CriticalDance Forum

Odds of turning PRO?
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Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Sun Feb 19, 2006 8:15 am ]
Post subject:  Odds of turning PRO?

I unearthed the below from an interesting article about what former-NBS student Neve Campbell was up to. The odds certainly appear very slim indeed of making it into a prestigious school – let alone a professional company. And how many of those who dance for a professional company stick or rise to a position above the corps de ballet?

Actually, “start” isn’t strictly accurate. The stage isn’t a foreign country for her. Like many other girls who’d studied ballet from the age of six, she dreamed of ballet school. At nine she auditioned with 2,000 others for Canada’s prestigious National Ballet School and, alongside six others, got in. “We started off dancing a minimum of five hours a day plus academic work. It’s such a big thing to be there – you’re constantly made aware of that.” Nevertheless, five years later, with solo appearances with the company already under her belt, she became the first person in 50 years to quit the school.

I have searched for this before with no luck. There doesn’t appear to be any statistics on the odds of making it in ballet. Food for thought for those in school: Do your homework! If you only exercise your body what will happen should you need to exercise your brain? A gorgeous toned body is nothing with a flabby, out–of-shape brain. :wink:

Author:  ksneds [ Wed Feb 22, 2006 7:32 am ]
Post subject: 

Hmmm....I think some of the 'stats' quoted in the article are rather suspect. Methinks the writer knew nothing about ballet and was cobbling together an article that made it sound interesting.

For one, it's certainly hard to get into the top ballet schools, but not 6 in 2000 hard. I know at the Royal Danish Ballet school, about 12-15 are taken from 200-300+ applicants and the odds are worse as far as getting into the SAB full-time program via summer program auditions.

Plus, I can't imagine any ballet school that would have nine year olds dancing 5 hours a day. RDB students start out with 1 hour per day, and I think at SAB it's not more than 2-2.5 hours per day until they are 12 or so. It's more a matter of taking class six days a week, not umpteen hours a day. Perhaps she was referring to ballet related stuff - rehearsals, music, dance history classes etc.

Also, I find it very hard to believe that no-one's ever quit the NBS School before. Most people don't make it all the way through places like SAB, NBS, RDBS etc. - either they lose interest, grow too much/little, get injured, decide to go to a different school or don't make the cut.

Perhaps an interesting article, but hardly one to use in judging the odds of making it as a pro.

Perhaps the best approximation could come via the Royal Danish Ballet School, which auditions 8 - 12 year olds every year for places in the school. I think 200 - 300 audition, of which up to 20 are taken for the intensive course at the end of the summer. Usually, I think the actual classes end up being no larger than 12.

Each year students must pass an 'exam' to continue, and at 16 (the end of year 10 in school) students are old enough to receive an apprentice contract. By that point there's rarely more than 3 students left in each class. Most years there are two new aspirants, but in some years there's no-one, or only boys or girls, at the right age.

Which suggests that of those who audition for the schoo, about 1 in 200-300 will ever make it being an apprentice. And the odds will be slightly worse for making it into the company. Some of the students may find jobs elsewhere, though the structure of the school is very much aimed at producing RDB dancers, so it's not as likely. I'd guess that the odds of at least finding a professional job are slightly better at places like SAB, NBS, Royal Ballet School etc, given that there are more companies and dance opportunities in the US. But again, we are talking about a very selected group of students who make it beyond the basic levels in the professional schools - i.e. if you get to the upper levels at a place like SAB, you're likely to have pro potential.


Author:  Michael Goldbarth [ Wed Feb 22, 2006 6:59 pm ]
Post subject: 

Thanks for sharing the above. I too was a little surprised at the odds quoted. I wouldn’t blame the writer though as I assume Neve Campbell was her source for the numbers. No company would release the actual odds, as I’m sure it would deter some parents from enrolling their children.

Of course, even if you don’t make it, you still benefit through fitness, discipline, team building skills, and a top education. I know that NBS stresses a balance between dance and education. One hopes that no one feels like a loser if they don’t make it as a professional dancer. There are so many factors beyond your control.

Author:  mom2 [ Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:05 am ]
Post subject: 

I'm sure there are more than a few dancers out there chortling after reading that Neve Campbell was the first person to ever leave NBS. that said, I don't know the names of anyone who left before she did, but I have no doubt that SOMEONE did.

The other numbers given were pretty accurate I think, and similar to the ones the school gives out about its audition tour. The only thing I would point out is that the 2000 would be ALL who auditioned for the summer program; about 150 would have attended, some of these invited to stay, and the smaller number would reflect how many dancers Ms Campbell says were in her class that first year.


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