A recent trip I tookto Nashville coincided with the NFL draft. As we drove into town, my Uber driver was a fount of information on the subject.
I learned that there are 32 NFL teams and that the draft takes place over seven rounds. That the team that did the poorest during the previous season gets first pick. That during an earlier event called the scouting combine, the teams assess college football players and figure out who they want.
There is also the veteran combine for "free agents"—players who have been released from their contracts or whose contracts have expired. They might be very good players, but their team needs younger members or ones with a certain skill set. All year round, experienced NFL scouts scan games across the country, checking out players and feeding that information back to the teams. Players' agents keep their eyes on opportunities for their clients which might be more rewarding.
While I sat in the traffic of 600,000 NFL fans I got thinking, is there something ballet could learn from football? Could a draft system improve young dancers' prospects and overall company caliber and contentment?
The Rockettes are officially looking for some fresh faces. For the first time in almost a decade, the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall is expanding its yearly open call in New York City to add audition locations in Chicago and Atlanta. The creative team wants to widen the pool and reach even more dancers.
So how can you get chosen out of hundreds of hopefuls?
Martha Graham Dance Company in Prelude to Action. Photo by Melissa Sherwood, Courtesy MGDC
Today, Anne Souder, Xin Ying and Marzia Memoli are all members of the Martha Graham Dance Company, but their journeys there couldn't have been more different. Each of them shared how they landed a contract with their dream company.
An Orlando Ballet audition. Photo by Fellipe Buccianti, Launchpad Photo, Courtesy Orlando Ballet
There has been much discussion lately about the practice of professional arts organizations charging fees for performers to audition. Sara Bibik's letter to Dance Magazine brought that conversation to the forefront of the dance community and gave me—and hopefully many others—an opportunity to revisit and reflect on something that's commonplace in our industry.
After careful review, Orlando Ballet recently made the decision to stop this practice. We will no longer charge dancers to audition for the professional company. These changes were effective immediately, and Orlando Ballet is in the process of refunding the audition fees for our most recent Atlanta and Orlando auditions.