Web Exclusive - Ask Amy

I can’t attend all of the auditions I want to go to this spring. What should I include in a video audition? —Carrie

 

When putting together an audition video, follow a few ground rules: Keep it concise, professional-looking and relevant to the company you’re sending it to. First, inquire whether the company has specific video requirements; if not, here are some general tips. For trainee and second-company positions, include some barre (one side only) and center exercises, along with a variation or two. But if you already have professional experience, stick to performance footage. Keep it limited to solos and pas de deux—if you only have clips of corps work, or if the recording quality is terrible, have someone with a good eye and steady hand film you in the studio. Include a range of classical and contemporary works to highlight your versatility. (My dance reel includes selections from Swan Lake and an Alonzo King ballet.) However, you may want to make more than one video so that you have options—a contemporary company that routinely performs in slippers or socks may not be that interested in your Swanhilda variation. Keep it on the shorter side (5 to 15 minutes) and place your best material first to make a good impression.

Since directors spend hours watching audition videos, make yours user-friendly. Keep it straightforward and cleanly edited, and either introduce yourself on camera or include an introduction page with your name, contact information and the list of works you’re performing. (Computer-editing programs like iMovie make it easy to splice videos together, although you can also hire a professional.) Avoid cutting major turning or jumping passages; otherwise, directors assume the worst. And whatever you do, don’t turn your audition reel into a music video. A chopped-up montage set to Top 40 hits won’t go over well.

Ballet Careers
Lenai Alexis Wilkerson. Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations.

This is one of a series of stories on recent graduates' on-campus experiences—and the connections they made that jump-started their dance careers. Lenai Alexis Wilkerson graduated from University of Southern California with a BFA in dance (dance performance concentration) and a political science minor in 2019.

As Lenai Alexis Wilkerson looked at colleges, she wanted a school that would prepare her for two totally different professions: dancing and law. "I knew, pretty much when I was 16, that I wanted to go to law school," she says. "So I wanted the opportunity to have a dual college experience, where I could have a conservatory training style within a university and I could focus equally on my academics." When she auditioned for the inaugural class of University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, she knew it was the right fit.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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News
Nicolas Pelletier in Carmina Burana. Francisco Estevez, Courtesy Colorado Ballet.

Last week, Colorado Ballet interrupted Nutcracker rehearsals for an exciting announcement: Four dancers were being promoted. Though all made the jump from the company's corps de ballet, Nicolas Pelletier ascended directly to the rank of soloist, while Sean Omandam, Emily Speed and Melissa Zoebisch were promoted to demi-soloist. This news comes hot on the heels of last August's promotion of Francisco Estevez to principal.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

While many of us are deep in Nutcracker duties, The School of Pennsylvania Ballet director James Payne has been looking further ahead, finalizing preparations for the school's summer intensive programs. In January, he and his staff will embark on a 24-city audition tour to scour the country for the best young dancers, deciding whether or not to offer them a spot—maybe even a scholarship—in the school's rigorous 5-week intensive focused on high-caliber ballet instruction. Though he'll be evaluating aspirants, he urges that as a student, you should be equally selective in choosing programs that could galvanize your training—and possibly even your career.

We got Payne's advice on strategizing your summer intensive plan before the audition cycle kicks in:

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