I'm often cut from the final round of auditions. Is there a polite way to follow up with directors and ask them for feedback? —Megan
When it comes to seeking feedback from directors, I think it depends on the situation and the method of communication. If it's a large cattle call and you've been cut before the final round, sticking around to ask why isn't a good idea. “I don't think there is much a dancer can do to 'hang in there' till the end of the audition if the director is not interested," says Tulsa Ballet artistic director Marcello Angelini, who says he receives more than 1,200 audition requests a year. It's one reason why he and many other directors request videos ahead of time. “If a dancer doesn't fit the look, the taste, the movement quality and technical or versatility requirements of the company, I urge them not to audition. I'd rather they spend their hard-earned funds on a place that's interested in them."
Are you hoping to get a contract this year? These top-tier companies are hiring!
Company: Miami City Ballet
MCB is holding open auditions in New York City for the 2017-18 season. Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez is seeking classically trained male and female dancers with at least 10 years of professional experience to join the Company at all ranks. Training in the Balanchine technique is a plus.
Date: March 26, 2017 3-8 pm
Location: School of American Ballet 165 W. 65 Street, New York (W. 65th St. between Amsterdam and Broadway)
Specific audition class times to be announced via miamicityballet.org
- Current headshot
- 2-3 full-body dance photographs
- Recent video (link) to a classical work, variation
Send to: Michael Sebesto – Msebesto@miamicityballet.org You will receive an email confirming receipt of pre-registration materials. No phone calls please.
Bring: Hard copies of resume, headshot and dance photos with you to the audition.
If you cannot make it to the New York audition, please submit the required materials, and you will be notified by email if you are invited to attend an audition class in Miami.
Tulsa Ballet is seeking dancers with strong classical technique for its 2017/18 Season. All auditions are by invitation only. Please send your resume and a video link of your dancing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sarasota Ballet
Sarasota Ballet is seeking strong classically trained male dancers for the 2017 – 2018 Season. Click here for more information.
American Contemporary Ballet
American Contemporary Ballet is currently hiring dancers for the 2017-18 season. Contracts are available for the full season (May–February) and summer only (May–August). Flexibility on contract start date (into May and June) is sometimes available. Click here for more information.
Date: Sunday, March 12, 2017
Location: School of American Ballet
Bring: A headshot, dance photos and resume/CV.
Pre-registration: Send the following materials to email@example.com
- C.V. (include full name, phone number, email address, citizenship, training and performance experience)
- Photos (one head shot and one full body dance photo)
- Video (high quality stage or studio video that display a range of repertoire, no more than ten minutes; a link to online material will be accepted)
Date: Saturday, March 11, 2017
Location: Joffrey Ballet School 434 6th Ave, New York, NY
Registration: 2:00 pm–3:00pm, $10 registration fee
Audition: 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
The Accademia Teatro alla Scala Ballet School in Milan, Italy, is now accepting applications for 2017.
Duration: The complete path of the ballet school lasts 8 years, each one from September to June. An exam is given at the end of each year. If admitted, all pupils are admitted for one academic year only and must reapply for following years.
Attendance: Mandatory. Lessons are held Monday through Friday for levels 1-5 and Monday through Saturday for higher-level courses. Courses 1-3 meet in the afternoon, courses 4-7 are full-day.
Prerequisites for admission:
- Candidates who are in the 5th year of elementary school during the 2016/2017 school year may apply for the Level 1 course.
- For higher courses (Levels 2-7), the candidates must show that they are prepared to be admitted to the courses corresponding to their middle school or high school level.
- Candidates for Level 7 must be under 18 years of age on Friday, March 24, 2017.
Selection: In order to be admitted to the courses, the candidate must pass a screening test, as described into the official Announcement (Point 7, 8 and 9). Please, download it and read it carefully. The admission tests will take place in late April at the Ballet School in Milan (Italy), according to the calendar specified at the point 9 of the Announcement. No other exam sessions are scheduled for the year.
Venue: Ballet School of the Accademia Teatro alla Scala – Milan | Accademia Teatro alla Scala – Milan.
Fees: registration fee to the selection of € 85 + attendance fees to be paid with a Bank SDD (SEPA Direct Debit) in installments. Please, read carefully the official Announcement for all the details about fees and tuitions, as for scolarships and exemptions available for admitted pupils. Download here the document to apply for scolarships/exemptions .
Application 2017/18: applications must be completed and submitted online, by clicking on the “Apply now” button, NO LATER THAN FRIDAY, MARCH 24, 2017.
The following documents (scanned) must be included with the application, as detailed into the official Announcement, point 6:
- valid identification for both parents or legal guardian (identity card or passport)
- receipt for payment of €85.00 (eighty-five euros)
- candidate’s codice fiscale (Italian national identification number) or statement declaring that the candidate does not have an Italian “codice fiscale”
- a professional quality photograph, passport format of the candidate’s face
- account’s holder codice fiscale (Italian national identification number) or statement declaring that the candidate does not have an Italian “codice fiscale”
Each document must not exceed 1 MB. Documents must be in doc, docx, pdf, jpeg, jpg, png format only.
Be sure to check our Auditions Page regularly!
Life has a funny way of working out sometimes. When our cover girl, Jahna Frantziskonis, took company class on a lark at San Francisco Ballet during a trip to California, she had no idea she’d wind up with a job offer. She soon faced a dilemma—to stay in her current company, where she had a secure and promising future, or risk the unknown by joining the much larger SFB. She chose the latter, and it turned out to be a smart career move. With her go-for-broke technique and onstage charm, this rising corps dancer has been racking up roles since her arrival.
As Frantziskonis proves, taking chances can come with major benefits. Of course, most of us don’t have our dream job fall into our lap—we have to audition. But that’s where a fearless attitude can help you the most. Take it from BalletMet dancer Grace-Anne Powers. Throughout her career, she’s auditioned countless times and secured contracts with four widely different companies. Needless to say, she’s figured out a few things along the way. Read her essay, “Finding Your ‘Yes,’ ” for her insights on how to increase your chances of success. Then, turn to our Auditions Guide for more information on companies looking for dancers like you.
Audition season is also a time to consider expanding your horizons, especially with the recent boom of ballet dancers on Broadway. (Since 2014, five New York City Ballet dancers alone have made debuts in musicals!) But the audition process for musical theater is vastly different. Read “From Ballet Company to Broadway” for tips on how to prepare. As you steel yourself for the job hunt, remind yourself that you have nothing to lose. Approach your auditions with confidence and an open mind, and you may just find your dream job.
How do you “perform" at auditions without being obnoxious? —Mikayla
Auditions are no place to hide or act self-consciously—but there's a fine line between being assertive and being aggressive. Focus on keeping your movements lush without getting in the other dancers' way. Keep your face pleasant and relaxed (emphatic nodding and sky-high eyebrows signal that you're eager to please, but can come across as student-y). A bright leotard or hair accessory can help the panel notice and remember you. But more importantly, pay attention to what the director is asking for in class. They're more apt to notice a fast learner or precise musicality.
Just as all the Nutcracker madness comes to an end, summer intensive audition season begins. Whether you’re looking to spend your first summer away from home or hoping to get your foot in the door at your dream company, auditioning can be a daunting process. To help you manage this anxious time of year, we've mined the Pointe archives for our best tips on the audition process—everything from researching schools to battling audition day jitters to paying for the program itself.
1. Start by researching schools. Our 2017 Summer Intensive Guide features 100s of programs and is a great place to start. Search for schools by state or country, and find information on tuition, housing and classes all in one place.
2. Develop a strategy. Think about your goals. What do you hope to achieve this year? Doing so can help you figure out which auditions to prioritize.
- Are you hoping to branch out and learn a new style?
- Are you looking for year-round training or professional opportunities?
- Or, perhaps you're interested in checking out a college dance program?
3. Quell your audition anxiety. If you feel paranoid that the teachers leading the audition will write you off, you’re most likely overreacting. Making mistakes, having to ask a question, or not catching the director's eye does not necessarily mean you’re going to be rejected. Nevertheless, auditioning is hard. These strategies, such as preparing the night before or treating the audition as a master class, can help you keep your jitters at bay.
4. If you’re auditioning with an injury, speak up or look into alternative audition methods, such as a video submission. Better to let the adjudicators know about your limitations up front than to have them question your abilities.
5. You got in. Now what? If you’ve gotten into one school but are waitlisted for the one you really want to go to, what do you do? Navigating the admission process can be tricky. There’s sometimes room to negotiate—read about your options here.
6. You didn’t get in. Now what? It’s not the end of the world. In fact, a failed audition can be a valuable learning experience (and a “no” this year doesn’t mean you won’t get in next year). In fact, your second or third choice school could actually be a better fit.
7. Make a plan to pay for it. If you’ve gotten into your dream program but don't know how to pay for it, consider crowdfunding, scholarships and other creative budget strategies.
I always get sick during Nutcracker. Help! —Emily
Long days, late nights, chilly weather and overworked bodies make the perfect recipe for disaster during Nutcracker season. I'll never forget burning up with a fever backstage in my Arabian costume, or the time when a flu outbreak caused major casualties in our Snow and Flower corps. Staying well requires a combination of nutrition, hydration and sleep—not to mention preparedness and discipline.
Your meals should include a combination of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to ensure you're receiving essential vitamins and minerals. Use your days off to stock up on groceries and prepare meals for the week to minimize late-night cooking, and keep lots of healthy snacks, like fruits and vegetables, in your bag to stay fueled throughout the day. Most importantly, hydrate. Water oxygenates the blood, flushes toxins, wards off inflammation and keeps the lymphatic system working properly—all keys to a healthy immune system. You may also want to take a daily multivitamin.
Ballet company auditions are hard to dodge for anyone aspiring to the profession. But they can serve as valuable learning tools by helping dancers determine which types of companies they prefer and ascertain the best ways to present themselves as artists. “How can I be seen in an audition?” “What should I say to a director?” “How do I handle my nerves?” Those are among the valid questions that the three professional dancers here thought about before plunging into the audition circuit. Over time, they’ve discovered ways to use the audition process to their advantage to bolster, rather than sabotage, their confidence and to reveal who they are as artists.
Bri George: Make a good impression
In 2015, after dancing principal roles with Orlando Ballet for six seasons, Bri George was ready for a change and started thinking about auditioning. Based on insight gleaned from previous jobs and auditions, she knew that a small American company would be best for her. “Once I knew that, I looked at all the smaller companies that had a good repertoire and good leaders,” says George, now with Ballet Arizona. “That helped me decide who to audition for.”
She found that having experience gave her a competitive edge. As a student, George had assembled a video of her classwork to send to potential employers. And after working as a trainee with Boston Ballet, she attended numerous cattle-call auditions before joining Orlando Ballet. But as she gained professional experience, her strategy changed. In an effort to eschew mass auditions, she pieced together performance excerpts from videos that demonstrated her stage skills and posted it to a private YouTube page, then emailed the link specifically to directors or ballet masters.
“I reached out to friends in companies and got their opinion on who was the best person to contact—someone in the company to talk to personally instead of just sending my stuff out there hoping someone would look through it,” says George. “Then we could take it from there,” hopefully receiving an invitation to take company classes. After an audition, she found that shaking hands, stating her name, thanking the director and expressing her interest in the company helped make a good impression.
Despite her solid experience, George received a lot of rejections. “Even this year, I got about 10 ‘nos’ ” she says, before landing her contract with Ballet Arizona. But over the years she had learned how to channel rejection in a positive way. “It took a couple times of putting myself out there to fully understand how to use it as fuel to push myself harder,” she says. “You can’t take it personally. You never know what they’re looking for.”
Advice: “Dancers are so focused on how many turns they can do, or who has the highest extensions and the best feet. While that’s important, you also need to be expressive in your dancing. Directors want to see you looking happy doing what you love.”
Megan Zimny Kaftira: Take chances.
Megan Zimny Kaftira joined Boston Ballet at 19, and it seemed like the perfect fit for that period of her life. But after four years, her career felt stagnant. “I wanted to grow deeper,” says Kaftira, now a soloist at Dutch National Ballet. “Europe was calling my name.”
She also knew that, unlike her younger self, she wouldn’t be grateful settling for any contract. “When you’re inexperienced, you don’t get a ton of choice,” she says. “As I grew older, I had developed more as a person. I could pick and choose a bit more.” During the company’s January break in 2010, Kaftira planned an audition tour to the UK and the Netherlands. After meticulously preparing her DVDs, photos and resumé, Kaftira set out on her first trip to Europe alone, scheduling company class auditions with The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet and Dutch National Ballet. Each offered opportunities to grow artistically, she says, through “their strong classical story ballet repertoire, interspersed with plenty of contemporary and Balanchine programs.”
Despite her impeccable preparation, however, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Kaftira arrived in Amsterdam late in the evening the day before her audition. Searching for a grocery store, she became disoriented, walking in circles in the maze of streets along Amsterdam’s concentric canals. “I was lost for three hours in the dark, in the rain,” she says. “I wore holes in my socks.”
Nerves, too, were an issue. “I deal with them quite a lot,” she says. “But accepting who I am as a person and dancer helped me be at ease with them.”
Though Kaftira initially had her sights on London, she fell in love with Amsterdam. She particularly found a natural rapport with Dutch National Ballet director Ted Brandsen. “Speaking with him was really easy, comfortable and honest,” she says. “I felt like we were more like colleagues and we could speak more freely.”
While auditioning overseas was challenging, Kaftira says, the risks were worth it. “Just putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation helps you grow,” she says. “If you don’t get the contract you desire, it’s still a really big learning experience. It can’t hurt to try.”
Advice: “It’s really important to see the company and meet the people you’ll be working with on a daily basis. Explore the city, because it’s a really big decision. You should love the place you choose. This career is short—you want to enjoy it.”
Sarah Griffin: Let your confidence shine through.
Sarah Griffin relishes being the first person to arrive at an audition. “I have no qualms about being auditionee number one, the first one at the barre,” says the Colombian-born Oregon Ballet Theatre corps member. “Being early helps me get the lay of the land, so I can see what the studio’s like, feel out the floor and get into my own personal warm-up zone.”
How did she become such a confident auditioner? Griffin attended Barnard College in New York City—and attended every open company audition possible. After dancing with Dance Theatre of Harlem (where she learned to “own what makes me different”), she moved to San Francisco to freelance, performing with Oakland Ballet Company and Amy Seiwert’s Imagery. Working with contemporary choreographers, she says, gave her the skills to be seen as a singular artist. Griffin highlights the contrasting approaches of ballet auditions versus contemporary auditions, which vet dancers on their abilities to digest choreography, including through improvisation exercises or even contact improv with a partner.
Griffin recalls how unsteady she was at her first improv audition. Watching more experienced dancers from the sidelines, she thought, “What makes them so good?” Over time, she discovered that good improvisation demands some preparation in the studio (she culls from a catalogue of favorite phrases), as well as knowing her strengths. The key is to make smooth transitions: “You need to organically move from one step to another.” Improvisation skills, she says, have also improved her classical technique by sharpening her mind–body connection and imagination, and honing her eye for detail.
When Griffin, standing a statuesque 5' 8", auditioned for Oregon Ballet Theatre in 2014, she was 27. “I was the tallest one, the brownest one and the oldest one in the room,” she says. “But being experienced in a room full of 18-year-olds and showing my personality and capability made me stand out immediately.”
Griffin’s confident communication skills with OBT artistic director Kevin Irving helped establish a working relationship from the get-go. (In another audition, she even challenged a director on his 5' 7" height limit for women, claiming that there were plenty of tall men in the company to partner her.) “It’s not just about holding your hands and nodding and being the good girl,” she says. “We need to speak up for ourselves and ask legitimate questions about a contract. You can be gracious without being dull and generic.”
Advice: “It’s one thing to be able to show your stuff onstage with adrenaline. But you also have to channel that feeling in the studio. You’re not just auditioning as a technician, but as a complete artist.”