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My daughter has been applying for companies, but nobody wants her. She has worked all her life for this and is now devastated. What can we do as she is getting really depressed?

This is unfortunately quite a common scenario. Many girls work for years towards a dream of being a principal ballerina in a major company, and then get devastated when this dream is not fulfilled as easily as they would have liked. In reality there are thousands of talented girls all competing for a few places coveted places in schools and companies all around the world, and the standards are being raised every year. To be considered for any company she obviously needs to either put forward some video footage, or participate in an audition process for people to reject her. She must ask herself…

Why am I being rejected? Where am I weak? Where are the places I am not up to scratch? What are my strengths?

A dancer must be able to analyze her own technique, look at her own video, and see it as an external viewer. Alternatively, she must approach the companies or individuals who have auditioned her or take on previous suggestions from teachers and adjudicators and work with them to improve her skills. If she is not prepared to ask these questions, or deal with the answers, she will not have a career in dance. If she takes any criticism personally, she will never improve. It is important that she understands that a rejection from a company is not personal. They do not know her. There were simply other people in the audition who performed better than she did. If being a dancer is really her heart’s desire, she will do anything to make herself better. She may need to get a job to support herself financially and then work specifically on her weaknesses day and night until she gets them right. Far too many girls continue to take classes repeating the same mistakes and flaws day after day and never demand any more of themselves.

Sometimes it is a good idea to take classes with different teachers, to pick up things her original teachers may have missed. I would also recommend that she try other movement classes including Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais or Alexander Technique to begin really learning about her body and different forms of movement. Contemporary Dance and Jazz should both be a strong component of any dancer looking to turn professional even if she wants to do solely classical dance. They all help move the body in different ways to ballet, and will make her a much more versatile dancer. Other dance forms such as Flamenco or even Salsa can give so much to the quality and ease of movement a dancer displays. She must love to Dance,
not just ‘do’ ballet.

Some dancers get into the mindset of… “I am too tall/short/fat/wide… etc and that’s why I never get picked.” This is a dangerous scenario to get into and is often used as a scapegoat by girls who do not want to take responsibility for their own lack of success. If a dancer really has a body non-conducive to dance, she will hopefully have been told this long before she begins applying for companies. However, If a dancer is extraordinary in other areas, he or she can often overcome physical ‘flaws’ and wow audiences on her own accord. Maybe she is tall, but this gives her the most amazing legs, so she must learn to use that to her advantage. She may be tiny, but if she is extraordinarily quick and light, she may be exactly what a company is looking for.

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