Ballet Careers
Remie Goins, a student at International City School of Ballet in Atlanta, performs at the YAGP finals. Photo by VAM, Courtesy YAGP.

You've watched First Position, the 2011 documentary about dancers at Youth America Grand Prix. You've studied videos of past ballet competition winners online. Now, you're interested in joining those elite ranks by entering a competition yourself. But what if your school doesn't have a program set up to guide you through the process? Pointe asked four experts to break down what ballet competition newbies need to know.

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Photo via World Ballet Competition live stream.

Though the World Ballet Competition based in Orlando, FL, is already under way, it's not too late for for you to start watching from the comfort of your own couch. A live stream of the competition is available through Saturday, June 16, on both the competition's website and Facebook page. Missed the first two days of the competition? You can watch them in full here.

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American Dance Competition


As a young dancer with Orlando Ballet, Audrianna Broad watched her former classmates from Harid Conservatory struggle—and fail—to  find work dancing professionally. “It takes a lot for dancers, girls especially, to make it in ballet,” she says. “But it helps if important people are watching them.” So, after earning a degree in economics from Rollins College (while still dancing full-time), Broad founded the American Dance Competition.


Now going into its fifth year, the annual competition is still evolving. Dancers first compete in a non-elimination preliminary round in which they learn two classical variations, one coda and one contemporary variation and then perform them—all in one day. “This puts everyone on an even playing field so the judges can see their strengths and weaknesses in comparison to the other dancers,” says Broad. “Everyone gets the same amount and quality of coaching.”


For the second round, students bring as many solo or group variations as they’d like, although most perform two classical and one contemporary piece. The judges’ comments are recorded for dancers to listen to after the competition.


Each year, ADC awards about $25,000 in scholarships to 10 to 12 contestants. Directors of regional companies and schools (including Atlanta Ballet and BalletMet Columbus) often offer apprenticeships and traineeships. Starting this year, dancers who score high enough will be invited to the international final round in Shanghai.


Although most competitors are from Florida, any student aged 7 to 21 is invited to enter. Registration for the March 2010 competition begins November 2. Visit

—Jennifer Stahl


Twelve Schools, One Anniversary


Canada’s National Ballet School celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with an array of activities. One highlight will be the Assemblée Internationale 2009, a weeklong choreographic festival that will bring more than 120 students from12 NBS partner schools to Toronto. The participating schools (all of which already have a pre-existing relationship with NBS) are San Francisco Ballet School, The Royal Ballet School, Paris Opéra Ballet School, National Ballet School of Cuba, Royal Danish Ballet School, Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, Hamburg Ballet School, Stuttgart’s John Cranko School, Dresden’s Palucca Schule, Rotterdam’s Codarts, Amsterdam’s National Ballet Academy and The Hague’s Royal Conservatory.


Each school will perform a traditional work that reflects the ballet legacy of their particular culture. A second performance will feature choreography by the students themselves—and each piece will be danced by a mixed cast of students from the 12 different schools.


Toronto-born Rob Binet, 17, will represent NBS with Surge, his work for seven couples. “I love choreography, and that’s what I want to do for a career,” he says. He’s excited for the unusual opportunity to set his work on an international group of dancers.
“The collaborative process during these joint rehearsals is what’s of real importance,” says NBS artistic director Mavis Staines. “In addition, the students will also get different techniques from a wide variety of ballet teachers.” The festival concludes with a student-centered conference that focuses on themes such as the challenges of becoming a professional dancer. The Assemblée Internationale 2009 takes place November 15–21 in Toronto.

—Paula Citron


USAIBC Dance School


Even if you’re not competing in the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS, you can still participate, albeit offstage, through the affiliated International Dance School. During this two-week summer program, intermediate and advanced students ages 12 and up study with renowned faculty (including Rhodie Jorgenson and Tatiana Tchernova) and watch every night of the competition. “The combination of dancing all day and watching the ballet ideal we’re striving for was the best balance for my learning style,” says Aimee Long, a former participant who is now a freelance dancer. At the last USAIBC in 2006, a handful of the 296 students were selected to receive scholarships to summer programs at Boston Ballet, The Rock School and Joffrey Ballet. Applications for 2010 USAIBC International Dance School will become available in late November.



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