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Tulip
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Just a little hormonal rant. I have just been talking to friends who have dancing children and we all got talking about student loans. For Central and other dancing schools DA DA's are not offered because they are classed as a university. My husband made the comment of saying the amount of debt our daughter will have when she graduates, mind you they need to be earning £30.000 before they have to pay the loan back. The other friend then answered with 'and that will never happen for our dancing children with the wages that they will earn'. I know right now my daughter would not care about how much she was earning just so long as she 'made it' in the classical world.

 

How sad after years and years of training that our dancers are on such poor wages. At the opera house tickets can be very expensive and it is the mega rich people who are paying to watch our dancers in the best seats. Wouldn't you think that these dancers would be rewarded with a better pay to entertain these rich people. Joe Bloggs who would love to watch a ballet can't because of the prices and the poor parents who have payed a fortune over the years to fund their dancing children's classes and travel can't go as often as they would like because again very exoensive. I know the cost of putting on a show is very expensive and the running of a theatre etc, but it is still sad that the dancers are not rewarded with a better pay packet.

 

I know things will never change, it is just the way it is, but I just felt the need to have a rant and get it off my chest he he.

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Principals and senior soloists probably earn decent money but not the majority. It would be nice for them to be paid more when they've put so much into getting there. But it's not as though the dance companies are raking it in either, most of them are struggling to stay afloat!!

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The pay is interesting. The big companies I thought paid quite well. Not like lawyers , bankers, accountants etc but still wellish. I can't now remember the starting salary at BRB but I didn't think it wasn't too awful. I think the real problem is those who do not join a big company or maybe do short term contracts.

 

I only have direct experience of Europe. As an apprentice in Vienna my son was paid better than those in smaller companies in Slovakia, Estonia, etc. Now, in Munich, he is well paid. Again it is a large company. They do work very hard but I'd say for a 22 year old, in a classical company it is ok. Obviuously Munich is hugely expensive so a bald figure seems alot until one realises how high tax and living is.

 

I know many in small companies do struggle and in many ways it is similar to my daughter's experience acting. Short term contracts and low pay that just doesn't pay enough to live on.

 

I wonder how much the soloists and principals get paid?

 

We always joke here that with an actress daughter and dancing son our other son needs to do a "normal" job .lol

 

Seriously they will never earn large amounts and though I say my son is paid well of course he is single with no dependents. It must be much tougher if one has a family and I guess that is when many switch career.

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They mostly pay for it themselves. As an apprentice Martin was in very grotty student accomodation. First year in Munich he lived in a studio flat in the same building that the ballet school students live in. That was cheaper than the going rate. Last year and this he is in a studio flat privately rented.

 

I have heard of accomodation provided but not common.

 

With my daughter she gets acoomodation when she does a tour but the pay is low, low. She is just off on a 6 month tour of Barcelona where accomodation provided but she has to pay bills. She did a years tour of Germany all acomm paid and bills. (That was a great theatre company!)

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Also of course short contracts mean no pensions etc.

 

I think it is only realistic for many parents to continue "helping" children even when first employed, if they can. I know many of the musical theatre students try to stay in London after graduation but struggle. They need work to survive, that gets in the way of auditioning etc. A vicious circle.

 

My daughter has had 2 stints renting in London after graduation and they cost her a fortune and on both occasions she then went on tour. Once abroad and once around the UK. So now she is based back here though at 24 isn't thrilled at that.:-) But as I said she is off to spain for 6 months very soon.

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I think many companies would love to pay their dancers more but are struggling as it is. They depend on audiences to back them. Unforttunately there is this perception that ballet is expensive but in actual fact it costs less than many sporting events , music concerts and shows! Even family theme parks can be more expensive. I personally prefer to watch ballet from above , quite far away and have as a result rarely paid more than £25 even at the Royal Opera House.

 

Now I've witnessed my son's valiant company taking an extremely high standard of ballet out into the wilds of the UK performing to half full theatres I have definately seen the other side of the coin and I promised myself to make a more concerted effort to support dance groups coming to local theatres.You don't have to go to London to see good productions! For example at one of the local theatres a trip to the ballet cost only £10 for children under 16 whereas most London theatre don't offer half price for children.

 

Obviously different companies vary in their contracts and some treat their dancers better than others. My ds is one of the lucky ones, yes the pay is low but the director has been very proactive in finding very reasonable accomodation during rehearsals and all accomodation is paid for once the company is on tour. Ds managed to save money last season!

 

The sad fact is that the majority of people in the performing arts do not make money. I always make that quite clear to my students. If you want to be rich financially then don't dance! If however dancing makes you happy and you don't mind living in tiny rooms (lets face it many dancers only go home to sleep as they are out all day anyway) then enjoy it while you can. Most dancers careers are short lived anyway so there is plenty of time later on to look at other more lucrative career options.

 

I'm not well off. But I have a very fulfilling career, its such a privilege to be involved in so many young people's lives. And years ago I was earning a very paltry (even then) £22 per week as a dancer. But guess what I had an absolute ball! And I didn't feel exploited as the entire company was in the same predicament- we depended on people paying to see us. I'm smiling now thinking of the fun we had..

 

I do agree that it would be good if all dancers were better paid but this is only going to happen if they can frequently attract good audiences. Even the big companies are struggling at the moment. Unless people support them then there may come a sad day when there won't be any ballet to watch and future jobs for our young dancers to aspire to. But maybe us people on Ballet.co who do know that there is more to dance than The Nutcracker could start to make a difference by encouraging more people to go to the ballet, especially when companies visit local theatres. If we don't use them, we will lose them!

 

Edited to say no disrespect to the Nutcracker but it does frustrate me as a teacher that many of my students and their families don't realise how rich and varied the Ballet repertoire is!

Edited by hfbrew
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My daughter has practicaly said to me what you have already said hfbrew. 'Just to get into a company would be a privilege mum and when my career is over then I can get into a better paid job.' ENB is coming to the big theatre where I live, so I will definately go and see them with my friends. It sounds like you have had a wonderful career hfbrew and you are right happiness is more important than being rich, so long as they get enough money to live on.

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Tulip, you say “as long as they get enough money to live on”. This is indeed a problem, especially for freelancers who barely manage to earn the minimum wage. My son, a contemporary dancer (former RBS SA, graduate of one of the main vocational schools), has commented that he could earn more money working in a bar than he does dancing! He has been fortunate in that he has worked more or less consistently, on short contracts with well known companies/choreographers, since graduating 3 years ago. He loves what he does, but has to find ways of supplementing his dance income.

 

You say your daughter would feel privileged “just to get into a company”. I can totally sympathize with her view. However, companies can take advantage of this attitude and a dancer who questions the rate of pay may be told that there are plenty of dancers ‘out there’ who will gladly accept a low rate just to have a job. The consequence of this is that it drives salaries down for all dancers.

 

(rant over!)

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Joe Bloggs who would love to watch a ballet can't because of the prices

 

That should really be "thinks he can't because of the prices" - a "fact" which is reinforced every time a newspaper or something quotes top prices at the ROH and doesn't mention the bottom ones, which are still around the £5 mark for the Royal Ballet. Oh, I know that some people will turn up their noses at the view/seat you get for the money, but the question ultimately is: "How much do you want to see the ballet?" If you want it enough and that's all you can budget for, surely you'll go if you know seats are available at that price? (Leaving aside questions of whether you feel comfortable enough to visit the place).

 

I've mentioned this before, but in the good ole days pre-closure when the ROH used to send copies of its booking leaflets out to libraries, I used to pick them up and think what a tempting bill XYZ sounded. I never actually looked at the prices, because of course "everyone knew" that they were extortionate. Then one day I did, and went: "What do you mean I could have been getting (now) central amphitheatre tickets for £6 all this time?!!!" I really regretted all the years I hadn't been going because I'd just relied on hearsay about prices.

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That should really be "thinks he can't because of the prices" - a "fact" which is reinforced every time a newspaper or something quotes top prices at the ROH and doesn't mention the bottom ones, which are still around the £5 mark for the Royal Ballet. Oh, I know that some people will turn up their noses at the view/seat you get for the money, but the question ultimately is: "How much do you want to see the ballet?" If you want it enough and that's all you can budget for, surely you'll go if you know seats are available at that price? (Leaving aside questions of whether you feel comfortable enough to visit the place).

 

I've mentioned this before, but in the good ole days pre-closure when the ROH used to send copies of its booking leaflets out to libraries, I used to pick them up and think what a tempting bill XYZ sounded. I never actually looked at the prices, because of course "everyone knew" that they were extortionate. Then one day I did, and went: "What do you mean I could have been getting (now) central amphitheatre tickets for £6 all this time?!!!" I really regretted all the years I hadn't been going because I'd just relied on hearsay about prices.

I so agree with this. It really is possible to see ballet at a far more reasonable cost than many shows and plays. Obviously the time and cost of travelling is a factor if you want to come into London but why not then support Ballet companies visiting local venues? For example I've seen both Northern and ENB/Flawless at the excellent Waterside theatre in Aylesbury which is only a 30-40 min drivefrom me and parking is excellent. And theatres even closer to me have a Russian company visiting (with orchestra!) , Vienna Festival Ballet and the very high standard Ballet Theatre UK. I get quite frustrated that my students and their families seem quite disinterested in going even though they are regular ballet students. All of my local theatres offer discounts to children and students unlike many London venues.

 

Having said that I have often sat right at the back of ROH for far less money than local theatres and enjoyed a day out in London into the bargain! I personally like being far enough away to see the patterns of the corps de ballet!

Edited by hfbrew
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I get quite frustrated that my students and their families seem quite disinterested in going even though they are regular ballet students.

 

It's funny you should say that; someone we were with at the weekend was saying exactly the same thing.

 

Why do dance students/families seem to go to so few performances? I can appreciate the issue of cost - I travel out of my local area for most of my ballet-watching but I have been lucky enough to make friends with so many people over the years who are able to offer me a bed.

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Agreed! I take my girls to Wycombe Swan, Aylesbury Waterside and Oxford New Theatre to see many good ballet companies. Russian state and Northern as originally commented but also saw a fantastic version of Alice in Wonderland by ENBC in Oxford; ticket prices were good because children go half-price at New Theatre and what a lovely city to shop, eat and drink before and afterwards. Support your local theatres and ballet companies they need you. Oh also Richard Alston dance co always go to Wycombe Swan :)

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I have given up feeling frustrated with most of the girls and their parents at our local dance school (with about 250 students in total - most doing ballet) - as I could probably count on both hands, if that, how many have seen a ballet production. We have a good local theatre with ballet companies of various shapes and sizes visiting and I'm forever telling people how cheaply you can get tickets at the ROH. I am no longer surprised though as I've noticed that most parents aren't actually particularly bothered about watching their own children doing ballet, so why would I expect them to want to go and pay money to watch the professionals :wacko:

 

I'm going to have another go at organising a trip to see something - maybe if the school would take the children rather than having to have all the parents go too, at least we might get some children there even if their parents aren't interested (trouble is you need enough adults to take responsibility and could probably do with doing a risk assessment!!)

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I have seen Northern Ballet on numerous occasions and the State Russian Ballet of Siberia (think I've remembed the name!) at Milton Keynes theatre. Unfortunately moved to a seaside town and although we have theatres not much ballet.

Its such a shame when theatres don't show ballet but then again it could be that when they did it was not well supported. For example someone I know who went to see Ballet Theatre UK in Rhyll was heartbroken to see it less than half full. But I have it on good authority that they sold less than 100 for another visiting Ballet company! Needless to say that Theatre is now not on the touring list. So goes the saying, if you don't use it you lose it.

 

One of my friends canvassed her local theatre with the result that Ballet Theatre UK are now visiting Dorchester for the first time ever in December. So if you are anywhere near do go and support it. If its a success, you never know the Theatre may well bring more dance to the area!

 

And Julie you are so right about trips, it does at least get students to see the Ballet. Although like you I can not understand why parents pay for ballet lessons but somehow don't view ballet as acceptable adult entertainment! But sadly the red tape surrounding children is indeed a nightmare.

 

Incidently,going back to original post, my son got paid yesterday. Now its not great but it pays his rent and leaves enough to live on provided he doesn't over indulge on biscuits lol. But I had a text today saying that rehearsals were hard, he was sore but he LOVES the new ballet (Christmas Carol.) Contrast that with dh who had to leave for work at 5.30 am and had to deal with the aftermath of two suicides before lunch.... No prizes for guessing which person is happiest with their lot!

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Its the same for theatre. When my daughter was touring "Sense and Sensibility" some theatres were barely a third full.

 

I've just booked tickets for various things in Tun Wells. Not Ballet Theatre UK yet but it is on my list:-) I said to my husband if we don't support as much as we can it will close. On Sunday I saw the Billy Fury Story, but only half full, if that. I've just had an offer through for next week for some Agatha Christie, 2 for 1.

 

To travel to London is so expensive so we are going to try to support more local as much as possibel. Sadly we get little ballet here and none of the "big" tourers.

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It isn't necessarily the actual London ticket price, for us it's the cost of travelling into London as well!

 

Oh, I appreciate that: I quite frequently find myself having to pay more in train fares than the ticket costs, wherever I go, but Tulip's original moan was about the cost of ROH tickets, and the cost of fares has nothing to do with the ROH :)

 

I so agree with this. It really is possible to see ballet at a far more reasonable cost than many shows and plays. Obviously the time and cost of travelling is a factor if you want to come into London but why not then support Ballet companies visiting local venues?

 

Sometimes it is, but then at other times I find that the costs of tickets for some of these touring companies are horribly high. I realise they don't necessarily get grants or anything, but when there are no tickets available under about £30, as is the case for a number of venues I've looked at recently, they're hardly cheap. I reckon that promoters or whoever it is would actually do better on ticket sales if they had a broader range of price options and used the higher-priced seats to subsidise the lower ones to some extent: certain venues I used to go to precisely for that reason have stopped doing that now, and have put themselves outside my price range.

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I've just booked tickets for various things in Tun Wells. (snip).

To travel to London is so expensive so we are going to try to support more local as much as possibel. Sadly we get little ballet here and none of the "big" tourers.

 

ENB used to take Tour de Force there, didn't they, but now they've stopped doing that. I wonder whether reinstating something similar would be of more benefit to them than doing all those bits here and there that they've done in the last 6 months ...

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We find the Royal Ballet (and other companies) productions that are screened live at our local independent cinema are fantastic to watch - my dd says that watching so close up is amazing. She says she learns so much from it.

 

The ticket prices are very reasonable and there is no travel involved - yet every time we have gone the cinema has been half full at best (and she has been the youngest, at 15, by some considerable distance.)

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That's a great idea Klaris. The only thing that has put me off watching ballet at the cinema is that so far, the screenings have been on a weeknight and finished late. We're 30 minutes drive from the nearest cinema which would have meant a very late schoolnight. As dd gets older that becomes less of a problem.

 

With regards to the cheap seats at ROH, do remember that not everyone is physically able to make use of them. I need minimal stairs, extra legroom and the most comfortable and padded seat I can afford, just to be able to get through a performance. The ROH do give a small discount to Access Members but I still find I need an expensive seat there regardless.

 

Hence we tend to see ENB more often than RB as the Access discounts are better at the Coliseum. :-)

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Yes, the ROH used to allow access members far more generous discounts and a companion at the same rate but now they insist you have to be on benefits to qualify. It has effectively stopped me going so often as I feel that an organisation that gets such a large chunk of public funding should be more generous to its disabled customers .Not everyone qualifies for benefit but that doesn't mean an adequate income if you need special arrangements such as a companion. The Coliseum is definately more enlightened in this respect as is Sadlers Wells. In fact even my local theatres offer discounts and they are probably less able to afford to do so than ROH!

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Well our nearest theatre which has regular ballet companies visit is about 20 miles away from me. Last thing i saw there was Swan Lake by Moscow Ballet La Classique. The lead dancer was lovely,but the stage is tiny and they were dancing to taped music.Yuk.! Plus,i don`t drive,so while we were able to take the bus there,coming back we had to get a taxi home. £30 on top of the price of the tickets. Plus,in order to be able to get the bus we had to leave really early as the last bus into Armagh from Newry [where i live] is at 6pm. Arriving so early meant we had to get something to eat before the performance too. Plus,£10 for each programme.There were three of us,as i dragged my ballet-hating teenage son away from his X-Box for the night,but sweetened the deal with paying for a female friend of a similar age to come along too.The whole evening cost me a small fortune. Next time the ballet comes to Armagh,i`ll go on my own.! BTW,most ballet companies who visit Armagh do so for just one night. Every seat was sold out.

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I feel really lucky.... whilst we get no big (or small) dance companies coming to our lovely Victorian local theatre (I just go there and watch all the local dance schools' shows :-)), I can easily access Manchester, Leeds and the gorgeous Alhambra theatre in Bradford.

Edited by Kitschqueen_1
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Yes, the ROH used to allow access members far more generous discounts and a companion at the same rate but now they insist you have to be on benefits to qualify. It has effectively stopped me going so often as I feel that an organisation that gets such a large chunk of public funding should be more generous to its disabled customers .Not everyone qualifies for benefit but that doesn't mean an adequate income if you need special arrangements such as a companion. The Coliseum is definately more enlightened in this respect as is Sadlers Wells. In fact even my local theatres offer discounts and they are probably less able to afford to do so than ROH!

 

Even if you receive disability benefits you have to get a doctor's letter proving that you cannot go to the ROH without a companion, otherwise you just get a small discount. The Coliseum's Access Scheme is fantastic AND it's easier to book because even though (like almost all venues) disabled customers can't book online, it's a million times easier to book at the Coli. Last time I booked ROH tickets I had to hold on the phone for over 3 hours because Access bookings go through the main box office number!

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Alison I don't think ENB have been here for many a year. Certainly not from when mine were dancing. When Martin was seriously thinking of ballet as a future I decided he needed to go and see as many performances as poss. We went to Sadlers Wells a lot and were lucky to get discount tickets to the ROH. Locally I think we saw Moscow Ballet and the Ellen Kent ones. Sadly the Swan Lake we saw from her touring company (Chisnau ?) was awful. Other "Russian" companies visit too.

 

Mind you I'm not sure the assembly hall is great for ballet but I do remember a performance of Pas de Deuxs from a Russian company. Brilliant.

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