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Radio 4 Any Questions.....Ballet needing recruitment from overseas

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31 minutes ago, Katniss said:

Err.... in my DD class at WL height makes no different to quality of pointe work or indeed to jumps . At 5’8  (& she’s not the tallest !!)It seems my dd will definitely be seeking work overseas rather than U.K. purely because of her height... at the moment. However , this might change as it depends what dancers are in the company; the opinion of the AD etc..


As I said it’s not a reflection on individual dancers but a general observation that if you look at the physics many movements will be somewhat easier if you are a bit shorter. There are many other attributes which come into play and white lodge are obviously very selective. We’re not a particularly tall country,  although there are taller dancers in most of our companies the mid range in height are going to be more versatile. If a company advertise for one dancer in a certain height range I’d presume it’s to provide a partner, in which case it’s not discrimination. 

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15 hours ago, leotardmum said:

This is on Northern Ballet  page  that i noted when internet browsing and wondering why NBT struggle when they too have a school/pathway  like RBS etc 

Audition

We are looking for male & female dancers.

You should be open-minded, creative & imaginative with strong classical technique and pointe work, exceptional partnering skills and strength.

Closed audition, by invitation only, will be held in Leeds on Sunday 2 February 2020.

Height Requirements

Ladies - minimum 150cm & maximum 164cm
Men - minimum 175cm & maximum 182cm

 

164 cm is only 5ft 3.8 inches   i noted for NBT , as many girls are now getting taller then   height / build still sadly comes into this whole career business, another topic in its own right  of course ....... of all the dancing kids in UK the RBS only takes 12-15 girls a year   and several of those are from overseas  so the number of home grown UK kids gets smaller still and still not all them will go on into companies at the end plus many get assessed out and replaced with other girls / overseas students along the way     .....i do often wonder at times what iam letting my daughter get herself into  at times as lots of kids trying to get thro the 'pinhole' into 'vocational'  schools'  never mind then the even smaller 'hole in the door'  of getting a contract directly from a vocational school ...... there seem to be plenty of auditions all over europe i note following a FB group  but that all costs money to attend plus of course they may only have 1-2 jobs open  so i suspect many must drop off after training  and enter other careers    .....  diversity if of course needed but as a parent i have to stop and have a reality check every now and then about how difficult it can be to get on stage with a company  and encourage my daughter to get educated properly and think of all the other avenues for work   just incase this one route  of 'dancing with a company ' gets blocked ....keeping our kids diverse in dance and mind is becoming increasingly important .... 

Most companies seem to be erring on the side of slightly taller dancers at the moment so Thankyou goodness there is one company that is looking for slightly shorter ones!!!!!

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I think height restrictions are generally specified for aesthetic reasons - if you have a very tall or short dancer in a company it can look just wrong.  

 

Most ballet companies specify height preferences in audition notices - it saves people from wasting time if they are definitely not going to get the job.

 

Different companies have different guidelines depending on the make up of their company.

 

For a company like Northern Ballet their height restrictions might change over time as the make up of their company changes.  

 

 

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My DD is fairly short and unfortunately was under the minimum height requirements for most of the (largely non classical)auditions she was interested in. Dancers do seem to be getting taller. I guess this simply reflects the increasing height of the general population, which in turn is a reflection of improved nutrition and living standards over the last few generations.

I've recently obtained the Forces records of a number of my ancestors as I have been tracing our family history, and I was stunned by how small they were. For example, my grandfather's measurements when he joined the army in WW1 were almost identical to my DD's, and by the time he was discharged he weighed less than she does! We are quite a short family its true, but I've got measurements from before the Boer War to the present day, and the general trend  for height and weight is upwards, with quite a steep increase after WW2. Looking at clothes in museums I would say that the trend I've observed in my own family is not particularly unusual. 

I guess height is probably slightly less of a factor for the most talented dancers - if you are a soloist it perhaps matters less that you "match" the rest of a company - but on the whole I imagine we will see a continued trend for slightly taller dancers than a generation or two ago. 

Edited by Pups_mum
Typo
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The list of shortage occupations includes lots of creative and creative-affiliated jobs, more than you might expect. There’s a very interesting article from last summer that explains why. One telling phrase says it is about needing access to worldwide talent rather than any genuine shortage. https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/news/national-shortage-artists-immigration-rules-creatives-relaxed

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48 minutes ago, rowan said:

The list of shortage occupations includes lots of creative and creative-affiliated jobs, more than you might expect. There’s a very interesting article from last summer that explains why. One telling phrase says it is about needing access to worldwide talent rather than any genuine shortage. https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/news/national-shortage-artists-immigration-rules-creatives-relaxed

 

Thank you Rowan, that's an interesting read.

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47 minutes ago, rowan said:

The list of shortage occupations includes lots of creative and creative-affiliated jobs, more than you might expect. There’s a very interesting article from last summer that explains why. One telling phrase says it is about needing access to worldwide talent rather than any genuine shortage. https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/news/national-shortage-artists-immigration-rules-creatives-relaxed

Thanks for the link 🙂 From the article: "He added: “It’s not really a shortage; it’s about talent.”" - I wish people would just be honest about this instead of spinning it as a shortage. It's the cover-up that's infuriating, not the search for worldwide talent.

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10 minutes ago, glissade said:

Thanks for the link 🙂 From the article: "He added: “It’s not really a shortage; it’s about talent.”" - I wish people would just be honest about this instead of spinning it as a shortage. It's the cover-up that's infuriating, not the search for worldwide talent.

 

I suspect that it has been treated in that way to stay within the current immigration rules.

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16 minutes ago, Jan McNulty said:

 

I suspect that it has been treated in that way to stay within the current immigration rules.

I agree .... that's what the article is saying. And it's precisely that reason that's the annoying part of it all - why not just be honest and make an immigration rule that says, "Creative industries are exempt under the same terms as those on the shortage list because they require freedom to attract worldwide talent" ...?!

Edited by glissade
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The problem with shortages in the creative arts is that it doesn’t matter that there are X number of unemployed British ballet dancers. “Ballet dancer” is too generic a term. The shortage is of a particular type of ballet dancer, with the right artistry, musicality, height, style, training, fit, je ne sais quoi, etc, for a specific company at a specific time. You can see it on this forum too in the Performances Seen section, admittedly more relating to soloist roles. One dancer is not the same as another. They all have something different to bring.

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So it's like saying .... there are loads of painters in the UK, but we've got a chapel ceiling to paint and we want Leonardo Da Vinci to do it ... and there's a shortage of Da Vinci's in the UK

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Very interesting article Rowan, thanks for posting.  I think it just reflects that we now live in a mobile global society.  In some ways it reminded me of the old days when all performers had to be members of Equity and have their membership card to apply for a job.  New performers could only have a provisional card which only allowed them to work in the provinces e.g. Summer Pier shows and Pantomimes, and only a few establishments could grant a limited number of provisional cards!  Performers (actors, singer, dancers) needed to clock up a certain number of weeks (can anyone remember, was it 42?) of paid employment before they could apply for a full card and then audition for major productions.  

 

However, if a classical dancer was good enough to be employed by a ballet company they got their full card immediately.  The system was abolished in the 1980s.

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On 22/02/2020 at 16:54, Jan McNulty said:

I've no idea but the numbers of nationalities in various companies have been discussed ad infinitum in the past and I'm sorry but I haven't got time to go through the British company rosters yet again, let alone foreign companies.

 

Thanks Katherine.

 

also  stuff like ' That Cuban ' 😉  now  has a British passport ... so is he  British or Cuban for these purposes .. 

Edited by NJH

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On 24/02/2020 at 14:54, Waitingmum said:

Most companies seem to be erring on the side of slightly taller dancers at the moment so Thankyou goodness there is one company that is looking for slightly shorter ones!!!!!

As the parent of a tall (172cm) girl in graduate year, I wish I could say this is our experience so far this audition season! (early days still I know!) But there have been numerous auditions she has been excluded from applying for because she is taller than the stated/preferred height - this is in Europe also but seems to be especially so for the few companies who have advertised so far in the UK. (We haven't looked at USA Canada etc)  Obviously, this will vary from year to year -  we have been told by some (mostly smaller) companies that they are looking to hire to replace certain dancers and their requirements might well change each time they advertise. However, I much prefer companies to be upfront about this in their adverts saving unnecessary travel and accommodation costs and valuable (and paid for!) time missed from training!  

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On 22/02/2020 at 21:29, DD Driver said:

In ballet, I guess the worry is if you close doors to foreign students then your own students and dancers will lose access to opportunities overseas.

 

Also, connected to this, is when some companies require dancers to have attended their own schools in order to join their corp or apprenticeship program.

This pushes overseas students to join the associated school when they might otherwise stay training in their own country - quite happily - for as long as possible.

If our 'world class' ballet schools all closed their doors to foreign students, then they would have the capacity to train up far more local ones, who would then be at the required standard to be able to obtain work in the UK. Then not only would the companies not need to look overseas to fill their corps, but British dancers wouldn't need overseas opportunities - they could find work here.

 

As far as I'm aware, there are no companies in the UK which require their dancers to have attended their own schools in order to be offered a place in the company. 

 

At the moment (in my opinion), many overseas students have already completed their training overseas and only come to the UK for a final 'polish' in one of our upper schools (so they have a prestigious name on their cv), and so the schools can cream off the best of international talent so their graduate success rate looks good. The graduates then frequently go straight back overseas to join the companies waiting for them, where they have already been offered contracts, having been 'noticed' at prestigious competitions such as the Prix (which most British students aren't even allowed to enter).

 

 

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The trouble is with that idea is that fans of the Royal Ballet would have missed out on seeing dancers like Marianela Nuñez, Vadim Muntagirov, Marcelino Sambé, Federico Bonelli, Steven Mcrae et al.  

 

Don’t get me wrong, I greatly dislike the practice of taking students into - for example - Royal Ballet Upper School for a year or two but then assessing them out and replacing them with a competition winner for a year.   I think this is bad practice, as is the odd occasion where various ADs have said publicly that British ballet students are “lazy” or “lack drive”.  

 

However, to go from those bad and unhelpful practices to closing our schools to everyone except British students is a huge leap and one that could only rob ballet audiences of some truly exceptional dancers.  And what is ballet without an audience?

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And how many British dancers have we missed out on, because they never got a chance?

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, taxi4ballet said:

As far as I'm aware, there are no companies in the UK which require their dancers to have attended their own schools in order to be offered a place in the company. 

 

At the moment (in my opinion), many overseas students have already completed their training overseas and only come to the UK for a final 'polish' in one of our upper schools (so they have a prestigious name on their cv), and so the schools can cream off the best of international talent so their graduate success rate looks good. The graduates then frequently go straight back overseas to join the companies waiting for them, where they have already been offered contracts, having been 'noticed' at prestigious competitions such as the Prix (which most British students aren't even allowed to enter).

 

 

 

You may not be required to attend the school to get into the company but attending the school is seen as very the best option for selection.  Surely this is the thinking of UK students too? 

 

In my experience (in Australia), overseas students trying out for places in UK vocational schools are sincerely hoping to gain a place in the company associated with that school.  Just as UK students would approach this.  They would of course hope to get another contract if that does not happen.  I don't know of anyone who went just for 'polish' and had other options already lined up that they intended to pursue.  Maybe that is a Prix de Lausanne phenomenon? 

Edited by DD Driver
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