How can I find out which companies would be interested in hiring more mature dancers who have graduated from college, and possibly graduate school, but are still looking to pursue a professional career in ballet? —Katherine
Earning a degree before entering a company used to be widely frowned upon, for fear that dancers weren't training seriously enough or they'd be starting their careers too late. But for quite some time, more directors have been open to hiring college graduates, especially at smaller and midsized regional companies. (However, it's less common for ballet dancers to obtain a master's degree before starting their professional careers.) And many universities have tailored their degree programs so that students can gain credit for real-world experience or graduate in three years.
One of the easiest ways to see which companies are hiring college grads is to check out university alumni lists online, typically listed on dance departments' web pages. College dance programs are proud of their graduates and usually keep track of where their students have gone professionally. (Check out Pointe's 2019 Fall Issue Higher Ed Guide, which offers an extensive list of ballet programs.) I would also recommend combing through bios on company rosters to see how many of the dancers have graduated from a college dance program.
But even if a company you're interested in doesn't have a lot of graduates, don't let that deter you from auditioning—be proud of your degree! Think of your education and maturity as assets, and don't be afraid to show directors what you can bring to the table.
Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.