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Question about being in a company


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#1 cspeich

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 09:39 AM

I am writing a story and one of the main characters is a professional ballet dancer (male). I really don't know anything about ballet except for what I've googled so I've got lots of questions from people actually "in the know".

To start out with...my character is in a company (such as The Washington Ballet as the story takes place in DC) and I guess he would be one of the principals since he dances the lead male role? How exactly does that work - how are the characters assigned to dancers? Would he have to audition for each different ballet? (He's been in the company about 10 years) Are lead roles rotated throughout multiple dancers in the company? How far in advance are roles cast? How long does it take to rehearse for the shows?

The two ballets that will be included in the story are Sleeping Beauty and Giselle. I don't know yet if there will be a third.

Thanks for any help. I'm sure I'll have more questions as I get further into my plotting...

#2 Ray

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 01:47 PM

I am writing a story and one of the main characters is a professional ballet dancer (male). I really don't know anything about ballet except for what I've googled so I've got lots of questions from people actually "in the know".

To start out with...my character is in a company (such as The Washington Ballet as the story takes place in DC) and I guess he would be one of the principals since he dances the lead male role? How exactly does that work - how are the characters assigned to dancers? Would he have to audition for each different ballet? (He's been in the company about 10 years) Are lead roles rotated throughout multiple dancers in the company? How far in advance are roles cast? How long does it take to rehearse for the shows?

The two ballets that will be included in the story are Sleeping Beauty and Giselle. I don't know yet if there will be a third.

Thanks for any help. I'm sure I'll have more questions as I get further into my plotting...


Your questions sound rudimentary enough to warrant more extended research, perhaps actually speaking with a dancer or artistic director in person, or sitting in on some rehearsals. You might also read a book like Dance Is a Contact Sport: A Season with the New York City Ballet by Joe Mazo.

#3 LiLing

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 03:32 PM

You should take a co. member out to diner and pick their brains. Dancers like free meals. :< )

#4 Ostrich

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Posted 06 January 2010 - 10:21 AM

Yes, if he dances lead roles he would probably be a principal, or perhaps a leading soloist.
No, he wouldn't have to audition, the roles would probably be assigned to him by senior management/artistic staff, possibly by the artistic director.
He would probably not be the only one dancing the role - most major companies have at least 2 casts performing the same roles.
Difficult to say how far in advance the roles are assigned and how long the rehearsals will take. It depends on the company, the ballet, whether it is a new choreography or one the dancers are familir with. Two months isn't unreasonable, but it can be more than that, or less.

However, there are so many details which can be 'pitfalls' if you don't know them (and we can't possibly warn you against them all, as we don't know what you are writing), that i suggest you follow the advice of previous posters and chat to a dancer. It may also be a very good idea if you can find a dancer willing to read your story to check on the details. For example, is your dancer attending his daily (morning) class??


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