, strength and control of turnout, performance quality.

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Useful to know that some kind of feedback is available. I wonder if this would only apply to JA's applying to RBS. It obviously made sense to you HAIRBELLES. I am sure it is so much better to know.

 

Some letters will say that they will not enter into ANY feedback but some like RBS will accept feedback from your usual teacher.I know for sure that The Hammond and Elmhurst video their auditions so they would be able to look at your child again.

 

Yes it did make sense tutoo2much and it did stop all the wondering why she didn't make it.

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While feedback from an audition is useful and certainly could be helpful - it is also a subjective opinion - though it may be an informed subjective opinion. It is not the be all and end all. It is a snapshot in time and a snapshot taken through a particular lens.

 

If more than one audition turns up the same information (feedback) then it certainly has more credence.

 

Different entities/schools look for different things - their lens is slightly focused in a different way.

 

For me personally, I would not base my opinion on a video as the only or final source. I can see a video showing an applicant to be truly unsuited, but not as the arbiter between close choices.

 

I would have to see the auditioning dancers/students in the flesh. Some dance qualities are subtle - in fact the important ones are subtle. Assuming that the applicant is otherwise suitable - then it is those subtleties which distinguish and give life to an individual's dance qualities.

 

I have seen some very fine dancers/students who's qualities don't come through the camera - or as yet don't come through the camera. The camera is a tool that can be very unforgiving and can tell us things that aren't true or fail to transmit the living quality of the dance and the dancer. The camera tends to deaden the life of the dance especially if it is in the hands of an amateur. Dance is difficult to photograph and/or video and is a study within itself and even when professionally done - is less than wonderful.

 

If one combines the possible lack on expertise on the part of the photographer with the lack of experience in being photographed/videoed on the part of the student - the result is less than accurate - or not accurate enough to make such an important - even life altering - decision.

 

When I found myself in the role of the auditioner I always tried to remember the the verdict given to a certain dancer: "Can't act. Slightly balding. Can dance a little." The dancer was Fred Astaire.

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For me personally, I would not base my opinion on a video as the only or final source. I can see a video showing an applicant to be truly unsuited, but not as the arbiter between close choices.

 

I would have to see the auditioning dancers/students in the flesh. Some dance qualities are subtle - in fact the important ones are subtle. Assuming that the applicant is otherwise suitable - then it is those subtleties which distinguish and give life to an individual's dance qualities.

 

I have seen some very fine dancers/students who's qualities don't come through the camera - or as yet don't come through the camera. The camera is a tool that can be very unforgiving and can tell us things that aren't true or fail to transmit the living quality of the dance and the dancer. The camera tends to deaden the life of the dance especially if it is in the hands of an amateur. Dance is difficult to photograph and/or video and is a study within itself and even when professionally done - is less than wonderful.

 

If one combines the possible lack on expertise on the part of the photographer with the lack of experience in being photographed/videoed on the part of the student - the result is less than accurate - or not accurate enough to make such an important - even life altering - decision.

 

 

Do any of the the vocational schools do video auditions? I didn't think they did.... I'd also be a bit worried about accepting or not accepting someone onto a full time programme based solely on a video!

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Do any of the the vocational schools do video auditions? I didn't think they did.... I'd also be a bit worried about accepting or not accepting someone onto a full time programme based solely on a video!

 

I don't think they do drdance.....if they accept dvd's maybe its instead of the prelim audition......I have no idea so I wouldn't like to guess!

 

I get the feeling my earlier post has been taken the wrong way.

 

I would imagine the children at audition are recorded so the panel, sometimes depending which school, there can be over 6 people all with subjective opinions , can remind themselves which child or young adult they are referring to at a later date.

 

This recording of the actual audition is what I was refering to when I commented to tutoo2much about asking for feedback.

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That makes much more sense! We sometimes take video auditions but I have a very clear idea of the sort of things we look for in students and it is clear on a video if these things are evident, in my opinion. For monthly classes it's not quite the same as vocational school either.

 

I have noticed a lot of places have an auditions/admissions policy and so if you want feedback from any auditions it might be worth looking at that policy first.

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When my dd auditioned for an associate programme a while ago and was put on the waiting list, I was lucky enough to get some feedback.

 

I'm glad it came to me directly rather than through her teacher, since it was the tuition she had been receiving that they weren't all that happy with.

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