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Artistic Directors visiting schools/employment processes


Moneypenny
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I'd be very interested to hear more about how the audition process works for graduates through the final year ... Do ADs come into schools or is it a case of the grads travelling as far and wide as they can, or a combination of both? Are jobs advertised, is it just grads that are seen or do they join open auditions. How much help do grads get from their schools? It's all a bit of a mystery to me at the moment.

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Our experience is of Central so may be different at Elmhurst. Graduating students do a combination of open auditions, invited auditions and DVD/CV selections. Some ADs also come into the school. Open auditions are so busy - my DS turned up at one for a contemporary apprenticeship (a paid one!) one hour before it was due to start and he was number 301 in the queue! It definitely helps to be in a school that has good connections with the dance industry so auditions are smaller.

 

The staff at Central do give some advice re career direction, potential jobs. However, the emphasis as we knew it would be in the last four months is on the Ballet Central which my DS has found a really worthwhile experience.

 

It does appear to be a tough year for securing a dance job although things change every day.

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I have just read this thread with interest and being the mother of a DD who graduated from dance school last year I find it extremely frustrating that we are having to fund numerous trips abroad for her to attend auditions only to hear now that AD's actually visit ballet schools such as RBS and ENBS to select new dancers!.

 

I have never understood why companies here such as RB and ENB don't hold annual auditions like practically every other major company abroad. Same with this new apprentice scheme at RB. I presume they didn't hold an audition for this or we would have heard.  I don't know if they're being paid, but I know that my daughter would jump at the chance to train there and would gladly do it for free!.  one of the girls they have taken on trained abroad and isn't even a recent graduate but has already completed an apprenticeship  with Stuttgart ballet. Of all the talented graduates in this country to choose from, do they really need to take someone from abroad? 

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*Do* the ADs routinely visit the schools which are not 'connected' with their particular company? I seem to remember reading about some RBS students going to ENB for an audition a few years ago.

 

Sylvie, I can understand your frustration. Would you be prepared to tell us a bit more about the process of applying for jobs on graduation?

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I started this topic as a recent thread about Elmhurst graduate destinations has also been discussing whether company ADs visit schools, and the process in other schools. I have cut and pasted the above posts from the Elmhurst Graduate destinations thread.

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Many moons ago when ENB was still called Festival Ballet, they were obliged by their charter to hold an open audition every year. This was before they had their own school.  So I, along with over a hundred other dancers, took part a couple of times.  As far as anyone could see, nobody was ever offered a contract from this audition.  The rumour was that dancers at RBS had already been seen in their class, and routinely they were offered the jobs.  So would holding an open audition really help?

 

Most auditions these days are by invitation only. With the advent of electronic communication, applicants send a CV, personal statement and photos and/or video. Just getting an audition sometimes seems a triumph!

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My daughter set about making applications for companies even before she graduated and Berlin was the first audition she did. As it was an open audition and not pre selection, there were more than 300 girls there. She did well to get through to the end as more than half the people were cut after the barre but she vowed never to attend an open audition again!

She wasn't given a great deal of guidance by her school to be honest. We both googled all the companies she was interested in joining and sent off the CV and photos as well as looking at Network dance and dance europe magazine for jobs.

She always wondered why people from RBS and ENBS weren't at the auditions but still got contracts with companies, now we know :)

The cost is enormous as she usually has to stay overnight in a hotel and sometimes with pre selected candidates the companies make you wait ages before sending you an invitation. I actually took a chance with Bordeaux and the Paris opera companies and booked the flights before she got the invite.  I'm beginning to believe that it's a case of not what you know but who you know and I've told her to actually call up a director to ask for an audition rather than just send a CV and hope for the best. With Berlin, the director took one girl from the 300 plus auditioning, but I noticed later, or rather my daughter did, that a girl she knows who wasn't at the audition suddenly got a contract a month or so later, no coincidence that the girls teacher was a  friend and former colleague of the AD.

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Sylvie, I hate this situation too as my daughters will soon be in the same position but isn't it how it actually works in all areas? Networking seems to be the best option to get a job...

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I think that very few new graduates join the RB from anywhere other than the RBS and I suspect that the AD doesn't feel the need to visit other schools. The only exception seems to be Prix de Lausanne winners who come for a year's apprenticeship. Graduates from the RBS also secure many of the contracts going at the other UK companies. Reid Anderson, AD of Stuttgart Ballet, said recently that for a number of years he hasn't looked outside the associated school as it supplies all the good dancers that the company needs.

 

Sylvie, what is your DD planning to do now? Did she audition for ENB's in-the-round productions last year and this year? I believe that they recruited around 30 dancers for the swan corps in Swan Lake.

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I believe Mr O Hare selected the 4 apprentices from visiting the schools. The two RBs girls were already working with the company as all their grads do. The 2 ENBS girls he saw in class. He is bound to be on good terms with his former BRB colleague now ENBS Director of Dance Miss Saidi.

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My daughter didn't apply for ENB in the round due to her committments and audition dates,  and yes we certainly  will ask RB about the apprenticeship application process but I do think that so many good dancers are being missed who could be dancing in UK companies if only AD's would be more open to seeing other people at audition before making a selection. 

 

Melissa Hamilton is an example of someone who was rejected by RBS and even advised by teachers at her school to give up ballet at one point. only with the encouragement and belief of Masha Mukhamedov did she make it through, but even then, it was a phone call to Monica mason that got Melissa an audition at RB company... I always remember seeing Melissa on a summer school video before she even went to Elmhurst and thinking, wow, who is that girl? she was already amazing then.  I just wish that AD's would take more chances rather than stick to their usual methods of selection.

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What a fascinating thread. It's a tough choice our DC have made. There is a whole world of difference between training professionally and actually making it to a professional. As an ex professionally trained dancer myself I know this only too well. I never wanted my son to dance for all these reasons and more, but it kind of happened and I can't deny him the chance (and it is a small chance). Looking back there has been real heartbreak on my part, which took me years to come to terms with, but I can honestly say that i would do it all again in a heartbeat. I wish all of your aspiring dancers all the very best of luck in their lives, they have gained immeasurable gifts along the way. Some will reach their longed for goals and others will have to reassess but they will all be richer for trying.

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Do US students need to ask their director of dance directly  how the different companies recruit and where they should apply? It seems from what Sylvie has said that there's a lot of uncertainty about how the 'system' works and how much goes on 'behind the scenes'.

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DH took DS and his girlfriend to Dutch National Youth company a month or so ago, as she is due to start there in August. She got offered a contract after sending in a dvd audition and her teacher calling the director. DH had the opportunity to quiz the AD of the youth company in great detail about the process they use. He said they have around 2,000 applications for their 12 places. He said they do go to competitions but in his opinion competitions are for the people who are not at big name vocational schools to get noticed-either to get a scholarship to a big name school or an apprenticeship. If you are already at a big name vocational school he thought there would be no point doing a comp as most ADs (certainly he included himself in this) would almost certainly look at an audition dvd if you sent it in. I am not sure what he included as 'big name' as DH only asked him if he included DS's school in that category and that is not a UK school so I can't give you any intel about UK (but surely RBS at very least must be included). 

For us we were reassured that DSs school's decision not to field students to the competitions would not harm his chances; having said that this is only one ADS so maybe the others have different views.

Not sure if this helps or not!

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CeliB, well done to your DH for being upfront enough to ask direct questions of the AD of the Junior Company of DNB. Most parents are (understandably) a little intimidated by the ballet world. It sounds tough if you are not at a 'big name' vocational school, whichever they are. It's interesting to hear that the school contacted the AD. That suggests that graduates need schools to advocate for them. It makes you wonder how many truly 'open' auditions there really are. If there are 2,000 applications for 12 junior company positions which last two years I wonder how many graduates there are worldwide each year.

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Yes graduates need their schools to advocate for them, very few have professional experience to call upon for reference or recommendations. The flip side to that is that schools need to advocate for their graduates. It's essential that schools are able to produce good outcomes for their students in order to keep their funding and attract the best students.

 

This thread reminds us that in the ballet world, the higher up the ladder you get, the harder it is to get onto the next rung because the number of opportunities reduces much quicker than the number of dancers competing for them does.

 

Graduate employment rates seems like a good addition to the checklist when filing out those application forms, and taking all those photos and looking at funding options.

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I have to say I am also quite appalled that DSs ballet school does NOTHING to help them make an audition dvd. They have to do it themselves (mostly by propping their laptop up in the dance studio and filming themselves doing class). Although DS is quite sanguine about this I can't help wondering why the school (in whose best interests it must be for the students to do well) don't help in any way. Or maybe they have found it more useful to concentrate their efforts on ringing up the DNB etc!

Yes DH has more front than Blackpool- and coming from the film profession is used to working with big name actors, so not in the slightest bit intimidated by those in the higher echelons. I would have been cowering in the corner pretending to be a chair or something- which is why I never go to these things!

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Having said that, when a student is below the age of 18 you do have every right to question. However at my daughters previous school if you were to question the director of dance, this in our experience was then taken out on the child.

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I can only tell you how the process worked at RBS US a few years ago. In the autumn term the graduates had to list the companies that were of interest to them and then they had an interview to discuss their choices. Then it was up to the them to arrange auditions of which most of these were open so RBS students were on a level playing field with everyone else at the audition. It cost us £££ in flights, accommodation etc. On his own initiative my DS did make a DVD but it would have been less stressful if the school had made this process part of the graduate year. As for visits from AD's, I can only remember him mentioning a couple. I would say that the majority of his year group found their jobs via the audition process.

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Read  all these comments with interest and am surprised and shocked that it's not only my DD's school that doesn't help with audition dvds,  My daughter really needs to get a decent dvd of classwork and 2 variations together to send off and I don't like the idea of an amateur selfie done in haste.  If anyone knows of someone  who does this kind of thing please message me (greater london area)

I wish everyone's DC the best of luck in finding a job out there but for us at least, from what I've read, it's going to take a small miracle. ;)

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