Ballet Careers

Ask Amy: How Should I Prepare for My First Professional Dance Job?

Make sure you're comfortable slipping into pointe shoes for center. Photo by Jim Lafferty.

I was offered a company contract (my first!) starting this fall. What should I do in the meantime to make sure I'm as prepared as possible? —Melissa


Congratulations! You are about to enter an exciting new world—and you're smart to want to be prepared. Naturally, you should be in excellent shape when the season starts, so take daily ballet classes and perhaps do some cardio training or supplemental somatics, like Pilates or yoga, so you're physically strong enough to handle a full rehearsal schedule. Also, keep in mind that most companies don't offer separate pointe classes, or at least not very often—in fact, many professionals change into pointe shoes for center during morning class. If you haven't started doing this already, now is a good time to get used to the feeling.

One of the biggest differences between student and professional life is that you'll be expected to be in charge of your own progress. Company class will move faster and may feel less intense than what you're used to, and ballet masters won't spend as much time on corrections. Be conscious now of absorbing general feedback in class and applying it to your own dancing. If you make a mistake, practice analyzing what went wrong and developing a solution rather than waiting for a teacher to tell you what to do.

Get serious in the studio,

but don't forget to make

plans for living on your own.

If you know your season repertoire already, research the ballets you'll be learning, as well as the choreographers and composers. And don't just think about your job—learn about the new city you're moving to, what neighborhoods you'd like to explore and where you might like to live. Then there are practical things you'll want to get a grasp on: managing money, cooking healthy meals, doing laundry, finding a doctor and pharmacy. The more you prepare in advance, the less overwhelming your new life will feel.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

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