Career Development Plan - Ballet Update and Disappointment on Casting

by Jacqueline

Career Development Plan - Ballet Update and Disappointment on Casting

Hi, Odette. It's me again. It's been a few months since I've written to you. Ballet is good. I'm still training 2x a week of ballet and pointe at my ballet school. But, about a month again I attended an open audition call for the ballet, Giselle. I got in as a villager en pointe and I've attended a few rehearsals with the ballet, but my mom got an e-mail from the director yesterday saying because I don't normally train at the studio (since I train at my ballet school and not the place that's doing Giselle) I can only be a villager understudy! I was disappointed that I broke into tears and I have been so depressed about it. As you pretty much know I trained for three years with a local dance studio (ages 9-12) and now I am at a ballet school where I have been training at for a year and a half and I'm now almost 14. I have never peroformed in a ballet before and now I don't know what to do? I do think I will start training at Joffrey Academy ethier very, very soon or in April- when 3rd quarter starts. I'll have to see. Is there any advice you can give. Also is 14 (or 13) a goood age to start training at a professional ballet school or should I have started training at an earlier age? Will I be behind other serious dancers in this aspect? I feel like 13/ 14 is a relativley young and good age to start professional ballet training, but I know some dancers start a few years younger,and of course some dancers start professional ballet training a few years older. I was just wondering if you could tell me your opinions on this and any other advice you could offer would be great. Thank you so much, sincerley, in advance!!


Reply by Odette
To:- Career Development Plan - Ballet Update and Disappointment on Casting

Hi Jacqueline,
Thank you so much for your update. It is great you keep me in touch, because I can understand your situation more and follow your progress.

To start with, the issue in your case of being put as an understudy will NOT be a case of your dancing ability. It very much sounds like it has been done for convience and 'politics' of the other ballet school that is performing Giselle. You are not a regular student at their school, so it could be more difficult to get to eevry rehearsal or dancing in the same style as the other dancers.

The fact you DID originally get cast shows you ARE good enough, it is just the ballet school altering their choice to suit their needs and perhaps putting the othr girls who do train at the school in priority.

I had tons of similar situations, like I never got chosen to do Swan Lake when I was 12 because I was too tall. Also, I could not perform in the Nutcracker as a party girl because the smaller girls got chosen instead.

This was no way a decision based on my ability, because in fact, now I am dancing professionally where many of those smaller girls have quit now. Especially when you are younger, I am telling you from all my experience, there are LOTS of things that happen in casting to make you feel disappointed and hard on yourself.

Yet, in the big picture, it doesn't really matter and won't neccessarily stop you from becoming a professional. You have to brush it off, grit your teeth and still believe you are a worthy dancer that you will get your moment.

In your case, I suppose it could highlight the benefits of studying with certain ballet schools or having that 'name' of a higher school. As you get older and do more auditions you will find many times that ballet teachers or directors judge and choose against your training and where you are.

Luckily in your case, it is abolutely not too late to join a vocational school or somewhere like Joffrey in years to come. Trust yourself, because you are right and it is a good age to start professional training. I know lots of examples of didn't start training more seriously until 13, 14 and even 16.

You can research Melissa Hamilton and Misty Copeland to get inspiration. I especially like to read their stories and feel totally amazed when I see how they made it.

You won't neccessarily be behind the others when you join at a later age. At first, you may feel like you are playing catch-up, but if you work you hardest and push yourself you will soon be the same if not better.

I hope this advice helps. Remember, you will get so many more opportunities to perform in the future so don't feel too disheartened. Each disappointment can toughen you up, so you know what it feels like to have this happen to you, and in the future you will be able to feel even stronger.

Keep you chin up. Believe in yourself and know that you will have your moment soon. Keep working hard!

Best wishes,

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