An Orlando Ballet audition. Photo by Fellipe Buccianti, Launchpad Photo, Courtesy Orlando Ballet

Letter to the Editor: Orlando Ballet Will No Longer Charge Audition Fees. Here's Why

Dear Editor,

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.


Sara's argument that it's unfair that dancers are the only members of the company that have to pay for a job interview is a valid one. As she suggests, Orlando Ballet did not charge me $30 when I interviewed for the role of executive director last year. It only makes sense that all staff participate in the same hiring practices.

But issues with charging dancers to audition go much deeper. My greatest concern is that audition fees will create an even greater barrier to lower income artists who want to pursue a professional dance career.

At Orlando Ballet we celebrate the diverse and talented dancers that make up our professional company. Whether it be an audience member, a child longing to take ballet classes or an artist who has risen to a level of excellence, I want to make sure that ballet is accessible to everyone. Not every dancer will come from the same socioeconomic background and, thanks to our new policy, our audition process will have one less obstacle for aspiring dancers eager to join the ranks of Orlando Ballet.

As someone who has spent my entire career managing arts organizations, I wholeheartedly understand the financial struggles that come with the territory. It's something that challenges us on a daily basis, but our commitment to supporting artists from all backgrounds must take priority.

When I accepted the role of executive director at Orlando Ballet, I was thrilled to find a culture that embraced the community with so many programs dedicated to reaching individuals that normally would not have access to ballet. It's a philosophy I share and, as an organization, we will continue to make ballet inclusive and within reach to anyone who wants to experience this amazing art form.

Sincerely,

Shane Jewell, executive director of Orlando Ballet

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi Everyone,

These are challenging times. The social distancing measures brought about by COVID-19 has likely meant that your regular ballet training has been interrupted, while your performances, competitions—even auditions—have been cancelled. You may be feeling anxious about what the future holds, not only for you but for the dance industry. And that's perfectly understandable.

As you adjust to taking virtual ballet class from your living rooms, we here at Pointe are adjusting to working remotely from our living rooms. We've had to get a little creative, especially as we put our Summer Issue together, but like you we're taking full advantage of modern technology. Sure, it's a little inconvenient sometimes, but we're finding our groove.

And we know that you will, too. We've been utterly inspired by how the dance community has rallied together, from ballet stars giving online classes to companies streaming their performances to the flood of artist resources popping up. We've loved watching you dance from your kitchens. And we want to help keep this spirit alive. That's why Pointe and all of our Dance Media sister publications are working nonstop to produce and cross-post stories to help you navigate this crisis. We're all in this together.

We also want to hear from you! Send us a message on social media, or email me directly at abrandt@dancemedia.com. Tell us how you're doing, send us your ideas and show us your dance moves. Let the collective love we share for our beloved art form spark the light at the end of the tunnel—we will come out the other side soon enough.

Best wishes,

Amy