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Are we training too many dancers?


aileen
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This question is prompted by a couple of recent articles in which the author asks whether we are training too many actors. I'm sorry that I'm unable to post links to them (due to my incompetence) but they appear in The Guardian and The Stage. The point was made that in recent years there has been a large increase in the number of acting and theatre courses without a corresponding increase in jobs. Apparently, a large number of actors make less than £5,000 a year from acting and few make more than £20,000 a year. Some people argue that if there were fewer trained actors there would be more work for them. Now, I don't want to offend anyone by starting this discussion but I would be interested to hear whether members think that fewer dancers should be trained.

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I suppose it depends on the ultimate aim of the person undertaking the training.

 

One of my nieces studied drama and media studies at A level.  I worried how useful they would be but a friend who was a career advisor told me of all the life benefits that those courses could provide (eg communication skills, literacy, articulate-ness, analytical skills).

 

I know there must be as many life benefits from training in dance.

 

Does everyone who does such training want to have a performing career?

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Interesting question indeed.

When you look at the fact that only 50 girls in total are in the top 4 by year 10 (only half apx who started in year 7 still there( from around 600ish Auditioning. This 600 are the best in their local school. So you would think these 50 would be able to find getting into upper school easy but no at 16 the students which are the best 50 from many other countrys arrive to make the odds just as hard again! Then finding work is even harder!

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I'm afraid I would say that yes indeed we are training far more dancers than there are jobs for.  I think we have had some discussions about this before on old threads.  Apart from RBS which is a particular case, even at the most prestigious schools only the top handful from each graduating year will find jobs.

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And the same thing is said of law students and the availability of jobs in law, and sound engineering students and the availability of jobs in sound engineering,etc, etc! Many, many students of vocational studies (except, I believe, medicine) will find it hard to get jobs in their chosen field. It doesn't mean they couldn't or shouldn't try from the outset.

 

However, there is a problem, I believe, with the huge number of courses in various vocational fields (not just dance), which means a proliferation of various courses, often taught by "industry professionals". Often, teaching these courses has become their profession because of the lack of actual jobs in the field.

 

The colleges often promote the idea (they want all that student finance) that there is lots of work in that field.  Sadly, the reality can hit after three years of study and huge sums of money have been paid out. I, for example, work in a specialised industry, the subject matter of which is now taught at various universities. What is made less clear, however, is that your chances of being employed in that industry, even with your postgraduate degree, is very low, and your postgraduate degree is seen as more or less irrelevant.

 

Most dance students will be aware of how precarious their chances are from the beginning, unlike many students of other vocational fields, I think. A friend of mine trained as a physiotherapist - lots of jobs there, you might have thought. 200 applications for one job...

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I think this is a case of buyer beware.  Anyone who is seriously considering study in any field of endeavor with the desired end result being the capability of sustaining onself, must look at the reality together with one's desire.  

 

I don't think it is the task of the school and/or gov't to limit one's choices based on what the school or gov't considers "reality."

 

The aspirant should do the research, make the decision and takes  the consequences.

 

A young lion spends his life readying himself to challenge for the possibility of controling a pride.  He invests years, resources (food), energy and finally the possibility of being killed or badly mauled.  But the reigning lion is too strong and so our young lion sets off alone.

 

 Should he never have tried?  

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Guest Autumn days

Personally, I agree. I feel that there are far too many places available with new schools being launched all the time. Part of the reason, I think, is that our current culture does not allow children to fail and, therefore, those that don't get into the top schools are appeased by getting places at lesser schools. Yes, some will go on to have a career but my view is that if they are not suitable at 16 to get into one of the top schools, then I think a different career should be encouraged. That is not to say that they can't continue to dance recreationally and, ultimately, hey may even get more satisfaction from this in the long run. This is the philosophy that we adopted with my own dd when she auditioned for schools this year and she is now off to an academic 6th form with no regrets.

 

What is interesting is to consider what are the top schools. I suggest: RBS, Elmhurst, ENBS, Central, Rambert, Tring. I am afraid I can't speak for all genres so maybe others can add to the list or suggest changes to tose I have mentioned. I know that there are some contemporary schools that only take at 18.

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Many students who start full time training "late" do go on to have careers though and are possibly better prepared due to that extra couple of years maturity. And if they have already got A levels they may have also thought of back up plans.

 

If 16 was cut off point then we would lose many good dancers. I know of "late" starters at vocational schools who got classical jobs. And I have two 18 year olds embarking on full time training in September. They know the odds and already favour contemporary knowing that they are not classically orientated ( despite their awesome fouttes en pointe!)

 

And I didnt start full time til 18. Nureyev was a late starter too as was the great Paula Hinton (admittedly Im going back years now!)

 

There have always been more dancers than jobs. However I would argue that there are so many more opportunities now for students to have a dance based career. Once upon a time if you werent lucky enough to get a contract you either taught or just did something different. There are so many more neo classical and contemporary companies now and also opportunities for dance notaters, archivists, writers, promotors, dance therapists etc

 

I do think though that students should be prepared to broaden their horizons as these days purely classical companies hardly exist.

Edited by hfbrew
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For some vocational degrees the number of places are limited and new courses have to be approved (I am presuming that this is still the case anyway!). I dont see that as limiting peoples choices but ensuring that the quality of graduates are top notch. The problem with dance is that it is more subjective and things like physique are not fixed so that even if you dont get chosen by a top school it may not necessarily mean that you will be less successful in the real world than someone who was. There are also plenty of dancers who didn't go to the 'top' schools who still have a career in dance as a teacher, on a cruise liner, at Disneyland etc!

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Sorry, hfbrew, I mustn't have been clear!! The reason I made reference to some schools taking people at 18 was because I know they exist but can't remember heir names!! I simply meant that there may be some of these schools worth adding to the list as the ones I mentioned take 16 yr olds. Perhaps I should have said if people aren't suitable at 16/18 etc etc.

 

I realise that there are lots of related jobs but I suspect that the op was referring to performing careers, as was I!!

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I agree about there being too many lawyers attending the one year 'vocational courses' after their law degrees. Back in the eighties pretty much everyone could get a training contract with a solicitors firm, although it was always difficult to secure a pupillage with a barristers chambers. Now there are far too many would be lawyers chasing a shrinking number of training contracts and pupillages and many remain as unqualified paralegals in solicitors firms if they are lucky enough to get such jobs. In the past paralegals were school leavers with perhaps 'A' Levels. 

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Your question is interesting Aileen. What type of dancers are you referring too? Is this Ballet, Contemporary, dancers for MT, Jazz or Comercial? Any way maybe it doesn't make any difference about what type of dancer your question is aimed at. If the question is are we training too many dancers for the number of jobs available then the answer is probably 'yes'. Are all students embarking on a full time dance training programme expecting to get employment or just continue their training for as long as possible to the highest standard they can achieve either for performance or teaching opportunities? Who knows!

 

A few years ago there was a report on a review of DADA funding and the future. I had the impression that the review would have resulted in the funding being allocated to a smaller number of schools to those schools with the best employment rates (which the report quoted). No that's not what happened. DADA funding used to be allocated to children who scored highest is their auditions. Today they are allocated to children who first qualify for the funding (families who earn less than £70k per year) then second to those score highest depending on parents income. How a family who earn £70k before tax are expected to fund £25k worth of fees for 3 years out of £70k of income before tax is madness, the numbers don't add up.

 

Better to remove funding from under performing dance and MT/drama institutions and award the funding to the most talented children capable of getting a job (with sensible means testing) via a first class school, is money better spent by tax payers. Less dancers trained at fewer institutions meaning a higher % employment rate.

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If a person has trained full time to become a dancer from, say, 16 to 19 how employable is s/he in other fields? How well regarded are the degrees undertaken at vocational schools? Can a person easily get into university after vocational school, bearing in mind that some vocational schools do not offer A Levels? Would diplomas in dance be regarded as the equivalent of A Levels?

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If a person has trained full time to become a dancer from, say, 16 to 19 how employable is s/he in other fields? How well regarded are the degrees undertaken at vocational schools? Can a person easily get into university after vocational school, bearing in mind that some vocational schools do not offer A Levels? Would diplomas in dance be regarded as the equivalent of A Levels?

 

Is this a different question Aileen which needs a separate thread?

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I think that it's part of the same question. If dance training provides definite transferable skills and qualifications which are recognised by employers and university admissions tutors then perhaps it is reasonable to train more dancers than there could ever be jobs for. A large number of students has the opportunity to train and the best will get jobs at the end of it. This is arguably fairer than really restricting access to a very small number. I think that rowan makes a very interesting point about a sort of industry in training being created to provide employment for those who do not get jobs as performers. 

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Maybe that's why there are lots of graduates currently unemployed or taking positions which don't require a degree level qualification?

However your original post was

 

quote name="aileen" post="95901" timestamp="1402683436"]This question is prompted by a couple of recent articles in which the author asks whether we are training too many actors. I'm sorry that I'm unable to post links to them (due to my incompetence) but they appear in The Guardian and The Stage. The point was made that in recent years there has been a large increase in the number of acting and theatre courses without a corresponding increase in jobs. Apparently, a large number of actors make less than £5,000 a year from acting and few make more than £20,000 a year. Some people argue that if there were fewer trained actors there would be more work for them. Now, I don't want to offend anyone by starting this discussion but I would be interested to hear whether members think that fewer dancers should be trained.

 

I have responded to your original question. Are their too many dance student? If second best performance dance students are provided with vocational level training for performance , it's not good use of their time or public money as they won't get employment. In any financial climate training opportunities via publicly funded means should be limited to the very best when the cost is extraordinarily high, much higher than the cost of a lot of HE/degree courses. Training to be a dance teacher can be a different scenario versus performance taking a completely separate route as body shape and type unfortunately will come into play, but technical ability is still hugely important.

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I have had many students go on to vocational training.

And I dare say they are what Nana Lily is calling second best because they are not all at the "Big four".

 

They would be very upset at the inference that they are wasting public money. As would be the institutions who are equipping these young students to be very employable young people. Some of my ex students became dancers,one an editor of a well known dance magazine others transferred their skills and were/are very successful in other walks of life. They trained at the places best suited to them and are now independant members of society. And in employment!

 

I thought Aileens question about transition into non dance areas good. Afterall what happens if a talented dancer is injured? I had an RBS student in this position who easily got into University despite not necessarily having all the A levels required. And this is by no means unusual. I know ex vocational dance students at Oxbridge too. Having been in serious vocational training made them desirable candidates.

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My daughter will finish next year with a BA Hounours. If sadly she doesn't gain employment then she can either use her degree in the field of dance or do an extra year at Uni, converting into a teaching qualification etc. there will be many opportunities available to her. I do believe in a lot of top professions there are not enough jobs available , however I would like to believe that Britain will still produce top quality training in dance, and other professions otherwise we will just fade away and never get recognised for our big pool of talent.

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Just to add my thoughts......speaking as the parent of a dd who didn't get into one of the top schools and might therefore be considered less talented or second best or any of the other things , I am very happy for her to follow her heart for as long as she can.  She will come out with a qualification and with three years of hard work, discipline and hard training.  My husband works in a sector where 'having a degree' is the prerequisite for being considered for a position. Indeed one of the top managers has a Phd in Dance...she doesn't use it but uses all her years of training and dedication and applies that to the work place. She is very successful and highly regarded.  As for my dd, I hope she has three years of joy and fun and whatever she does I will be the proudest parent ever.

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Should the government be used to fund the training of dance teachers etc via the DaDa system? Of course, all academic etc teachers have probably attended university but more recently they will have had to take a student loan which has to be paid back. A dada doesn't have to be paid back!

 

I fully agree that there should be far fewer places available and that funding should be limited to the very best, regardless of income!! We all want the best for our children, of course, but sometimes following a dream for a few more years may just be putting off the inevitable and is not always a valuable life lesson!

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I fully agree that there should be far fewer places available and that funding should be limited to the very best, regardless of income!!

That's the way it is in France (POB & National Conservatoire) and Germany (Stuttgart, Hamburg...). No tuition fees and one pays only for boarding and not much at that...

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I also believe that vocational schools should be monitored more strictly in regard to students who have been awarded MDS or Da Da, where have they gone and if they were the best which companies are they dancing with? I have seen a huge amount of students who were awarded MDSs where their behavior and focus was just unacceptable and they have gone on to nothing. Where as I have seen other students who were also very good without an MDS who have gritted their teeth worked hard and have been successful. Now I have NOT said ALL students with awards are like this, but there are enough of them for the government to keep a much stricter eye on these schools. Perhaps even asking the question of how many left due to injuries, where the injuries due to normal circumstances or if there are a lot of injuries, is it poor teaching. But if I am being really honest I know of a group of girls who had MDSs and they were just so naughty. They went out drinking, yes at a young age, dancing the next day. Academically they didn't even try, two of them were bullies, all this and yet their gift of an award stayed with them into sixth form. Guesse what non of them now want to be classical dancers. The point I am making is awards are gifts, and lots of talented children really, really appreciate these gifts and take every opportunity to fulfil their training and education. However schools need to remove these gifts if a student is behaving in the way the group of girls I have mentioned above do, and these schools need monitoring to make sure this happens

 

Sorry to go of the subject, a raw nerve was touched he he.

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A few years ago there was a report on a review of DADA funding and the future. I had the impression that the review would have resulted in the funding being allocated to a smaller number of schools to those schools with the best employment rates (which the report quoted). No that's not what happened. DADA funding used to be allocated to children who scored highest is their auditions. Today they are allocated to children who first qualify for the funding (families who earn less than £70k per year) then second to those score highest depending on parents income. How a family who earn £70k before tax are expected to fund £25k worth of fees for 3 years out of £70k of income before tax is madness, the numbers don't add up.

 

 

I'm having trouble posting a copy of the DADA flowchart but here are the first stages.

 

 

Student applies to institution and is auditioned 

 

The institution ranks the students in order of talent

 

Institution offers a place (Not funding) to the student

 

Student provisionally accepts place and confirms they want to apply for funding

 

Self declaration form completed

 

The institution records the students on the Budget Management Spreadsheet in order of talent

 

Using the information in the self declaration of income the institution offers provisional funding to students in order of talent, until the budget is spent ( no offers to be made before 1st March)

 

CDET/Drama UK undertake clearing on a monthly basis btw April and August and arise institutes were students are holding places.

 

Student choose their preferred institution and formally accept a place and receive DADA application form.

 

 

I realise this isn't about 'too many dancers' but do think the dc that have been awarded DaDA both this year and last need to feel it is on merit. The dc that were ranked highest heard first if they definitely had funding and then the institution goes down the list until the pot is empty. And yes I have great sympathy with anyone who is above the £70000 cut off because I know it would be the end of my dd journey.

 

And back to the topic - we have struggled with this dilemma this year. DD wanting to carry on at vocational school, being offered sixth form places but hearing of others who have graduated and are struggling to find contracts. Will she find employment at the end - who knows but she wants to try to follow her dream. She is realistic and knows at this stage in her life she would be unhappy not to try having been given the opportunity. Who knows what the future holds for any of our dd or what path they will ultimately follow.

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I have had many students go on to vocational training.

And I dare say they are what Nana Lily is calling second best because they are not all at the "Big four".

They would be very upset at the inference that they are wasting public money. As would be the institutions who are equipping these young students to be very employable young people. Some of my ex students became dancers,one an editor of a well known dance magazine others transferred their skills and were/are very successful in other walks of life. They trained at the places best suited to them and are now independant members of society. And in employment!

I thought Aileens question about transition into non dance areas good. Afterall what happens if a talented dancer is injured? I had an RBS student in this position who easily got into University despite not necessarily having all the A levels required. And this is by no means unusual. I know ex vocational dance students at Oxbridge too. Having been in serious vocational training made them desirable candidates.

 

 

'I say you did' make an incorrect assumption from my post hbfrew. I made no mention of the big four. Are you referring to ballet only? I wasn't. I made that quite clear in the opening line of my first post. I am referring to schools where DADA funding is available and the schools have a documented poor record of employment. I am not insulting your students, you made a big leap there...... There are many schools outside the big four which have first class employment , Northern is one of those. There were two MT schools on the report who had phenomenal records of employment, they produce dance students as well as MT students.

 

DADA funded (and AND drama) Schools who have consistently underachieved shouldn't continue to be funded. DADA funding was set up to provide funding for the most talented students. The review was a good idea, it's just that those with the purse strings didn't follow the advice of their own report. Their are many routes to continue dance training at an FE and HE level where children can follow their dream, grow and learn and come out the other end with life long skills which they can apply to all walks of life and contribute to society.

 

As some posters feel Aileen's second post is appropriate I will add one fact.

 

If you have taken the 'conservatoire' route by doing a degree at Rambert, Central or RCS, and you want or need to continue your studies in another area should you be injured, have a change in heart, or are unable to get dance employment, you can do 1 further year of a degree which can be funded by Student Finance, but that's all, so you may find your DC in a situation where an additional degree or HE course will need to be paid for privately. It's the same if you have done an HND level qualification at say Ballet West or a BA in dance at a university. I

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