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Panto company under fire for holding ‘X Factor-style audition’ for professional dancers

Polka Dot Pantomimes has confirmed it will not be holding 'X Factor-style' auditions again
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A pantomime company has come under fire for holding an X Factor-style audition for professional dancers, described as “cut-throat” and “humiliating” for everyone taking part.

Dancers at the audition performed in groups of six in front of other hopefuls, and were then told ‘yes’ or ‘no’ individually by a panel of judges, with successful candidates needing three yeses to make it through to the next stage.

Polka Dot Pantomimes, which held the audition, has since apologised for the way it conducted the audition, which performers have described as “degrading” and “X Factor without the buzzers”.

One dancer, who did not want to be named, told The Stage: “It is a very tough industry as we know, but this was by far the most cut-throat audition I’d attended and I hope to not have to experience it again. The best comparison to the audition was The X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent without the buzzers.”

Another said that more than 100 had attended the audition, which was advertised on Facebook.

When it was announced that the judges would be saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to those auditioning in front of others, she said she “laughed out loud”, thinking it was a joke.

“I didn’t realise I had entered Britain’s Got Talent,” she said, adding: “Having to dance and then stand still in front of more than 100 other people while a panel says ‘yes’ or ‘no’ was humiliating for everyone.”

She acknowledged the current #YesOrNo campaign, to let auditionees know whether they have been successful, but added: “Yes it is amazing to get an answer, but it is not acceptable for a professional audition to be treated like a talent show.”

Responding, executive producer Darren Maddison said he was sorry that people had felt humiliated.

“That was not our intention,” he said, adding that he had been trying to find the most time-effective way to see the 100-plus auditionees.

“We were not trying to do it like The X Factor, in any shape or form. We are a very small company and we don’t have delusions of grandeur, thinking we’re Simon Cowell,” he said. “I am not that sort of person and I take no pleasure in trying to laud it over people auditioning.”

Maddison confirmed the company would not hold auditions in that way again.

“The last thing I would want to do is upset anybody,” he said, adding that he had had some positive feedback about the audition.

He also said no performer was made to watch the other auditionees, claiming they were free to leave the room, with some using that time to rehearse their own dance routines.

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