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No graduating qualification - does it matter?


Oakley

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Hello everyone, 

I am looking for some advice please.  I'm 16 years old and have the opportunity to study ballet with amazing teacher privately over the next 2 years.  The only downside that I'm thinking of is that I wont have a recognised diploma or certification.  

Do you think this would be a problem when it comes to audition for Company jobs?  For those of you who have been through the process already, have you ever been asked for your qualifications?

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Hello Oakley and welcome from me too.  I think much will depend upon how good your teacher’s contacts are, by which I mean students might be invited to audition for companies via their Upper School, or Artistic Directors may visit certain schools to watch classes and performances.  If you are not training at a school then obviously you won’t get seen in that manner but if your teacher is a highly respected ex-professional who still has a good network of contacts who are company directors then that could be a way to get invited to audition.

 

Your other option is to apply to join the third/graduate year at a good Upper School after your two years of training.

 

Is there a particular reason why you would choose to train privately rather than at an established school that would give you a Diploma or Degree?  I’m just thinking of worst case scenarios; say you got injured and couldn’t continue training or for some reason you didn’t get a dancing job, having a qualification or even A’Levels does give you more options for alternative careers. 

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As Anna says, it’s more a case of plan b, than not being seen at audition. 

 

Many professional performers have gaps gaps in employment where they do other things. They may teach for example. It’s a precarious profession and all it takes is an injury or change of circumstances and having no kind of qualification limits your options somewhat. 

 

Assuming you are academically able enough would studying A levels via distance/online learning maybe be an option?  That would open the door to higher education in the future. 

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Please also consider that, if privately try to cover all dancing subjects that are covered at vocational upper schools, even ballet-wise, not just ballet class, but pas de deux, character, contemporary, history of ballet/theatre, stage make-up, repertoire (not just as a solo, but most importantly as part of the corps - as it is the most important at the start of any young ballet dancer starting at any company), so group work is very important. Also, if possible stage experience (again as part of a corps) - and this is mostly only possible when you're at VOC. school, as have a run at Royal Opera House with Royal Ballet company what is for RBS students only, or with Birmingham Royal Ballet, or English National Ballet and the list going on. If privately, those opportunities are fades away. If possible, I think the best option is to go to vocational school and have some private coaching along the way, but if not, try to cover core ballet disciplines at least. And at the auditions it's more about you and your facilities/training as a potential ballet dancer than the Diploma alone, so good luck! 

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I am sure you have many things to consider in making this choice.

 

Some inspiration from Melissa Hamilton who trained privately for a while with Masha Mukhamedov, and Danill Simkin who trained with his mother (ex-ballerina) for 2 hours a day whilst attending normal school

 

 

 

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In an audition nobody cares what qualifications you have - most countries don't have formal degrees and diplomas, yet their dancers are as successful as those from UK vocational schools. You could supplement your private training with Summer intensives and other high level short courses.  However the posters comments above about plan b are very relevant. Would you be able to fit in academic study for an A level or two? A local college or on line courses might work.

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Although nobody cares, you need to get invited to auditions in the first place!  Hence Anna C's comments about contacts.

 

Two examples from DS' experience.  His first company had a lot of students who had previously attended one particular school.  I won't say that is what got him the place, but I think it certainly helped to have that school name on his CV.  It also meant, from a practical point, that he had a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend to share a flat with when moving abroad at a young age.

 

His second company he was surprised to see one student there.  However, it transpired that the student's ballet teacher knew the company director.

 

If my DS was training privately I would certainly take advantage of the opportunity to have a better plan B than is possible in many vocational schools. 

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It doesn’t seem to matter. My DD doesn’t have any “qualifications” in ballet and is a ballet dancer. No grades, diploma or degree but does have three A levels. Never did a competition or had a private lesson. No directors came to her ballet school. She got lots of audition offers - based on her video submission - and a few job offers. I suppose there will be auditions she applied for that she didn’t get but I didn’t hear much about those! Her teacher did get her a couple of auditions but neither resulted in an actual real job.

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Thank you all very much for your input, I definitely don't feel so stressed about it now.   

Apart from regular ballet class, I do Pas de Deux, character and acting.  The only thing really that I don't do is Contemporary and I do feel this is a key piece.  I will also have the opportunity to perform with an associated Company a little in my second year.

I will certainly look into A levels via distance learning.

Great idea regarding trying to get into a 2nd or 3rd year of a school after my second year, it hadn't even occurred to me that this was possible!

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Contemporary would be very useful; even the most classical of companies now have some Contemporary in their repertoire.  

Graduate/3rd years at schools often hold auditions for outside students, especially schools like Central whose 3rd Year is a touring company.

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Hello Oakley,

The advice regarding distance learning is good. And you should line up contemporary lessons or attend strong contemporary summer schools courses and masterclasses.Investigate whose round you. Look for pop-ups.

Off the top of my head, spend time and have fun with Rambert if they arrange anything, Rosie Price, Emily Charlton,  and the other strong contemporary schools featured for example on The Greatest Dancer. So many great teachers  out there. Try the Escola de Dança de Conservatorio Nacional, Lisbon, Easter or summer schools; Quorum Ballet summer school, Lisbon;  Longiano, Italy,  summer school; Elephant in the Black Box, Madrid; Brussels summer school. Look out for the Gaga Vocabulary workshops touring presently. Maybe look for courses that integrate a showcase at the end to do more ensemble work. Look up Move It and check out the contemporary classes there.

The idea of a post grad year is also a good one.

My daughter is now enrolled in the UK on a self funded vocational dance course that will include teaching methodology, so a double qualification and something to fall back on, but she is adding to that two A levels for now with a tutoring program attached to the school. She will be looking for company jobs soon and does not intend to do a post grad year even though she could convert it all to a degree now, as she hopes to do an academic degree later, for which she will reserve her Student Loans funding. The thing that may hinder her for company jobs  will be her age as much as any thing. She will be finishing, company ready , barring injuries God willing, and yet still not have reached 18.

Most of her old European colleagues that have been in specialist vocational training will be looking for jobs with just their sixth form qualifications and 8th Grade Vaganova level  or similar, usually with no trouble. Those that have attended more past-time schools,but are interested in dance, normally go on to the degree course to improve technique there and develop choreographic skills or teaching skills. But there are many children being snapped up at 12, 13 for international vocational schools and doing their education in their home language and system; others integrate into the new school system if they have to. Many move around for months at a time to work with certain teachers in certain styles, and end up extremely versatile and independent. In my opinion this can give them an edge. If you stay independent, you could have this choice too. To pick up and move to spend time in interesting places working with different dance pedagogues. Something to talk about with your mentor, who knows what connections they have. 

There are just so many ways to achieve your goal, but that's just it. It is your goal and if you want it , you will find the way and work hard to succeed, because there is no short cut, but lots of choices.

There is so much useful information from many people here with diverse experiences to be gleaned here. I find it fascinating as I am sure you do. So keep asking. Someone is bound to know the answer or where to look and probably have lots more names to add to the list above.

Wishing you all the best.

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