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Subject: "A BURNING QUESTION " Archived thread - Read only
 
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Conferences What's Happening Topic #1194
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Cry Freedom

05-01-01, 02:03 PM (GMT)
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"A BURNING QUESTION "
 
   In evaluating the available (painstakingly collected) statistics on the make-up of company members of 'well known' Ballet companies globally, it is apparent that-

Dancers from both little known institutions or private (and dare I say independent?) teachers, are not only filling positions in ever increasing numbers, but are moving up the ladder in significant numbers in comparison to their colleagues from traditional training schools.

There could be many reasons, but, consider this.

On entering the second year of UK Government funded dance PLACES at specific institutions only, the question must be asked -

Should not THE STUDENT be funded and given the freedom to seek the standard and type of dance education they personally require in order for them to reach their potential?

This could be beneficial in recognising the schools who provide the best training, and force improvement on those who at present are 'taking the money but not making the grade'.

It is correct in assuming that the present system gives dance teachers (of these appointed institutions) the sole authority to reject or accept a student? (We are of course assuming that person is qualified to make that judgement.)

Is this not open to abuse? Can it be anything other than a personal choice? From the teacher's point of view, what sort of pressure is there to justify his/her decision, (especially if it is a choice of his/her own child over another - which is more common than you think!)

Are their built in assurances/guidelines that these situations cannot exist?


Putting the power in the hands of the schools rather than the student is not only impossible to regulate, it prevents the student from choices in seeking training, be it the well known institutions or at smaller private schools or teachers.

The students themselves want to succeed and need that freedom of choice - which under the present system is denied.

Just think of all the funds that could be channelled into training in the absence of bureaucrats needed to administer and police the present system!

Convince me I am wrong....


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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
  RE: A BURNING QUESTION Post Scipt 05-01-01 1
  RE: A BURNING QUESTION Terry Amos 05-01-01 2
     RE: A BURNING QUESTION CRY FREEDOM 05-01-01 3
  RE: A BURNING QUESTION Stuart Sweeney 06-01-01 4
  RE: A BURNING QUESTION Bruce Madmin 07-01-01 5
     RE: A BURNING QUESTION cf 08-01-01 6
         RE: A BURNING QUESTION Caz 08-01-01 7
             RE: A BURNING QUESTION Susie 09-01-01 8
                 RE: A BURNING QUESTION cf 09-01-01 9
                 RE: A BURNING QUESTION Caz 09-01-01 10
                     RE: A BURNING QUESTION Susie 09-01-01 11
                         RE: A BURNING QUESTION Stuart Sweeney 13-01-01 12
                             RE: A BURNING QUESTION Caz 14-01-01 13
                             RE: A BURNING QUESTION Caz 14-01-01 14

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Post Scipt

05-01-01, 02:18 PM (GMT)
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1. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #0
 
   I am not advocating the abolishment of auditions by the school to select the pupil most suitable, only that the question of FUNDING does not dictate the outcome.


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Terry Amos

05-01-01, 09:19 PM (GMT)
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2. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #0
 
   I'd be interested to see these statistics. Where are they available?


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CRY FREEDOM

05-01-01, 10:01 PM (GMT)
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3. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #2
 
   You can access the information yourself from a variety of sources -

My information was taken initially from websites of all (available) ballet companies which list the company members and their bios - some are restricted to principals.

Other information taken from programmes of companies (listing bios again)

School internet websites also give lists of 'where are they now' etc. Also schools such as the RBS give information brochures listing students over a number of years and where they went - I have not seen one listing 2000's students though.

Other companies that don't list information will give you the info if you e-mail them - such as ABt. Information on Russian companies is limited, and almost exclusively Russian trained.

I devised a database listing the company,
what percentage of members came from an affiliated school,
where balance of members came from and
where they were trained.

Through information available over a number of years, it was possible to trace the progress each student has made.


I also had a category listing destinations of the graduating students of the affiliated schools . I did not include students who joined very small outfits such as Vienna Festival Ballet etc. Over time I was able to add or cross check info as it became available.

There are some definate patterns such as Princess Grace School in Monaco is one such small (independent) institution that has graduate students in Europe, the USA and here in the UK. There are also a number of students training with private teachers in New York who have been successfully place with good companies.

Canada is a good source and a lot of student who have started with one school have attended the SAB summer school (9 weeks) and ended up being offered a full scholarship - all nationalities too! I understand there is a substantial increase this year of UK based student applications to SAB....

The School of American Ballet is the most successful affiliated school placing 90% of its students with ABT or other USA based companies. Our RBS has a sprinkling of students, but companies such as Hamburg who took a few a couple of years back has had none since

I have not updated the information beyond Sept 2000 and these obervations are purely facts taken from info on a database - not a criticism of any school or company etc.


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Stuart Sweeney

06-01-01, 11:24 PM (GMT)
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4. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #0
 
   LAST EDITED ON 06-01-01 AT 11:28 PM (GMT)


>Putting the power in the hands
>of the schools rather than
>the student is not only
>impossible to regulate, it prevents
>the student from choices in
>seeking training, be it the
>well known institutions or at
>smaller private schools or teachers.

In this country, in all the forms of Further Education that I am aware of, grants are given for attendance at Colleges or Schools that have been validated by the grant awarding bodies. When public funds are being handed out there have to be safeguards that those funds are being well spent, otherwise the Audit Commission will be very unhappy and rightly so.

I see no reason why dance should be diferent to any other form of training in this respect. Giving the money to the student would surely make it more difficult to regulate than the current position. In some respects there are stronger reasons for validating dance schools, compared with other educational institutions, because of the various health risks that are associated with dance training.

Regarding people repeating your research, I do hope that 100 people do not e-mail a string of companies around the world for the information that you have already. Admin. resources in the dance world are scarce.




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Bruce Madmin

07-01-01, 09:44 AM (GMT)
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5. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #0
 
   >Convince me I am wrong....

I think its us who need to be convinced yet!

You would seem to have done a lot of research and have been brave enough to report your conclusions on this data. But at the moment those conclusions lack numbers to support them:

"Dancers from both little known institutions or private (and dare I say independent?) teachers, are not only filling positions in ever increasing numbers, but are moving up the ladder in significant numbers in comparison to their colleagues from traditional training schools."

So what does "ever increasing number" mean? What are the year on year percentages? Ditto the moving up the ladder in comparison numbers.

I think you need to be brave and report exactly what you have - the companies and institutions considered and the numbers associated. Of course others will dispute certain numbers or conclusions but that is part of informed debate and testing arguments. I guess at the moment you are not giving me/us enough information to be sensibly informed. I would be *very* happy to publish a piece in our magazine about this and sot out graphs and tables etc.

With that position more widely understood one can then debate if funding arrangements need to change. In any event it might for example be that the privately educated are over represented at the top of any profession that you care to name. ie its not specifically a dance problem? But I prefer to know more of the background numbers first. Sorry - but being coy and inviting people to do their own research is unlikely to progress this.


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cf

08-01-01, 10:08 AM (GMT)
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6. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #5
 
   'Sorry - but being coy and inviting people to do their own research is unlikely to progress this.'

-Don't mean to be shy about this but I wished to emphasise the fact that the information is freely available and you don't have to take my word for it.

-I doubt that it would be necessary to e-mail all the major companies as they all have websites with the company members listed -giving joining dates, school come from etc. on each member, American sites being the most informative.
The one Russian school that I found amusing states openly that only Russian students are welcome!

As I responded to Terry from home, I was not able to give him info in more detail as the CD was here at the office so info was from memory, bearing in mind that I undertook the exercise in October 2000. I shall fish out the info and pass it on (in the first instance) to you Bruce and Terry.


My reasons for undertaking this mammoth task was to evaluate the expense of dance training and gauge what the possibilities are of employment at the end of it - Talent, opportunities and luck aside! Considering that dance training would pay off a large part of anyone's mortgage, I felt the exercise was worth undertaking.

I am though, more concerned with the funding of our students aspect and thank you Stuart for your opinion on this matter.

About the same time as creating this spreadsheet, our family went through the experience of having obtaining 80% of the fees through council funding (which no longer exists) to attend a (lesser known) full time dance and academic school, after some considerable soul searching, we handed back the 25,000 balance to the council opting to pay (with great hardship I might add) for a small private classical school with a good reputation for placements for graduates. That was of course a matter of personal choice.

I don't know much about student funding at university, but could not the same principle be applied to dance students? Perhaps funding in the form of a loan repayable when employed?


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Caz

08-01-01, 11:19 AM (GMT)
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7. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #6
 
  

>I don't know much about student
>funding at university, but could
>not the same principle be
>applied to dance students? Perhaps
>funding in the form of
>a loan repayable when employed?
>

The same is true of most vocational training - and in some cases dance students are better off as at least the need for funding is recognised.

So far as University-type funding goes wouldn't a more useful way of doing this be to have the dance schools affiliated to a University (like so many other colleges are) and then be funded in exactly the same way, ie. by means of a loan. Some Universities already have strong dance depts and they seem to be getting more widespread all the time. The only problem with that is there doesn't seem to be a corresponding increase in the number of jobs available for dancers which makes it unlikely there will be a massive increase in funding for professional courses.

One other thing that occurs to me re. your research. Does this actually reflect a change in the standard of the dance schools concerned or is it a change of attitude among the dance companies themselves in employing dancers from a wider range of schools. You seem surprised to find that a certain Russian company prefers to take Russian dancers. In the not at all distant past it was common for companies to favour dancers trained 'in house' or from certain well known schools. I suspect what you are seeing in your research could be as much a more open-minded attitude from the companies and possibly a deliberate attempt to show less obvious favouritism as a change in the standard of schools.

I would assume that funding for dance schools is managed in the same way as it is for other educational institutions. If you don't make the grade you lose your funding. The rest of the educational world is under constant pressure from funding constraints so it would certainly be unfair on the rest of us if dance schools *weren't*. I can't really see any reason why attendance at private dance schools should be funded any more than any other form of private education should be state-funded. In an ideal world we should all be able to get whatever form of education we wanted for free, but until ballet becomes popular enough to get onto the National Curiculum I don't think it's going to happen.



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Susie

09-01-01, 00:19 AM (GMT)
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8. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #7
 
   This debate raises some interesting questions...

One brief comment about university dance courses - it is very difficult for them to include the necessary hours of practical study for a dancer intent on a performing career - they do not have the space, teachers or funding, and are primarily geared to more traditional academic forms of study. I speak as one who is currently teaching occasional ballet classes for a university degree course in dance. It is hard to convince universities who primarily operate through the written word of the seriousness of the practical study involved in dance technique classes. However many vocational schools now successfully run degree courses which are validated by universities and have a far greater practical content. Talented students should receive funding to enable them to take up places at acredited private vocational schools because as yet there is no state education alternative to what they offer. The current funding arrangements are part of a process of bringing these schools into a national educational framework so that they can offer nationally recognised qualifications. Whether at the end of the day this will improve students' chances of finding work as dancers is a moot point - but it might make it easier for them to find other related work such as teaching. Loans are not a realistic option as current annual earnings in the dance world are for the majority derisory.


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cf

09-01-01, 09:44 AM (GMT)
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9. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #8
 
   Assuming a dance student should begin full time dance training from the ago of 11 or 12 yrs (or at high school entry age) is there (still) no Government accredited vocational dance programme for pre 16 year old students?

Are high fees still being charged for a 4 year pre 16 training period, on courses which have no final exams/qualifications or any recognised structure?How many students find, at 16 that they have not received the standard of dance training needed or indeed expected?

Susie's comment that 'many vocational schools now successfully run degree courses which are validated by universities' is encouraging, perhaps the universities are 'most qualified' to structure an accredited vocational dance training package - for both pre and post 16 year old students!

We cannot compare ourselves with countries such as the US where funding provides the best of everything - good schools with enviable resources. I still think that in the UK we need to make the best of a bad situation. Does not anybody see any potential in the funding the student rather than the school?


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Caz

09-01-01, 10:17 AM (GMT)
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10. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #8
 
  

>Loans are not a realistic
>option as current annual earnings
>in the dance world are
>for the majority derisory.

As discussed many times on these pages, dancers are no worse off than a lot of other careers. I know for a fact I'm paid 2/hour less than my ballet teacher and she complains of how low her wage is compared to other areas. If you want to see derisory wages try looking up the jobs section in New Scientist or worse still in your local job centre.

Loans are just as realistic an option for dance students as they are for anyone else. I agree completely that there need to be funded dance courses, but nothing will convince me that dancers should be given extra advantages over any other group of students.



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Susie

09-01-01, 09:09 PM (GMT)
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11. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #10
 
   Ballet company salaries may be respectable but for those in the independent sector working on a project basis annual earnings are considerably less. There were some revealing case studies in the Arts Council's Independent Dance Review 2 years ago and things haven't improved significantly to my knowledge since then.

As to student funding I am opposed to loans and think all students in higher education should be properly funded. It is an investment in the future for eveyone, and the three or four years should be spent in maximising their studies and wider educational/cultural experience not slapping hamburgers on buns and pulling pints to pay the bills. Certainly not dancers who should be doing as much dancing as they can and looking after their bodies. At the end of the day I don't think the taxpayer gets value for money if higher education is diluted in this way.


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Stuart Sweeney

13-01-01, 03:23 PM (GMT)
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12. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #11
 
   Susie, I'm glad that you were able to substantiate, using the Independent Dance Review, my intuitive judgement about the hard times that most dancers face. I spoke to a super dancer, who was rehearsing an important role in a work by a leading contemporary choreographer, about his plans after this work. He replied, 'Not good, I'm afraid. Probably back to a building site.'

A few years of intermittant, badly paid work, usually with bad working conditions, before age or injury rules you out. Dancing outside of the top half dozen companies is a very tough and uncertain life indeed.

Caz, you may earn 2 per.hr. less than your ballet teacher, but is yours a regular 7-8 hr per day job? If your teacher is an independent, then I'm sure hers is not and involves a lot of unpaid travel with no pension or holiday provision or job security.


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Caz

14-01-01, 05:40 PM (GMT)
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13. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #12
 
  

>Caz, you may earn 2 per.hr.
>less than your ballet teacher,
>but is yours a regular
>7-8 hr per day job?
> If your teacher is
>an independent, then I'm sure
>hers is not and involves
>a lot of unpaid travel
>with no pension or holiday
>provision or job security.

Stuart,

Like many scientists, mine is a short term contract during which we work like Trojans on someone else's research project and at the end of our 1-3 years we are back out there looking for the next job. We are at the mercy of funding bodies and 'popular science'. As you can imagine under such circumstances it's very difficult to settle anywhere and still hard to get mortgages, loans, pensions etc though the situation is improving as more and more professions are pushed into short and fixed-term contracts.

My ballet teacher? Well if we use her as an example she works aprrox 6 hours/day 5 days a week and Saturday mornings. She works for the Arts Centre dance school and does no travelling other than to work and back.

I'm not saying all dancers are well off and I've never said that. What does make me extremely angry is the examples which have been given on these pages in the past in which the dancers concerned are considerably better off and working in better conditions than many other professions, nursing for example.

I'm perfectly happy to support the idea of funding dance students (I'd be even happier if someone would like to fund my exam classes for ballet), but such funding should be on the same lines as funding for other students. And as you and Susie have pointed out, there is a serious lack of work for professional dancers. Surely this suggests that encouraging students to study dance through funded vocational courses is a waste of money, time and effort and going to lead to serious disappointment and disolusionment for the students.



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Caz

14-01-01, 05:43 PM (GMT)
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14. "RE: A BURNING QUESTION "
In response to message #13
 
   Ack. Posted message by accident while aiming to fix spelling.
Disillusionment.


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