Dance Resumés 101: What Directors Need to Know—And What They Don't


Artistic directors sift through hundreds of audition packets a season, and your resumé is often your first chance to catch their attention. Naturally, you want a document that makes a positive impression. But some surprising (and seemingly minor) details can inadvertently turn a director off. So, how do you make your resumé stand out—for the right reasons?

Focus on Essentials

At an audition, directors need to see your essential information at a glance: where you trained and what companies and choreographers you've worked with. Cincinnati Ballet artistic director Victoria Morgan scans for names she recognizes. "It's good to know if a dancer has worked with a respected leader in the industry, and if there's a colleague I can call as a reference. I'm also more inclined to take a second look at a student if I recognize a particular school or teacher," she says.

Your resumé should be no longer than one side of one page. "When I've got 600 resumés sitting here, a three-page resumé is a disincentive to me," says Kansas City Ballet artistic director Devon Carney. "It comes down to time—how quickly can you present your information to an unknown pair of eyes?"

"I don't need to know you did 'Waltz of the Flowers' for eight years," says Kansas City Ballet artistic director Devon Carney. Photo by Ken Coit, Courtesy KCB.

As for format, contact information should be at the top of the page. Make sure it's accurate and up to date: Include your full name, address, phone number and an email address you actually use (and check daily—Carney cites opportunities dancers have lost because they didn't respond promptly enough). Height is helpful to include, but weight, hair and eye color aren't necessary. Since employment laws differ for minors, if you're under 18 (or look like you could be), include your date of birth.

Next, list your work and training history. A common method is to organize everything in reverse chronological order, starting with your current job or school, with separate headings for training and professional performing experience. Putting each school, company or choreographer on a separate line using indentations or bullet points makes it easy to read. Repertoire and roles can either be noted alongside the school or company you performed them with or in a separate category. Morgan suggests including a link or two to any standout performances or studio work. List related experience (TV, commercial, modeling or theatrical work, for example), academic degrees, continuing education and any industry-related awards at the end.

Pennsylvania Ballet corps member Adrianna de Svastich opts to put her training at the top to illustrate her overall progression. "But it's really about highlighting what best reflects you as a dancer and what you're most proud of," she explains.

De Svastich's resumé, last updated in 2016, neatly fits on one page.

What Stays Out?

An impressive resumé doesn't have to—and shouldn't—include every credential you have, whether you're an experienced professional or a student with only school shows under your belt. Prioritize what you've done and imagine what a director will really care about.

"Pedigree is important when you're looking at who has influenced a dancer," says Carney. That means listing the schools that primarily shaped your dancing, but not the studio where you took tap at age 3. Students and inexperienced professionals should include recognized summer programs, but naming the entire faculty (or whether you received a scholarship) is unnecessary.

Listing roles and repertoire gets tricky. Established dancers can fall into the trap of including too much in an effort to show how experienced they are, but an overly detailed list is unwieldy. "I don't need to know you did 'Waltz of the Flowers' for eight years," says Carney. "When I see featured roles, the assumption is you did corps work, as well. The important thing is to get a snapshot of where you are right now." If you've only danced corps parts, include them, but edit it to highlight the most important or noteworthy ballets.

"Too much information may distract from aspects of your training or performing," says Cincinnati Ballet artistic director Victoria Morgan. Photo by Jennifer Denham, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet.

As her experience grew, de Svastich narrowed down her repertoire to only featured roles and added freelance projects, as well as film, commercials and her college degree. She includes her choreography work at the bottom.

It's worth making room for "extras" if you feel they define you as a dancer or as a person. Morgan thinks a college degree signals maturity and independence, while Carney likes knowing if a dancer does volunteer or community work. But don't overpack it: "Too much extra information may even distract from aspects of your training or performing that are important to know," says Morgan.

Putting your life's passion on a single page is hard, but crafting a concise resumé will leave directors with a lasting impression that reflects your achievements and your professionalism.

Bonus Tips: Resumé Do's and Don'ts


  • Proofread (twice!): Typos signal that you're not conscientious. "It drives me nuts to see well-known choreographers' or teachers' names misspelled," says Kansas City Ballet artistic director Devon Carney. ("Bournonville" and "Kylián" are frequently misspelled.)
  • Include continuing education: Pennsylvania Ballet dancer Adrianna de Svastich includes a William Forsythe workshop she attended as a professional to show her effort to continue growing as an artist.
  • Consider adding photos: A thumbnail headshot and dance shot in the upper corner of your resumé makes it stand out and helps a director quickly remember you.


  • Mention hobbies and things you're grateful for: "Resumés that are too full of information won't hold my interest," says Cincinnati Ballet artistic director Victoria Morgan.
  • Leave unexplained chronological gaps or inconsistencies: Directors will wonder what you're hiding if they see a time period with no training or work, or two schools attended during the same year.
  • Be afraid of white space: If your essentials don't fill an entire page, avoid plumping it up with extraneous tidbits.
  • Include personal Instagram or Twitter handles: Unless you have an account or website that is solely professional, leave it off.
Show Comments ()
Richmond Ballet dancers in "An Open Later..." by Matthew Frain. Photo by Sarah Ferguson, Courtesy Richmond Ballet.

What's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.

The Bolshoi Premiere of John Neumeier's Anna Karenina

Last July Hamburg Ballet presented the world premiere of John Neumeier's Anna Karenina, a modern adaptation on Leo Tolstoy's famous novel. Hamburg Ballet coproduced the full-length ballet with the National Ballet of Canada and the Bolshoi, the latter of which will premiere the work March 23 (NBoC will have its premiere in November). The production will feature Bolshoi star Svetlana Zakharova in the title role. This is especially fitting as Neumeier's initial inspiration for the ballet came from Zakharova while they were working together on his Lady of the Camellias. The following video delves into what makes this production stand out.

Keep reading... Show less
Beijing Dance Academy students Pei Yu Meng and Wang Yuzhiwan in rehearsal. Photo Courtesy BDA.

In one of 60 spacious dance studios at the Beijing Dance Academy, Pei Yu Meng practices a tricky step from Jorma Elo's Over Glow. She's standing among other students, but they all work alone, with the help of teachers calling out corrections from the front of the room. On top of her strong classical foundation and clean balletic lines, Pei Yu's slithery coordination and laser-sharp focus give her dancing a polished gleam. Once she's mastered the pirouette she's been struggling with, she repeats the step over and over until the clock reaches 12 pm for lunch. Here, every moment is a chance to approach perfection.

Pei Yu came to the school at age 10 from Hebei, a province near Beijing. Now 20, and in her third year of BDA's professional program, she is an example of a new kind of Chinese ballet student. Founded in 1954 by the country's communist government, BDA is a fully state-funded professional training school with close to 3,000 students and 275 full-time teachers over four departments (ballet, classical Chinese dance, social dance and musical theater). It offers degrees in performance, choreography and more. BDA's ballet program has long been known for fostering pristine Russian-style talent. But since 2011, the school has made major efforts to broaden ballet students' knowledge of Chinese dance traditions and the works of Western contemporary ballet choreographers. Pointe went inside this prestigious academy to see how BDA trains its dancers.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Tim Verhallen, via Instagram

Dutch National Ballet Soloist Michaela DePrince has been busy winning over the mainstream media. Since last spring, the First Position star not only landed a spokesmodel deal with Jockey, but she also recently teamed up on a commercial with Chase Bank and just announced that Madonna will be directing her upcoming biopic, Taking Flight (totally casual).

What could possibly be next? The cover of April's Harper's Bazaar Netherlands, it turns out. Posing in an arabesque with her hair slicked back in her usual ballet bun, DePrince traded in her leotard and tights for a stunning metallic Gucci dress (can we do that, too?).

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Leanne Benjamin and Luke Heydon in "Coppélia," via YouTube.

Dancing with The Royal Ballet from 1992 until 2013, former principal Leanne Benjamin tackled just about every role in the classical gamut, from Juliet to Nikiya to Giselle. As the young and spirited Swanilda in this clip from Coppélia, Benjamin reveals that she has equal talent for the silly as the serious. Her comedic performance in Swanilda's doll dance is this role at its best.

In an effort to trick the scheming Dr. Coppelius and save her beloved Franz, Swanilda pretends she is the doll Coppélia come to life. As she begins to dance, Benjamin is stiff and mechanical one moment and then flopped over like a rag doll the next. Dr. Coppelius, played by character artist Luke Heydon, watches her enthralled and Benjamin's gaze is fixed in a plastic stare. But when the toymaker looks away, Benjamin's Swanilda breaks doll character and frantically tries to figure out an escape. Feebly, Dr. Coppelius tries to keep up with her. Although we feel some sympathy for the delusional old toymaker, we can't help laughing at Swanilda's antics. And that slap at 1:55? Gets us every time. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

New York City Ballet's shoe room. Photo by Tess Mayer.

Deep in the basement of Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater is a small, windowless space that's home to nearly 6,000 pairs of pointe shoes, neatly stacked on shelves that reach to the ceiling. It's New York City Ballet's shoe room, and for company members, it's one of the most important places in the world. Dancers frequently stop by to search for the ideal pair for a special performance, or to tweak their custom pointe shoe orders, trying to get that elusive perfect fit. "If the shoe isn't right, the dancer can't do her job," says shoe room supervisor and former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal Linnette Roe. We talked to Roe and NYCB soloist Emilie Gerrity about some of the most interesting—and surprising—secrets of the shoe room.

The NYCB dancers go through 9,000 to 11,000 pairs of shoes each year, including flat shoes, sneakers, jazz shoes, and character shoes. The company has an annual shoe budget of about $780,000.

Keep reading at

Younji-Grace Choi at the 2014 USA IBC. Choi is now a dancer with Cincinnati Ballet and will return to the USA IBC as a senior competitor this summer. Photo by Richard Finkelstein, Courtesy USA IBC.

Exciting news today: the USA International Ballet Competition has just announced its list of invited competitors for the summer 2018 competition. The USA IBC has invited 119 dancers from 19 countries out of over 300 applicants to compete in Jackson, MS June 10-23.

Since the last USA IBC in 2014 the competition has expanded its age limits; the junior category now allows dancers ages 14-18 and the senior category dancers ages 19-28. Of the 119 competitors this year, 53 are juniors and 66 are seniors. The United States has the highest number of competitors invited (52), followed by Japan (23) and South Korea (14). The other countries represented are Armenia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Mexico, Mongolia, Peru, Philippines, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Keep reading... Show less
Les Grabds Ballets dancer Mai Kono in a promotional phtoo for next season's production of "Lady Chatterley's Lover." Photo by Sasha Onyschenko, Courtesy Les Grands Ballets.

The latest front in the controversy over the underrepresentation of female choreographers in ballet is at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. They're facing a petition and choreographer resignation that forced them to rebrand a season and publicly defend their programming.

On February 26, artistic director Ivan Cavallari, who started the job in the summer of 2017, announced the 2018-2019 season, which included a program titled Femmes. The program announcement said the evening would have "woman as its theme," and that Cavallari had "chosen three distinctive voices, rising stars of choreography, to undertake this great subject."

The three voices Cavallari chose to create on the theme of women, however, were all men.

"This was just too much for me, it was the last straw," says Kathleen Rea, a former member of National Ballet of Canada who now freelances, choreographs and teaches in Toronto. Rea says she's been bothered by the dearth of women choreographers throughout her career. But referring to women as "subjects" and excluding them from choreographing on a program about them compelled her to take action.

Keep reading... Show less





Get Pointe Magazine in your inbox


Win It!