Thursday, May 15, 2008

What a year...

Another comment from balletfan: "It would be interesting to read about how different it must be for a first year member of the company, who was a student last year, and the adjustments that had to be made."

Well, I have quite a bit to say about this, because this is a transition I made. Generally, it's not that big a contrast because you don't go straight from being a student to being a full company member. Between the two years, you are an apprentice.

Being an apprentice means you are both a student, and a company member, at the same time. Which means, you guessed it, twice the work. Every year the apprentice's situation is a little bit different. I can really only speak with any authority on my year. Some things have changed, and some haven't.

A general day for me would look like this:
10 - 11:30 am: Company Class
11:45 am - 2:30 pm: Company Rehearsal
2:30 - 3:30 pm: Usually lunch, sometimes a school show rehearsal
3:30 - 5:30 pm: Company Rehearsal
5:30 - 7 pm: School Class
7 - 8 pm: Men's Class, Pas de Deux Class, or School Show rehearsal

My apprentice year I was in two ballets a show, for almost every show (sometimes with more than one part per ballet). I was also dancing the lead in a very hard Balanchine ballet for the school show (La Source) as well as 2 parts in another ballet in the school show. I also had to send out videos and do an audition tour to find a job incase OBT didn't hire me. We were also rehearsing and performing a sort of mini introduction to ballet at various schools in the area. To top it all off, we received no pay. Fortunately for me, I grew up here and could live at home, but I know most of my fellow apprentices had to be supported completely by their parents.

Now, I don't want it to sound like it was all bad. I gained a lot of performance experience, and my dancing improved dramatically. I also got a taste for what company life was like while still having the security of being in the school and knowing that no one expected me to be perfect, and that I was still learning.

All in all, it was definitely a life changing experience. It worked well for me when all was said and done and now when I'm faced with difficult tasks I know that it's not going to be any harder than my apprentice year.

Everyone's story is going to be different, but that's mine.



  1. Wow, sounds exhausting.

    Does everyone always become and apprentice before joining a company?

  2. Most everyone goes through something equivalent to an apprentice year. It's just sort of like a trial run for both the dancer, and the artistic director.