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mom2tall

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Reply with quote  #1 
BalletTalk has been sort of quiet the last year so I'm hoping you or others with dancing kids can provide insight on the senior year process.  DD is a senior and will take at least a gap year, maybe more if something works out for her dance-wise in the next 2 years.  She applied to 2 colleges, was just accepted to the one she prefers but doesn't want to pursue a BFA and will go when she is ready to resume academics full-time.  She is a tall dancer, 5'9" or just under and is getting ready for SI auditions and perhaps some company auditions in NYC as we live fairly close.

My main question is should she audition for as many summer SIs as possible? She has the big names that have some tall dancers picked out to attend plus quite a few smaller ones that seem to have taller dancers from company photos, word of mouth etc. Her thought is rather than email them first about height, she should audition at as many as she can and see what comes her way and then email them about height/trainee/2nd company possibilities. For example, Sarasota's company audition says women need to be no taller than 5'8" - she is tempted to go for that anyway. Richmond is 5'7" but they have accepted taller trainees.  Most smaller places require you attend their SI anyway for possible trainee selection.

Also, what if she gets into a big name SI? Most seem to take so few from summer programs but I guess it depends on how well-known the program is and if a smaller program would allow her to do that and then return to them in the fall. Or is this even a possibility?  Her best/favorite summer intensive was at a smaller program not the bigger more prestigious SIs she attended.

She will of course discuss with her school directors and teachers but I'd appreciate any tips/thoughts anyone out there has.
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi mom2tall  - I think every journey is different.  DD is also considered tall at 5'7".  I would never email anyone about height - that's just asking for no, or even worse, a yes to take your $30 for no reason. Most auditions ask if you are interested in trainee/year round positions on the SI application, so I doubt she will have to ask many questions.  And I think you are right, most want the kids to attend the SI before they offer anything else.  That's why it's so important to pick a place where the odds are high that she is a good fit.    

We already had the SI's researched as far as height goes during her junior year.  She ended up going to BalletMet's audition very early her last year, she was offered a scholarship to the SI and a trainee position on the spot.  After doing more research, she accepted a week or so later. She didn't want to go to a large SI her last year or to more than 5 or 6 auditions...she wanted to keep the numbers down and just go to the few that seemed to like taller kids, had decent budgets and good reps.  Richmond was on the list, as was Kansas City...that was 4 years ago now - I can't even remember the others. That doesn't mean your dd shouldn't go to 30 auditions if she's done the research and it's worth it.  Our plan doesn't necessarily work for anyone else. I will tell you that she had a friend at Sarasota for a year and the entire company was very, very, very thin.  That was 3 years ago.  Things change quickly, AD's come and go. People get let go with no notice (L.A. Ballet).   You can plan, but things don't always work out the way you want them to.  So much about getting hired is being in the right place at the right time and being very good at both contemporary ballet and classical.  Almost all companies have contemporary pieces in their reps now.  It's also a huge plus to be able to pick up choreo after seeing it once and being able to learn choreo from a video, which is very difficult because it's backwards.  I cannot tell you the number of lost kids trying to learn from video dd's first year at OBT as a trainee.  

One way to tell how things are going is to find the current budget for the company you are considering.  If the budget gets bigger every year, that'a a good sign. If it's getting smaller, be worried.  I will tell you from our experience with professional companies for the last 4 years, they know who they are hiring long before summer.  It is rare to get asked to stay for any position other than the school/trainee positions.  Contracts are signed in April, notices are given in April. They know what they need loooooooong before even most professional auditions take place.   Both female apprentices for OBT (in addition to dd) came from OBT2. The 2 male apprentices auditioned by class, not cattle call. One principal woman was hired from another well known company, as were a couple of men.  Twelve people were asked to stay year round for OBT2 - all from the highest level of the SI. Some are there for a second year.  Not all companies hire from within, so if you can find out what the "in-house" hire rate is by looking at bios, that's a good sign too if she accepts a trainee position. I wish I had a magic formula but there isn't one.  Doing as much research ahead of time and picking the companies that look like the best fit is my best advice!  Good luck!!!!!!!!
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ballerinamom13

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Reply with quote  #3 
mom2tall- also, if you aren't already, start reading Ballet Alert. You have to sign up separately from BTFD and I think they have to approve you to see all the topics, but it's worth it. Look up the threads about the companies you are interested in. Sometimes there is very good info about the direction of the companies and how they are doing. Please keep us posted. I know it's a nerve wracking crazy time.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #4 

Dd has taken an unusual direction with all of this.

She became frustrated and was mentally ready to leave her long time school her junior year. So, near the end of that year, she researched and found some programs that did not outright require SI attendance for acceptance. I recall that she had an acceptance from Nashville and I think Pittsburgh. I also think Richmond might have been another. She also attended an SI that year and applied for a position there, but was ultimately told she was too young. 

At that point, she decided she wasn't really ready and decided against a trainee program and we went on a hunt for a school. She went to her SI program that summer with the intention of spending a post-grad year at then ballet school in NYC. It is not an uncommon thing there. There were dancers up to their early 20's in her level. Anyway, she was offered a position at the end of the SI and the rest is history. 

As already mentioned, there are some companies that draw from SIs and/or those auditions and some from company auditions. It's a crazy confusing time. Dd will be jumping back into it all, really for the first time! She's never done an actual company audition before. For those, she is spreading a wide net. Some require sending photos and video links in order to even get invited to audition. 

I would likely go for the more likely possibility than the big name, unless the big name program also has a big enough program that she could possibly be accepted to for the following year. For ex, I wouldn't likely do ABT unless there was already some big time interest because it is a large program and the studio company is fairly small and often stacked with dancers they've been eyeing, one way or another, for a while.  Washington Ballet, on the other hand (not quite as big of a name I guess) has a much bigger trainee program. Even PNB, probably her dream at her height [smile], has more possibilities than ABT at this stage of the game. Just my opinion. 

I like what Balletmom13 pointed out about looking at how many have come up through the levels. In the last 2 years where dd is, only 1 second company member even attended the SI. They all came from company auditions. That 1 who went to the SI was a male accepted to the trainee program and promoted to second company when a contract fell through before the trainee season even started. Other than that, since they added the second company, not a single trainee has been given a contract. So, at this point, I don't think it is a pathway to the company. Dd thinks she is still a good match for the company and hopes to audition in the future, after going elsewhere first. She doesn't consider her time there a waste. She is getting some excellent instruction and a lot of "finishing." 

 



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Mitzy

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Reply with quote  #5 
My tall daughter is a professional ballet dancer. She did few auditions in senior year, but her path has been a little different due to an injury, surgery and then an illness. She was never a trainee, but went directly from a school to a paid apprenticeship, having had some opportunities to perform with two different professional companies while still in school. My advice would be to send video links to as many companies as she can, and not hesitate to use any and all connections within those companies to find out about current heights and make connections with directors. As mentioned, height preferences within companies are always changing, so don't go by rumours that "everyone at PNB is tall", or even posted height limits, such as for Ballet Met (they currently have tall men and women!) However, one would have to be truly exceptional to be hired directly from high school, so keep an open mind to places that would provide great training and great performance opportunities. Best wishes!
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fishoutofwater

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Reply with quote  #6 

Oh boy.  I need to follow along with this thread.  My 13 year old is 5'9" and still growing (has not even started her period yet, so her doctor thinks she could easily have another 2 or 3 inches to grow).  Her dream is to be a Rockette, just started en pointe this year (after a year in pre), but she just wants to dance professionally is some capacity.  Need to follow the market for tall girls  [smile]

 

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mom2tall

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hi all,
Thanks for the replies all of which are very, very helpful and I will share with DD. I had forgotten about Ballet Alert so will start looking there. DD is working on a video link and photos as soon as Nutcracker is over and I hadn't thought of her just sending it out everywhere, but what the heck - it seems worthwhile.  More research on that!

I do sense after this somewhat disappointing final year at her school that she will be looking for training/trainee level programs for next year as she is not quite ready for a company. With so many parents willing to fund further training, it seems a new system of 2-3 additional years of paid training post high school is now pretty typical for all but those rare few. She has been to ABT in the past but is not on their radar currently so that is great info. I also had thought Ballet Met was full of shorter dancers, so advice on how height is variable year to year is also appreciated.

Hopefully even more will chime in.  Best of luck to your DD Tendumom as she starts auditioning. I hope you won't mind sharing her experiences as they unfold.
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #8 

I agree that this system of a few years of post-high school training is becoming the norm for a majority. 

I did watch last year as many of the second year trainees at her program did get positions elsewhere. All low level positions, but most were paid to some degree. So, that gives me some hope. 

We viewed it as not very different than going to college for dance. Those dancers train for another 4 years and then audition for positions, competing for the same positions as those currently in trainee or other tuition based programs. 

I will say the training dd has gotten has surpassed what she had in high school, even at an audition based school. The hours are considerably more and they include "academics" once a week which are really mostly discussions on things like creating a resume, auditions, injury prevention, etc. These talks have gone beyond what she learned at various SIs as well. Granted a lot isn't new material, but it's been very helpful for her. 

But every program is different. The program that she thought she really wanted to attend after high school, the one she was too young for the first time she applied, turned out to be something she didn't want. While this program is not tuition based (no pay either), she learned that they don't dance as much as she does at her current program and they barely perform in comparison. Where she is now, there are frequent outreach performances, opportunities to dance with the company (few are chosen though except for the big shows like Nut), and student concert type shows 2 or 3 times a year as well as a recital with the students of the school. She is always performing. 

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joriebelle

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Reply with quote  #9 
Tendumom, if the dancers are having post-high school training, is that at regular dance studios where they're paying tuition or is it through ballet companies?  
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tendumom

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Reply with quote  #10 

Most that I am aware of move on to either company schools or other excellent ballet programs. 

We were talking about the prevalence of trainee programs that charge tuition today. Some call the program a second company, some trainee, and others have some other names. A generation ago, this was not the case. Dancers were hired on as apprentices or in second companies or even as trainees (paid or unpaid) without a tuition component.

 In our case, dd seriously debated staying at her school for another year, but it was not a local ballet studio. It was an audition based program that attracted students both from within the region and around the world to a degree. She thought she could use another year of finishing. The faculty thought she was ready to fly away.  They were right, but she needed to see that for herself. Note that I said faculty, not "her teacher." One advantage of leaving her local school was going somewhere with a very involved, knowledgeable faculty with more contacts in the industry and up to date information. Many local schools are run by a very small group of teachers without quite as extensive contacts nor current knowledge. 

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