This story originally appeared in the February/March 2015 issue of Pointe.
I'm from a small studio and don't have a lot of outside dance connections. I'm afraid that when I audition for companies, I won't stand a chance against students from professional schools who already know the teachers. How can I make up for this? —Erin
Don't automatically assume you're a second-rate dancer—be proud of your hard work and training! Having connections is certainly helpful, but they're not the determining factor driving directors' decisions, especially when it comes to entry-level positions and traineeships. Directors are searching for solidly trained, malleable young dancers with potential. If they see those qualities in you, your lack of big-name contacts won't matter that much. I trained at my local studio in Illinois and didn't have a ton of connections, either, but I was still able to secure a traineeship with Milwaukee Ballet after graduating high school.
That said, you want to put your best self forward. Make sure your resumé is professional-looking, and prominently list your major roles, scholarships/awards you've won and summer programs you've attended. You can be a little savvy, too. For instance, I listed my teacher, who danced in Ballet Arizona, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Ballet Austin, under her maiden name in case someone I was auditioning for recognized it. Be sure to have your high-quality dance photos ready and references handy, just in case.
At the audition, try not to feel intimidated by the other students—you're all in the running, and you want to be assertive enough that the directors see you. And while you should always try for your dream company, be open-minded about where to audition. Small and midsized regional companies may offer more opportunities for students from local studios than big-name companies that tend to draw from their own schools.
Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.