Trending

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

Thinkstock.

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

Do:

  • 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.

Don't:

  • 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 ()
Ballet Stars

Words of wisdom: As a morning mental warm-up, Stephanie Rae Williams, of Dance Theatre of Harlem, recites an affirmation, like "Today is a great day" or "You can and you will." After she suffered an injury onstage, she also started saying a mantra in the wings, such as "I am strong. I am healthy. I am capable." It helps quell her nerves backstage.

DTH's Stephanie Rae Williams shares her smart conditioning tips. Photo by Rachel Neville, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Keep reading... Show less
popular

Cleaning is a daily procedure. Proper maintenance will help extend the life of your floor and protect its special slip-resistant surface.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Catherine Conley is now a member of the National Ballet of Cuba. Photo courtesy Riley Robinson

This time last year, Catherine Conley was already living a ballet dancer's dream. After an exchange between her home ballet school in Chicago and the Cuban National Ballet School in Havana, she'd been invited to train in Cuba full-time. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and one that was nearly unheard of for an American dancer. Now, though, Conley has even more exciting news: She's a full-fledged member of the National Ballet of Cuba's corps de ballet.

Photo courtesy Miguel Gutierrez

Keep reading... Show less
News
New San Francisco Ballet principal Wei Wang in Helgi Tomasson's Concerto Grosso. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Promotions season is well underway. Earlier this spring we covered exciting changes at Boston Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet; now we're back with news from six more companies—English National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Miami City Ballet, Ballet West and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. (Stay tuned throughout the summer as additional companies release their updated rosters.) Here's who's doing a happy dance.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Quinn Wharton

San Francisco Ballet soloist WanTing Zhao counts Old Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn and current "it" model Bella Hadid as her major style icons—something which comes across in her own sartorial looks. Choosing classic pieces with on-trend elements (like her black turtleneck dress with its lace-up sleeves), Zhao also has an eye for detail, adding pops of bold color and accessorizing with delicate hoop earrings. "I usually wear turtlenecks, high-waisted jeans and sneakers," Zhao says of her off-duty style. "It's chic and comfy."

That description carries over to her studio look, too, which Zhao says is always a leotard with pink tights. "I usually wear my hair in a low bun with either a side or center part, and I like to wear a little bit of foundation, eyeliner and mascara—all from Tom Ford," she says.

Quinn Wharton

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Canadian junior finalist Mya Kresnyak in a variation from "Paquita." Photo by Richard Finkelstein, Courtesy USA IBC.

On June 10, 119 dancers from 19 countries gathered in Jackson, MS to compete in the USA International Ballet Competition. Today, the USA IBC announced the list of 32 finalists, who will compete for medals and cash awards in Round III, held June 19-21. All of the finalists will receive a travel stipend, and medalists and award winners will be announced at the competition's gala on June 22. See the full list below, and stay tuned all week on our Facebook and Instagram pages as we bring you the latest from Jackson, live.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Ulrik Birkkjaer and Susanne Grinder in Bournonville's Napoli." Photo by Costin Radu, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow Dance.

On June 20, Royal Danish Ballet will open the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival with a weeklong run in the historic Ted Shawn Theatre. The celebrated relationship between the Copenhagen-based company and the Pillow dates back to 1954, when leading RDB soloist Inge Sand stepped in to replace a dancer from another company at the last minute, resulting in her U.S. debut. Her popularity led to the company's inaugural U.S. performance at the festival the next summer. According to the Pillow's director of preservation, Norton Owen, this was also the first time that works by August Bournonville, the famed 19th-century Danish choreographer, were seen in this country. Following its success at Jacob's Pillow, RDB made its New York City debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1956, and in 1957 the King of Denmark knighted Jacob's Pillow founder Ted Shawn for his role in bringing Danish ballet to America. Over the next 20 years, soloists from RDB returned to the Berkshires frequently to great acclaim; their most recent visit was in 2007.

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Photo by Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Houston Ballet soloist Harper Watters has a good thing going on. Not only is he one of the company's rising young dancers, but he's also a ballet celebrity on social media, where he charts his life on Instagram and on his hugely popular YouTube series, "The Pre Show" (which he describes as "tons of ballet, banter, boys and lots of backstage shenanigans").

The Dover, New Hampshire, native, who seems just as comfortable in a pair of pink heels as he does onstage, trained at Walnut Hill School for the Arts and Portsmouth School of Ballet. While a member of Houston Ballet II, he landed an apprenticeship with the company after winning the Contemporary Dance Prize at the 2011 Prix de Lausanne. He joined the main company that same year and was promoted to soloist in December 2017. Known for his big personality, elegantly long lines and sensual flow in contemporary work, Watters, 26, is ready to take on the next phase of his career. He recently spoke with Pointe about his new rank and his mission to help others feel proud of who they are.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Pointe Magazine in your inbox

Sponsored

Win It!