David Makhateli leads class at the Grand Audition. Andrei Uspenski, Courtesy Grand Audition

One-Stop Auditioning: Multi-Company Auditions Streamline the Job-Search Process

When David Makhateli was about to graduate from the Royal Ballet School, financial difficulties hindered his ability to travel to auditions. "I thought it would have been so much easier to audition for several companies at once," says Makhateli, who went on to become a Royal Ballet principal. "That would have saved me money on traveling."

That experience would later inspire him and his wife, Daria Makhateli, to co-found the Grand Audition, a multi-company audition held in Barcelona each year that enables dancers and directors from around the world to connect at one destination.


Makhateli isn't the only one offering this kind of opportunity—multi-company auditions have proved popular in recent years. For directors, they provide a way to evaluate dancers they might not otherwise see. For dancers, they expedite the cumbersome, expensive and time-consuming auditions process. But multi-company auditions don't follow one recipe. As these three examples prove, they're varied in their goals, demographics and pricing, so it helps to know what each offers.

Dancers perform a class combination across the floor for a panel of company directors at the Grand Audition.

Andre Uspenski, Courtesy Grand Audition

Grand Audition

Every year since 2016, the Makhatelis have directed the Grand Audition at the Teatre-Auditori de Sant Cugat, in an upscale suburb of Barcelona. A two-day affair, the audition limits each section at the barre to 48 dancers at a time, broken into groups of 12 for center. It culminates with the final group of successful dancers performing solo variations to demonstrate why they should receive contracts. "You have more chances to be seen because the classes are smaller," says 20-year-old Finnish dancer Kira Hilli, who accepted a contract with Dutch National Ballet at the Grand Audition in 2018.

Although the audition fee is pricey at €290 euros (which translates to roughly $323), Australian dancer Gabriel Sinclair Jahnke, who was offered a corps contract with the Royal Swedish Ballet there in 2018, says it's worth it. "It's so much more cost-effective than having the expense of accommodations and traveling to several auditions in different cities," says Jahnke. And it's easier on the schedules of employed professional dancers, who often can't take time off for audition tours.

A dancer performs his solo for company directors at the Grand Audition in Barcelona.

Andre Uspenski, Courtesy Grand Audition

This year's Grand Audition will include directors from major companies in Europe, the U.S. and Russia. Makhateli says that dancers from 29 countries attended in 2019, with 17 companies offering contracts. Since its inception, the number of contracts given out has varied from 27 to 44, for positions ranging from trainee to principal dancer.

Twenty-four-year-old Chloë Réveillon, then a dancer with the Paris Opéra Ballet, attended the Grand Audition in 2018. She received eight contract offers, but chose to enter her dream company, the Mariinsky Ballet, as a corps dancer. "The Grand Audition is a unique opportunity to converse on site with people interested in your career and get immediate responses," she says. "It's also an amazing opportunity to present yourself onstage and not in a studio. The artist within you shines differently."

GRAND AUDITION
When: February 4–5
Where: Barcelona, Spain
Application: Submit form with required photos and a video link of variation or specified classroom technique. €45-euro application fee. If accepted, audition fee is 290 euros. Deadline is December 30, 2019.
Age range: 17–26. Those under 18 need a letter from parent or guardian.
Website: grandaudition.net

Company and school representatives watch from the front of the studio at the 2017 IABD Audition.

Mesiyah McGuiness, Courtesy IABD

The International Association of Blacks in Dance Audition

In 1996, The International Association of Blacks in Dance established its first multi-company audition to provide more visibility and awareness of dancers of color. While IABD mainly focused on other dance genres, a women's ballet audition was added in 2016, followed by one for men in 2018. Denise Saunders Thompson, IABD's president and CEO, says that separating men and women "was specifically answering a call about ballet companies not being able to find women of color. The men don't quite have the same problems, but, in all fairness, it's still a challenge for people of color, whether men or women, in ballet."

IABD's ballet auditions are held during the four-day International Conference and Festival of Blacks in Dance, which changes cities every year. About 120 dancers ages 15 or older attend the auditions yearly (plus many more in the youth category). The format includes a class with barre work, center combinations, pointework and sometimes partnering or improvisation. At the 2019 audition in Dayton, Ohio, 31 dance organizations attended the ballet auditions, including Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and Nashville Ballet. Two women were offered full company positions and many others were awarded traineeships and scholarships.

A dancer at the 2019 IABD Audition

Eric A. Smith Crew Productions, Courtesy IABD

Twenty-year-old Danielle Guirma secured her traineeship with Richmond Ballet at IABD's audition last year. She admits that she felt more pressure than usual because there were more scrutinizing eyeballs, but she also liked having a chance to be seen by multiple directors. "I think the advantage of the IABD auditions is that directors go with the intention of looking for diversity," says Guirma. "It's good exposure because people are there to seek you out. I feel that in other auditions it's more like, 'Who can we eliminate?' "

IABD has been criticized by some for reinforcing racial division within the ballet community through an insulated audition. Thompson disagrees: "We don't want to have to do it forever, but it's fulfilling a need right now. Ballet companies are really working to figure out a plan for diversifying their organizations."

THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACKS IN DANCE AUDITION
When: January 18–19
Where: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Application: Online registration with resumé, full-body photo and headshot. $35 fee.
Age range: 15 and up
Website: iabdassociation.org/page/iabdauditionsiabdassociation.org/page/iabdauditions

Executive director Vasile Petrutiu addresses dancers at the WBC International Job Fair.

Rodrigo Athie Photography, Courtesy WBC

World Ballet Competition International Job Fair

When Vasile Petrutiu founded the World Ballet Competition in Orlando, Florida, in 2007, he noticed that artistic directors attending the event were interested in hiring some of the competitors they saw onstage. "They started offering the contestants jobs, traineeships and apprenticeships," says Petrutiu. So in 2010, WBC added an International Job Fair, a multi-company audition that is open to both competitors and noncompetitors.

The audition is held over one day, and the dancers are initially divided into medium-sized groups for barre and part of the center; then they're whittled to groups of two to six. The company representatives can ask for specific elements, like partnering. Last year Daniela Buson, assistant artistic director of Tulsa Ballet, asked the dancers to demonstrate some of William Forsythe's choreography.

Dancers perform a center combination for over 15 company directors. Class is also livestreamed for those directors who can't attend in person.

Rodrigo Athie Photography, Courtesy WBC

In 2019, over 15 companies, including Atlanta Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Festival Ballet Providence and the International Ballet of Korea, were involved. The event is also livestreamed, allowing directors who can't attend to still observe potential hires.

Petrutiu says that, unlike other ballet competitions, WBC's job fair allows dancers up to age 24 to participate, and it focuses on granting both training scholarships and contracts. (Last year, directors offered 106 scholarships and 10 contracts.) And while the job fair attracts many North American dancers, it also pulls in strong contingents from South America, Europe and Asia.

JoAnna Schmidt, a soloist with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, attended the WBC audition in 2010 and received a full scholarship to the PBT School. "I liked that it was a much smaller group than you'll find at open auditions," says Schmidt. "I also liked that it was onstage, which encouraged me to perform instead of dwelling in the mirror. There were plenty of opportunities to showcase ourselves for the representatives, including those watching the livestream."


WBC INTERNATIONAL JOB FAIR
When: June 19
Where: Orlando, Florida
Application: Video/application packet deadline March 11. $200 fee includes access to competition-round viewing. Dancers competing in the WBC have separate fees.
Age range: 16–24
Website: worldballetcompetition.com/events/intjobfair

Latest Posts


Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: 10 Dancers Making Strides In and Out of the Spotlight

The corps de ballet make up the backbone of every company. In our Fall 2020 issue, we highlighted 10 ensemble standouts to keep your eye on. Click on their names to learn more!

Dara Holmes, Joffrey Ballet

A male dancer catches a female dancer in his right arm as she wraps her left arm around his shoulder and executes a high arabesque on pointe. Both wear white costumes and dance in front of a blue backdrop onstage.

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams

Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Wanyue Qiao, American Ballet Theatre

Wearing a powder blue tutu, cropped light yellow top and feather tiara, Wanyue Qiao does a piqu\u00e9 retir\u00e9 on pointe on her left leg and pulls her right arm in towards her.

Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Houston Ballet

Three male dancers in tight-fitting, multicolored costumes stand in positions of ascending height from left to right. All extend their right arms out in front of them.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Leah McFadden, Colorado Ballet

Wearing a white pixie wig and a short light-pink tunic costume, a female ballet dancer poses in attitude front on pointe with her left arm bent across her ribs and her right hand held below her chin.

Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Maria Coelho, Tulsa Ballet

Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song

Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Alexander Reneff-Olson, San Francisco Ballet

A ballerina in a black feathered tutu stands triumphantly in sous-sus, holding the hand of a male dancer in a dark cloak with feathers underneath who raises his left hand in the air.

Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

India Bradley, New York City Ballet

Wearing a blue dance dress with rhinestone embellishments and a sparkly tiara, India Bradley finishes a move with her arms out to the side and hands slightly flexed.

India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Bella Ureta, Cincinnati Ballet

Wearing a white dress with pink corset, Bella Ureta does a first arabesque on pointe in front of an onstage stone wall.

Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake

Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Alejándro Gonzales, Oklahoma City Ballet

Dressed in a green bell-boy costume and hat, Alejandro Gonz\u00e1lez does a saut\u00e9 with his left leg in retir\u00e9 and his arms in a long diagonal from right to left. Other dancers in late 19-century period costumes watch him around the stage.

Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet

Nina Fernandes, Miami City Ballet

Wearing a long white tutu and crown, Nina Fernandes does a saut de chat in front of a wintery backdrop as snow falls from the top of the stage.

Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

Quinn Wharton

Pacific Northwest Ballet's Angelica Generosa Shares Her Classic, Comfy Style In and Out of the Studio

"I love the feeling and look of effortless fashion," says Angelica Generosa. Preferring a classic style, the Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist keeps her wardrobe stocked with blazers. But they serve a practical purpose, too. "It tends to get chilly in Seattle, so it's the perfect accessory for layering," Generosa explains.

She's also quite fond of designer handbags. "They're my go-to accessory, and they're also my weakness when shopping," she says, naming Chloé, Chanel and Dior as some of her favorite brands. "I really appreciate the craftsmanship it takes to produce one—they're so beautiful and each has its own story, in a way."

In the studio, Generosa prioritizes comfort, and she'll change up her look depending on the repertoire (leotards and tutus for classical works, breathable shirts with workout pants for contemporary). But she always arrives to work in style. "I really love putting together outfits for even just going to the studio," she says. "It's another way of expressing my mood and what kind of vibe I'm going for that day."

The Details: Street

Angelica Generosa, wearing a blue blazer, white blouse and gray jeans, is photographed from underneath as she walks and looks to the right.

Quinn Wharton

BCBG blazer: "It has some shoulder pads and a really cool pattern," says Generosa. "It reminds me of my mom and '80s fashion."

Zara blouse: She incorporate neutrals, like this white satin button-up, to balance bright pops of colors.

Angelica Generosa looks off to her right in front of a glass-windowed building. She wears a blue blazer, white blouse, gray jeans and carries a small green handbag.

Quinn Wharton

Madewell jeans: Comfort is a major factor for Generosa, who gets her fashion inspiration from her mom, friends and people she comes across day to day.

Chloé bag: "I tend to have smaller purses because I'm quite small. Bigger bags overwhelm me sometimes—unless it's my dance bag, of course!"

The Details: Studio

Angleica Generosa, wearing a blue tank leotard, black wool leggings and pink pointe shoes, balances in a lunge on pointe with her left leg in front, facing a wall of windows.

Quinn Wharton

Label Dancewear leotard: "This was designed by my good friend Elizabeth Murphy, a principal dancer here at PNB. Her leotards always fit me really well."

Mirella leggings: "I get cold easily," says Generosa, who wears leggings and vests to stay warm throughout the day.

Angelica Generosa, wearing a blue tank leotard, black wool tights and pink pointe shoes, jumps and crosses her right foot over her left shin while lifting her arms up to the right.

Quinn Wharton

Freed of London pointe shoes: "When sewing them, I crisscross my elastics and use an elasticized ribbon from Body Wrappers," which helps alleviate Achilles tendon issues, she says. She then trims the satin off of the tip of the shoe. "Then I bend the shank a bit to loosen it up and cut a bit off where my arch is."

Getty Images

This New "Nutcracker" Competition Wants Your Dance Studio to be Part of a Virtual Collaboration

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks