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Helene

Cincinnati Ballet Starts Professional Training Division Initiative

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Always glad to see programs that help young artists make difficult transitions. 

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I wonder how this is different than the trainees that they had in the past. Their website used to list a few second company members and quite a few trainees. Now they list a slightly larger group of second company members but there are no trainees listed. Pictured in the article are about twelve young ladies who I assume are in the "new" program, but I can't help but wonder how it is different.

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These pre-professional programs are popping up all over the country at smaller company academies. Tuition is steep, although I see scholarship offers that probably help. One thing that seems to make them easier to set up is the proliferation of charter schools and on-line academies. Colorado now has an entirely on-line high school that students in their pre-pro program can enroll in to complete their education. As a retired educator, I'm not sure I'm crazy about these, but I guess there's no turning back at this point. I have no sense of how many of these students will really make it as professionals, but they're getting an early taste of the profession and perhaps at least some will realize they need to explore other opportunities, including college dance programs.

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Corps that pays to dance: That's how I see these programs. I get it: ballet companies can't afford to pay enough dancers to mount the productions they'd like to perform. So they set up these pre-professional tuition programs (and call them different names, but the commonality is that they "pay to play"). I don't begrudge the ballet companies for doing this to stay alive, but I feel awful for the dancers who have to wait a very long time if ever to finally get paid to dance.

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6 hours ago, vagansmom said:

Corps that pays to dance: That's how I see these programs. I get it: ballet companies can't afford to pay enough dancers to mount the productions they'd like to perform. So they set up these pre-professional tuition programs (and call them different names, but the commonality is that they "pay to play"). I don't begrudge the ballet companies for doing this to stay alive, but I feel awful for the dancers who have to wait a very long time if ever to finally get paid to dance.

 

The "studio companies" I see at many companies play this role, too, especially in big productions. But we also seem to like it when schools (from the Mariinsky to School of American Ballet to the JKO school, etc., etc.) find ways to give their students serious performing experience while they are students. It's an uncomfortable reality in countries without state-subsidized schools to use younger dancers on stage while expecting them to pay for the privilege of this training.  I suppose the only consolation is a substantial scholarship program so students not from wealthy families can participate both in the school and in these trainee roles on stage.

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The financial aspect of this is indeed troubling (are they students or professionals -- a very murky line) but the organized training programs or second companies do seem to be more formal in their structure and more thoughtful in their curriculum/programming than the more ad hoc "trainee" opportunities.

 

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