My school is connected to a professional company that operates on a show-to-show basis. Students can audition for company performances when they're 15. My 15th birthday is in February, and I think that our directors are choosing people to participate in virtual performances based off of whether they have performed with the company before. This was supposed to be my big first year with the company, but COVID-19 has changed that. How do I make it known that I want to participate? Do you think I should wait until things are more normal? —Lila
There's no question that the coronavirus pandemic has forced companies to make adjustments to their seasons and rosters. But even if your local company is only working with dancers who've performed with them before for their upcoming show, there's no harm in letting them know that you'd love to be considered. You'll be within the age requirements, plus you attend the affiliated school and have a history with the organization. Why not see if it's a possibility?
Since you are still a student, I would first speak with your teachers. Remind them that you'll be turning 15 and eligible for the company's spring performance. They can best direct you on how to convey your interest to the artistic staff, since they understand the culture and structure of the organization. For instance, they may prefer to speak to artistic staff on your behalf, or they might suggest that you email the company manager (the person who typically filters audition applications for the director). Or, they may tell you to contact a member of the company's artistic staff. An email is probably best if you don't work with the director or ballet masters frequently, but this is a better question for your teachers.
Once you have established what the proper channels are, think about what you want to say. Keep it honest and professional: that you've grown up dancing at the school and watching the company and would love to audition for the spring virtual performance. If you know anything about the choreographer or the work that is being performed, say what you admire about it. Acknowledge that spots might be limited because of COVID-19, and that you would be willing to be an understudy. (Understudying is an important stepping-stone: You can learn so much from being in rehearsals with the company, even virtually, and being prepared to go in for someone will make a strong impression.) You may also want to include a video link of your dancing if the director isn't familiar with it. They may or may not offer you a position, but they'll at least know how you feel and that you're serious enough to make it known.
And if it doesn't work out this year? Take heart—you are still young, and there will be more opportunities once the pandemic passes. If you have ambitions to dance professionally, this will be good practice for preparing cover letters for company auditions in the future.
Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at email@example.com.