Sunday, May 18, 2008

DanceMind: Dear Janie -- No Problem.

Hello Janie,

Yes, I understand. There is so much to do these days. The computer keeps us involved in many, many ways with all the social networks, email, fun browsing and all, and then there is life and BALLET!

Well, You have been offered an 'unpaid' apprenticeship. Paid or unpaid, it is certainly quite an accomplishment. CONGRATULATIONS! You have been recognized for your efforts and hard work. They acknowledge your current skill level as being efficient for advancement. You must pause for a moment and realize that. It seems to me like you may be brushing it off because of the pay issue. Few advance to the level of apprentice. You have to appreciate all that you have done to be offered this placement.

Trust me, you are not the only one who refers to it as 'slave labor.' And you are right, you could be searching for an appointment in the next year or two as the apprenticeship does not guarantee a company contract. It takes you to the threshold, standing at the edge of professionalism (without a payck).

The paycheck is one big deal for many dancers in your position. It is as if they arrive to a point where they are mentally tired, feel taken advantage of, and reimbursement motivates and acknowledges them as professionals. The intrinsic reward of dance does not pay the bills.

If others have any comments on this topic, please comment.

Here is one story -- (client allowed me to inform without name disclosure). Trainee Dancer with a large company was told in January that he 'would' very seriously be considered for an apprenticeship. He did not audition figuring he was secure. They did not offer him anything at all and he was not even told that the position was not available to him. Here it is May and he has no position, except perhaps another year as a 'trainee.'

UNTIL you have the papers in hand, you may not have anything except possibility. My opinion is that you have to do what you have to do to advance your training and movement toward a professional appointment. Some have an illusion of loyalty and sense of false hope. Feedback and conversation must often be initiated by the dancer to have questions answered or when a possible position will be filled.

I often hear that one can be afraid to approach a teacher in charge of hiring for fear of being pushy, a nuisance or bold. Is this because of the silence of dance performance? The body communicates, is expressive. Does voice step you out of line? Ask yourself about the scenario above. What would you have done?

Sanna Carapellotti, MS CCHT
Performance Specialist

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