If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been quiet lately, here’s why: Mum’s the word. I can’t really talk about what’s been going on with Julian–not yet. Why? He’s been auditioning for ballet companies and getting…well…recruited.
Yes, it seems a bit like having a young baseball, basketball, football, or soccer player who is being recruited by a variety of professional teams before he can even consider college. Of course, in Julian’s case, college dropped off the table a while ago. But he’s had days when he couldn’t even study for a test because he kept getting calls form artistic directors.
Now, let me just say that the audition season at the School of American Ballet is a bit longer than it is for the average ballet boy who goes out to auditions. In fact, all the auditions were over and artistic directors simply kept on showing up to watch the Advanced Men’s Division at SAB take class–and then to make offers.
The last have come and gone now, though. And just about all the boys in the Advanced Mens’ Division 17 or older are spoken for. Unless, that is, they have been told they might have an apprenticeship at New York City Ballet. These few boys (and girls) are anxiously waiting to hear if this dream will come true; it seems contracts are not handed out–or no firm offer made–until just before or after Workshop. Those performances are June 3 and 5–long after everyone else has accepted a position.
A few companies are waiting on these kids, hoping against hope that they won’t get a NYCB apprenticeship. A few of these boys might be left with no job if they’ve turned everything else down or artistic directors got tired of waiting and the NYCB apprenticeship doesn’t come through. Peter Martins is the only one who waits until June to decide, keeping many young boys and other artistic directors waiting on his final decision.
Lest you think Julian is one of the boys waiting on Martin’s decision, I will tell you this: He is not. When he first received an offer and he also had his summer intensive scholarship at San Francisco Ballet, where he is supposed to be on the “watch list” for a trainee position, word was sent to Martins. This is normal procedure, so he can say whether or not he wants this boy to hold off for a likely NYCB apprentice position. The message came back that the apprentice spots were spoken for already, and that Julian was “a beautiful dancer who should be dancing. If he has an offer, he should accept it and go dance.”
Julian was very disappointed, as was I. NYCB was his dream job.
(Knowing what you now know, you might surmise that he is, therefore, still making some sort of…um…decision.) Again, mum’s the word.
I can tell you that having a son at SAB is an advantage when it comes to auditioning for companies. There are simply more opportunities–or ones you don’t have to seek out.
As for how many jobs there are, I can tell you that everyone, including the teachers and school director at SAB, agree there are less jobs this year than ever. I guess the economy has taken it’s toll on the ballet industry as well. So, the older boys were all told to audition and to take jobs if they could get them. In fact, even those boys who originally were told they could return next year–like Julian and at least two other boys turning 18 over the summer–have all been told that they cannot come back. They have all received at least one job offer.
That pretty much cleaned out the older group of boys from the program. (Lots of spots open for next year…)
If you are wondering how young boys land a ballet job, you go to an open audition. Some are held in places like at San Francisco Ballet School, Alvin Ailey or SAB, or at some other large ballet school or dance facility. These are “cattle calls” in some cases; there are lots of boys and girls and it can be harder to get noticed.
If there are no large open auditions, you arrange to take company class as an audition. This means you show up at the ballet company at an arranged date and take class with the company; the artistic director watches and decides.
Contracts are given out each year. Dancers in each company have the option to renew or not to renew. Companies are restricted to some extent as to how many dancers they have, so without attrition, there may not be any spots for new corps dancers. At NYCB, some apprentices were let go this year, for example, and not promoted into the corps. New apprentices will come on. But if there are no corps spots open, no one gets promoted.
That’s it for now. We have lots of stress and drama going on, but it’s all good, and we are all trying to trust that it will all work out for the best. I always do. Julian has always landed in the right place at the right time. I’m sure this first job will be no different.
I should have news within a week…