Ballet Training
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I'm in my second year as a trainee. I like the company, but it's hard to tell if the director sees a place for me here long-term. I don't want to waste my time hoping for a contract that may never come. Any advice? —Eryn

Don't pin all your hopes on one company. A traineeship is a very vulnerable position, and the director is under no obligation to hire you. Several times I've seen young dancers, even those who've been verbally promised a job, end up empty handed. Budgets change, sometimes causing rosters to shrink, or directors hire an outside dancer instead of promoting from within. I'm not trying to scare you—I just want to encourage you to protect yourself and be proactive about your future.

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Ballet Training
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I'm at the point in my training where my teachers say that I have the steps down, but my dancing needs something more exciting. They especially tell me to use my face more, but I'm having trouble figuring out how to do that without just plastering on a smile. —Hannah

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Ballet Training
Photo courtesy Catherine Park.

What's the best way to store or hang a tutu? —Leslie

Tutus are very delicate and expensive, so storing them properly is a must—especially if you have pets. (I once woke up to my cat chewing my Marzipan tutu to pieces!) I asked Laura Berry, costume shop manager and tutu designer at The Rock School for Dance Education, for her pro tips.

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Ballet Training
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I have very hyperextended legs, and when I do sauts de chat my teachers say my back leg looks bent, even if I try my hardest and think it's straight. Why is this happening, and do you have any tips? —Eden

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Ballet Training
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I've noticed that my progress has plateaued. Class starts out pretty well, but once we get to center, it seems like I am not improving whatsoever. Help! —Sade

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Summer Intensive Survival
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I'm a young dancer, and I've been accepted to a prestigious summer program. I know intensives are a good way to get my name known in the dance world. How do I give a good impression without seeming nervous? —Lydia

Relax! It sounds like you still have several years before you need to worry about networking for a job. Instead of placing all of your focus on what the school director thinks of you, shift your priority to soaking up as much as you can from your classes. That said, you can make a good impression by working hard, being open to corrections (and quickly applying them) and asking smart questions.

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Ballet Training
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I'm 15 and want to be a professional ballet dancer. I have ballet five times a week, contemporary once a week and rehearsals year-round. It is 15 to 20 hours a week. When I hear about dancers doing 30-plus hours a week, I worry that I dance too little. Is my schedule enough? —Caroline

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Health & Body
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How frequent is too frequent for ballet injuries? I'm a college ballet major with a rigorous schedule. Within the past year, I've had two sprained ankles, surgery for a labral tear in my hip and now possibly a stress fracture in my metatarsal. I cross-train and go to physical therapy regularly, and I always do my best to exercise proper technique. —Kyra

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Ballet Careers
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

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Trending
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I don't have full 180-degree turnout, so I can't make the same beautiful lines that other dancers can. Even if I strengthen my body enough to utilize my full range of motion, will anyone ever hire me? —Carmen

Let's face it—very few dancers are born with a "perfect" ballet facility. Some struggle with their feet or knees; I dealt with an inflexible back. Part of being an artist means learning to work with the body you have. I personally have known several beautiful dancers with less-than-ideal turnout who went on to have successful careers. Sure, sometimes their limited turnout was noticeable. But for the most part, my eye was drawn to their strengths.

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Ballet Training
Photo by Lambtron, via Wikimedia Commons

Can you superglue your vamp? I am new to pointe and don't know where to apply it. —Amanda

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Ballet Careers
Zachary Guthier and Erica Felsch dancing at National Choreographers Initiative during a summer layoff. Photo by Dave Friedman, Courtesy NCI.

I have a short contract at a small company. What's the best way to build connections for freelance gigs during my layoff? —Allison

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