Second Companies

Over the past decades, programs have emerged to help students move from training schools into company life. These programs have various names: second companies, studio companies, trainee programs, professional divisions, and fellowships. They accept advanced students in their late teens to early twenties, when professional ambitions are more or less concrete, and are characterized by a focus on helping dancers “bridge the gap between student and professional.”

Increasingly, companies and their affiliate schools are adding additional tiers to this pre-professional/professional “twilight zone.” For example, Joffrey Ballet in Chicago added a studio company alongside their trainee program a few years ago. While some of these programs have stipends, others are uncompensated. Still others continue to charge tuition. The benefit for ballet companies is clear, but how do these programs impact dancers and their careers?