When my editor at Pointe and I were discussing my most recent assignment for the magazine, we referred to it as the "getting ghosted" piece. Not ghosted as in being abruptly, mysteriously ignored in a personal relationship (also known as the silent treatment), but in the context of applying for jobs in the ballet world-- i.e., auditioning-- and then either waiting weeks for a response or never getting an answer at all.
For this article, I spoke with Kayla DeGaray, a senior apprentice at Ballet Tucson; Jill and Anthony Krutzkamp, directors of Sacramento Ballet and SB 2, respectively; and Marcello Angelini, the director of Tulsa Ballet. All were wonderfully forthcoming, transparent, and generous with their time, and offered a lot of insight into this all-too-common occurrence from both sides of the issue. Auditioning for companies (or submitting audition materials digitally) and then waiting for a response..... and waiting... and maybe never even hearing back is something I've mentored several dancers through in recent years. All of them wrestled with the question of whether, when, and how to check in, follow up, or inquire as to their status following an audition.
I began to realize that this issue reflects more than the skeletal resources of many small and mid-size companies (let's acknowledge the logistical challenges of staying on top of a flood of audition requests during the peak season and responding to every one in a timely manner). A lack of motivation on the part of a company director to promptly make decisions and respect the time of dancers who have auditioned for them has to do with the historical power imbalance in our business. There's a built-in acceptance that jobs are scarce, resources are scarce, your currency is time-dated (you're only 'good' for so long), and that there are always scores of better dancers out there so a job offer is something to be more than grateful for. I suspect many young dancers also lack (or are insecure about) skills in professional written communication.
Things ARE changing. The directors I spoke with all stated adamantly that they have policies in place for their companies' audition seasons that include stipulating a turnaround time to applicants up front, and they stressed that a dancer's own assertiveness in communicating with them during the process is not only welcome, it shows that dancer's own maturity and professionalism. One of them (not cited in the article) also said, "If a company is negligent, sloppy, or disrespectful in their communication with you, you probably don't want to work there anyway." (True, but the reality is that very, very few dancers can be so choosy.)
I'd say it'll be a while before most young dancers trying to get a foothold in the pro world feel enough agency to be this proactive-- but enough schools are teaching audition-skills courses now that I do think the tide is turning. And maybe this article will shine some daylight on the problem and nudge more directors towards change while giving dancers the confidence to send that follow-up email.
Below is a link to my article, available on Pointe+, which is a subscription service. If you're not a subscriber already, signing up is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of the ballet world!