Taking your job hunt overseas can feel completely overwhelming, but for many dancers, it can pay off with a company contract. Pointe’s February/March Dancer Spotlight, Shelby Elsbree, landed her spot in the corps of the Royal Danish Ballet after creating her own audition tour of Europe in which she hit five companies in five countries over the course of eight days. Here’s her step-by-step guide to planning your own European audition tour.
1. Outline your trip. Start by researching companies you’d like to dance for. In most cases, you can find audition dates on company websites, along with contact information for getting in touch. (Usually the director’s secretary is the best person to contact). Most open auditions occur in the spring, usually beginning in late February. If the audition dates don’t work with your traveling schedule, feel free to ask to arrange to take a company class.
2. Prepare your application package. Create a resume, including your name, age, height, weight, contact information and a list of your dance experience (training, performance experience and major roles). Have a headshot taken and a few different pictures in standard dance poses (professional pictures are appreciated). Put together a short reel of adagio, turns, grand allegro, pointe work and a variation. Most companies will ask you to email your resume, photos and DVD before they ‘approve’ your coming to audition, so send these out as soon as possible.
3. Be persistent! Most companies are very busy getting calls from several other dancers regarding auditions. If you don’t hear back quickly via email, call the company to speak with someone in administration about planning your trip.
4. Map out the companies you will visit. Once you have dates confirmed, book your flights/train tickets as far in advance as possible to get the best prices. (Note: When traveling in Europe, it’s often cheaper to fly than to travel by train.) For each city, print out a map of where the company is located in comparison to the airport/train station. On Google Maps, you can use the ‘search nearby’ tool to find youth hostels and hotels in the neighborhood.
5. Put together a travel binder. To keep your plans organized and easily accessible while traveling, have a divider for each company, including the following:
1. A printed itinerary of your method of transportation, along with the printed boarding pass or ticket needed for travel.
2. A printed confirmation of the hotel/hostel where you will be staying (including the phone number).
3. A one page sheet on the company: including the name of the company, the director, and a short write up on that company’s repertoire (to have an idea of their style and what they may be looking for), the address and any contact information obtained while planning the trip. This might include printed emails to/from the person you’ve been in contact with.
4. A hard copy of your resume and photos to hand in at the audition.
5. A map marking the location of the airport/train station, your hotel and the company’s studios.
6. Pack the necessary items: pink tights, leotards (black and color), flat ballet slippers, pointe shoes, toe pads, warm-ups, hair brush and pins and passport.
7. Lastly, have fun! Put your best foot forward and enjoy this eye-opening experience. Enjoy the talent abroad, the different cities, cultures and customs, and present your best self! Good luck and bon voyage!