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Bex does ballet

How much help Finding jobs do schools give?

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To be frank, I’m not sure that anyone should be optimistic about chances of getting a job in ballet. In fact, realistically, it’s downright idiotic to aim for it. You are much more likely to get a decent dancing job if you aim for other types of dance.  It’s hard to comprehend when your child is younger and all things seem possible, no matter how much you read about the odds.
 

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An honest reflection Rowan, and I don't disagree that you are much more likely to get a decent dancing job in other types of dance,  but if people didn't have dreams and aim to reach them there would be no ballet companies, no theatre, no orchestras, no elite sportsman, no doctors, no research scientists, no astronauts (sorry got lost on a tangent there)!

 

I love the saying...'If you shoot for the moon you might land among the stars'.

 

Aim high - you may not end up where you thought you would but you but you will hopefully end up somewhere better than if you tried.

 

I remember my dd, in her final year of training, sitting us down and explaining how narrow the odds are of getting a ballet job.  Quickly followed by her saying she was going to audition for every dance job she could.  She didn't end up working as a ballet dancer, but did have wonderful experiences working as a dancer on cruise ships.

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And the pay, benefits and lifestyle can be incredible with some cruise lines. The competition for cruise jobs is just as fierce though as some companies are auditioning all over the world all year round!

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Walking the line between realism and crushing dreams is very hard indeed. If success is judged only as getting a contract with a classical company and remaining in regular employment as a ballet dancer, then yes, you would be mad to even try as the chances of attaining that are minimal. But I don't personally believe that to be the case. Lots of "failed" ballet dancers go on to have happy and fulfilling careers, some related to dance, others not. I think that dance enhances life, whether we do it or watch it. I believe that there are numerous transferable skills and it is likely that many of those who have trained seriously in ballet (or other art forms or sports come to that) are better at whatever they end up doing as a result of that training. Realism is good, but so is ambition. I believe that as long as someone is following their dream because they truly love it, not just because they want to "win" then it is not a waste, even if the end result is not what was first envisaged. 

It is sensible to know what the odds of a classical career are, and to have plans B, C, D and E of course. I am experiencing this whole thing again with my youngest child who wants to be a professional sportsman (middle one has his heart set on engineering.....thank goodness, as I am not sure I could cope with 3 journeysof this nature!). Much of the same applies. He probably won't make it big, but he loves it, it keeps him fit and off street corners/violent computer games and there are multiple transferable skills. He has plans B and C at least. I've learned a lot from DD's dance journey, but nothing that stops me making all the same kind of decisions again, we just have more insight. I was going to say"It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" except I don't think that not achieving the original goal is necessarily losing. 

I do write from the privileged position of being able to support my children's dreams without major financial hardship to date however. I might feel differently were that not the case. I do think more transparency about graduate destinations should be available to allow dancers and parents to take more informed decisions, especially if they are going to be financially compromised as a result. Were it possible, I think it would be more useful to know where dancers are 5 years after graduating, not just what their first job is.

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Back to the question-Has any had any positive experiences of their vs helping them to find a job? I’ve been very disappointed in what I’ve heard lately and the lack of care or interest Some schools have .

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12 hours ago, Moneypenny said:

And the pay, benefits and lifestyle can be incredible with some cruise lines. The competition for cruise jobs is just as fierce though as some companies are auditioning all over the world all year round!

 

An ex-colleague of mine was THRILLED TO BITS when her daughter started working as a dancer on the cruise ships ... lots of seriously cheap holidays for her parents!!

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I do think it’s difficult for ballet schools that are not affiliated with a company to help a great deal. There will be a limit to the number of contacts they have, the number of company class invitations or invited auditions they can wangle. And they probably can’t - or won’t want to? - get them for all their ballet students. Even if they can get some, it doesn’t mean there are any actual jobs going. And can they keep that up year after year? There are also a lot of ballet schools out there in the world - the world - the vast majority of which most people won’t have heard of. It can be easy to fall into a trap of thinking that X Not Famous ballet school won’t be much good and their students are no threat, otherwise they’d be at somewhere “better” = well known. This is not the case at all. In fact, it may sometimes be the opposite. 

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15 hours ago, rowan said:

To be frank, I’m not sure that anyone should be optimistic about chances of getting a job in ballet. In fact, realistically, it’s downright idiotic to aim for it. You are much more likely to get a decent dancing job if you aim for other types of dance.  It’s hard to comprehend when your child is younger and all things seem possible, no matter how much you read about the odds.
 

I agree it’s important to be realistic about the odds and have that plan B ( & C). Sometimes being realistic can descend into despair   So, my comment about optimism was mostly about the fact that it’s possible to at least be invited to auditions without huge support from the school in regards to arranging photos, dvds, solos etc. The next bit is in the lap of the dancing Gods. 
We have been disappointed by the lack of support for, or interest in, these aspects and this led me to wonder wether our experience was unique to the school ( or cohort within the school) or maybe my expectations around this were unrealistic - hence the original post.  
I’m feeling better having read about your daughter’s experience, that dd can at least make it work enough to get auditions. The rest will be what it will be! 
I really do appreciate your reply and insight! 

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12 hours ago, Darcey15 said:

Back to the question-Has any had any positive experiences of their vs helping them to find a job? I’ve been very disappointed in what I’ve heard lately and the lack of care or interest Some schools have .

I’ve been surprised, maybe I have unrealistic expectations! 

Edited by Bex does ballet
Edited for rambling!
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41 minutes ago, rowan said:

 There are also a lot of ballet schools out there in the world - the world - the vast majority of which most people won’t have heard of. It can be easy to fall into a trap of thinking that X Not Famous ballet school won’t be much good and their students are no threat, otherwise they’d be at somewhere “better” = well known. This is not the case at all. In fact, it may sometimes be the opposite. 

Absolutely! But those “better” “famous” ballet schools trade on their reputation  and a large part of that includes the publishing of graduate destinations so I’m surprised that there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of help given to students to prepare for the audition season. Are they just hoping that the ‘name’ will do all the work for them? That would be a mistake in my opinion. 

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Realistically, what support or help would you want from a ballet-focused Upper School?

 

Is it on a par with help for UCAS applications for example, where there are a range of practices? Would it be useful to start listing here the concrete things that any school could do to assist graduates in finding work.

 

As Rowan says upthread

>>I’m not sure that anyone should be optimistic about chances of getting a job in ballet. In fact, realistically, it’s downright idiotic to aim for it.<<

 

With that realistic view in mind, what could US do to maximise the chances for their graduates?

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It might be worth having a look at the bios of dancers from various companies, in Europe, say, and see if you can see where they trained, bearing in mind that websites might not be up to date and bios can be misleading, by mistake or on purpose. You might for example see RBS, but that actually means “was a JA” or “left after one year”, omitting the years spent doing solid top-notch training at no-name school.

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24 minutes ago, Kate_N said:

Is it on a par with help for UCAS applications for example, where there are a range of practices?

I don’t think it is equivalent to this. It’s more like, what support does a university give to its graduating students to find a job? On average, not much, I’d guess. It’s for the student to be proactive and seek out what they need.


However, I think as a minimum, a ballet school needs to lend out its studio for the taking of videos or photos, with coaching for a solo, if this hasn’t been done already.  Plus, a suggestion of where to look for jobs, websites, etc, for those without a clue. But really, students need to have a clue. Unlimited time off for attending auditions. It would never occur to me this wouldn’t be granted. The issue of using connections is tricky, because no doubt this might not be opened up to all students.

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Out of interest, how does the help (or lack of) in job seeking from vocational upper schools compare with that provided by more mainstream academic institutions? I don't recall there being much help from Universities in my day, though admittedly it is a very long time ago now and things may have changed. And I am not sure how much most sixth forms do for their leavers, beyond what is necessary for the UCAS process. My children's (generally excellent) academic school sends out a lot of careers information its true, but most of it is very generic and is along the lines of "these open days are available if you are interested." They provide some general pointers but its really down to the students and their parents to actually make anything happen. Its been the same with work experience. School provided a list of local employers who have taken students previously but expect the kids to arrange things for themselves, especially in 6th form, as it is meant to be as close to a "real world" experience as possible.

So I guess what I am asking is are the vocational schools out of step with the rest of the academic world or not? How much is it reasonable to expect any institution to do on behalf of its students? I don't know really.

Edited to say sorry, cross posted with rowan!

Edited by Pups_mum
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28 minutes ago, Pups_mum said:

Out of interest, how does the help (or lack of) in job seeking from vocational upper schools compare with that provided by more mainstream academic institutions? I don't recall there being much help from Universities in my day, though admittedly it is a very long time ago now and things may have changed. And I am not sure how much most sixth forms do for their leavers, beyond what is necessary for the UCAS process. My children's (generally excellent) academic school sends out a lot of careers information its true, but most of it is very generic and is along the lines of "these open days are available if you are interested." They provide some general pointers but its really down to the students and their parents to actually make anything happen. Its been the same with work experience. School provided a list of local employers who have taken students previously but expect the kids to arrange things for themselves, especially in 6th form, as it is meant to be as close to a "real world" experience as possible.

So I guess what I am asking is are the vocational schools out of step with the rest of the academic world or not? How much is it reasonable to expect any institution to do on behalf of its students? I don't know really.

Edited to say sorry, cross posted with rowan!

Academic schools do have a statutory obligation to provide a career related learning programme for students from year 7, which should be led by a named career leader, who, along with the programme offered, should be detailed on the school’s web site. There should also be 1:1 guidance provided (by an internal staff member or bought in) by a suitably qualified practitioner (L6 career guidance qualification) for every student who needs it. This is inspected as part of the new OFSTED framework and in my professional experience is being taken seriously in many schools across the country. I wish vocational schools would consider the support students need to understand the labour market, recognise where they might fit and provide appropriate individual support for the student to get where they would like to be. There is so much more that could be done and it makes me very cross that not everyone gets the help they need. 

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That’s interesting, Karen. The problem with vocational schools is that many students start at them at 16 and they may be studying for degrees or diplomas or whatever. Many are much more like higher/further education institutions, as we see from all the threads about funding, etc. Would that make a difference re statutory obligations/Ofsted?  I don’t know if it would be different if you were in the same institution from 11-19. 

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I think Rowan, that where vocational schools are inspected by OFSTED for their academic programmes, this would apply. There should be a career related learning programme in place in any 6th form. Where vocational schools/ colleges have no OFSTED link, ie, no academic inspection, there is no statutory obligation as far as I’m aware. Would still be good practice to follow this though, 

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3 hours ago, rowan said:

On average, not much, I’d guess. It’s for the student to be proactive and seek out what they need.

 

At my place, we offer quite a lot! We have "Employability" sessions within the Department about every 3 weeks or so (so about 8-10 over the year). They are VERY poorly attended. Sometimes embarrassingly so when we have external experts. We spend quite a bit of money overall - now coming from the tuition fee.

 

And still our students say they get no advice or help <sigh>

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