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.

Summer Intensive Survival
Getty Images

There's a sweet spot toward the end of August—after summer intensives have wrapped up and before it's time to head back to school or work—where the days are long, lazy and begging to be spent neck-deep in a pile of good books. Whether you're looking for inspiration for the upcoming season or trying to brush up on your dance history, you can never go wrong with an excellent book on ballet. We've gathered eight titles (all available at common booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble) guaranteed to give you a deeper understanding of the art form, to add to your end-of-summer reading list.

Keep reading... Show less
Site Network
James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico warm up onstage. Angela Sterling, Courtesy SDC.

On a sunny July weekend, hundreds of Seattle-area dance fans converged on tiny Vashon Island, a bucolic enclave in Puget Sound about 20 miles from the city. They made the ferry trek to attend the debut performance of the fledgling Seattle Dance Collective.

SDC is not a run-of-the-mill contemporary dance company; it's the brainchild of two of Pacific Northwest Ballet's most respected principal dancers: James Yoichi Moore and Noelani Pantastico. The duo wanted to create a nimble organization to feature dancers and choreographers they felt needed more exposure in the Pacific Northwest.

Keep reading... Show less
News
Roman Mejia in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB.

The Princess Grace Foundation has just announced its 2019 class, and we're thrilled that two ballet dancers—New York City Ballet's Roman Mejia and BalletX's Stanley Glover—are included among the list of über-talented actors, filmmakers, playwrights, dancers and choreographers.

Keep reading... Show less
Trending
The Royal Ballet's Alexander Campbell and Yasmine Naghdi in Ashton's The Two Pigeons. Tristram Kenton, Courtesy ROH.

While most ballet casts are 100 percent human, it's not unheard of for live animals to appear onstage, providing everything from stage dressing to supporting roles. Michael Messerer's production of Don Quixote features a horse and a donkey; American Ballet Theatre's Giselle calls for two Russian wolfhounds; and Sir Frederick Ashton's La Fille Mal Gardee requires a white Shetland pony. Another Ashton masterpiece, The Two Pigeons, is well known for its animal actors. But though ballet is a highly disciplined, carefully choreographed art form, some performers are naturally more prone to flights of fancy—because they're birds.

Keep reading... Show less