I'm in a second company and I'd like to use my summer layoff to do an intensive elsewhere. Is there a tactful way to bring this up to my director? —Simone
This is tricky, and depends on your director. When I was a trainee, we were free to go elsewhere until the season started again—my director only requested that we stay in shape. But others may require that you stick around, or frown upon training at another school, so make sure you know where they stand. You should be able to ask a member of the artistic staff about an official policy. Understand that there may be consequences for going behind your director's back.
Still, I think you can be honest about attending another program if you frame it the right way. Directors know that smart young dancers (especially those who haven't received a corps de ballet contract yet) need to make connections. But you want to choose language that doesn't make it seem like you're seeking other opportunities and looking to jump ship. Instead, play up the learning factor—you want to expand your skills, work with a specific teacher, practice a different style. It shows that you're a go-getter and committed to staying in shape. Hopefully your director will see your interest in expanding your horizons as a good thing.
Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor in chief and former dancer Amy Brandt at firstname.lastname@example.org.