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Supernumerary Experiences & Prospects


BeaverElliot
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In North America (CAN & USA) I have come to realize that it is not unheard of for A-list companies to recruit individuals to be cast in supernumerary roles for the run of a production.  This applies to the more elaborately staged ‘period costume dramas’, where having a sizable number of extras up on stage helps to create a visually grand scène, given that very few companies nowadays can afford to keep a really large company employed.

 

So I have started this topic to learn what other people’s direct experiences have been like: applying / auditioning for super roles; and through which companies and types of productions did they gain their insights.  

 

Maybe in Europe it is rarer for super roles to be offered(?).

 

What did you find satisfying (or otherwise) about the experience of being up on stage with A-list professionals, however minor was your role?

Edited by BeaverElliot
grammar
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A professional ballet company generally has a certain number of dancers on its payroll.  When a company wants to mount a production that has more roles on stage to fill than there are people in the company, they look for other performers from outside of or beyond the company ranks to fill those additional roles.  Super means above, so supernumerary performers refers to extra, supplemental performers, over and above the complement of performers in the company.  These extra personnel take on minor roles, such as servants, guards, bystanders, heralds, pages for example.  There may be modest stipends paid for covering out of pocket expenses, possibly pay, it depends .  (Guest artists are not supers.) So it is a free lance, one off gig.

Edited by BeaverElliot
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My Dd was chosen a few times from school to dance with the company, I think what she found most rewarding was being in class with the professionals and on the whole being treated as an equal, generally most dancers were friendly and encouraging regardless of rank. 

Post school as a member of a graduate scheme she was chosen to tour with the parent company. Lots of dance experience, treated very much as part of the company but no financial reward. Over night hotels were paid for but no food so over a period of time became very expensive as had to eat on the go constantly. We were having to pay for the graduate scheme too. As the placement drew to an end she was offered a place in the company ‘if she didn’t need paying’ 

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Scottish Ballet once had roles like these for Romeo & Juliet - they wanted “normal” people to be the adults. I know someone who  did it a few times being Juliet’s dad! He was more featured than some other people, they did a bit of acting & very minimal movement (rolling) but more than just standing around. He wasn’t a dancer by any means but had performance experience, not sure if everyone else did. I’m sure they got paid & were very much seen as part of the company.

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