Getty Images

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

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.

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 in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at askamy@dancemedia.com.

Latest Posts


Vikki Sloviter

Sydney Dolan Takes Center Stage at Pennsylvania Ballet

This is Pointe's Summer 2020 cover story. You can subscribe to the magazine here, or click here to purchase this issue.

Just days before the world shuttered under the strain of the coronavirus pandemic, and the curtain came down indefinitely on dance companies everywhere, Pennsylvania Ballet soloist Sydney Dolan debuted Gamzatti in La Bayadère with captivating ease. Her jumps soared, her technique was sound, and her cheeky smile paired with exquisite port de bras was beguiling. Though she didn't know the company would soon cancel the remainder of its season, her beautiful performance acted as a kind of send-off into the unknown.

Dolan's career could be described in one word: charmed. At just 19 years old, she's flown through the ranks at PAB, debuted a long list of roles, won a Princess Grace Award and been named one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch." Yet it's her challenges that have shaped not only her training but her outlook, giving her a solid foundation for becoming one of Pennsylvania Ballet's rising stars.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
VAM/Siggul, Courtesy YAGP

YAGP Has Announced the Winners of the 2020 Pas De Deux Virtual Competition

Last weekend, Youth America Grand Prix took to the internet, hosting its first virtual pas de deux competition. Over the course of three days, YAGP streamed videos from its regional events' highest-ranked competitors for a panel of esteemed judges. And, drum roll please... YAGP has just announced the winners, spanning three categories: Senior Classical, Junior Classical and Contemporary.

You can watch the full virtual awards ceremony, hosted by YAGP director of external affairs Sergey Gordeev, below, or scroll down for the list of winners. And if you're missing the thrill of competition, don't fear: Gordeev announced that registration for the 2021 season will open on July 10, with both in-person and virtual options available.

Congratulations to all!

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT

Defining and Refining Musicality: How to Tune In and Develop Your Artistic Voice

Ask a hundred people what musicality is, and you're likely to get a hundred different answers. "Musicality is where an artist's personality shines brightest," says Smuin Contemporary Ballet member Ben Needham-Wood. For American Ballet Theatre soloist Skylar Brandt, "it's what distinguishes one dancer from another. It helps me express myself more vividly and emotionally."

Teachers encourage it, directors seek it out and dancers who possess it bring choreography to life in compelling ways. But what exactly is musicality, and how can dancers get more of it?

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks