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David Makhateli leads class at the Grand Audition. Andrei Uspenski, Courtesy Grand Audition

When David Makhateli was about to graduate from the Royal Ballet School, financial difficulties hindered his ability to travel to auditions. "I thought it would have been so much easier to audition for several companies at once," says Makhateli, who went on to become a Royal Ballet principal. "That would have saved me money on traveling."

That experience would later inspire him and his wife, Daria Makhateli, to co-found the Grand Audition, a multi-company audition held in Barcelona each year that enables dancers and directors from around the world to connect at one destination.

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Andrew Neel via Unsplash

Artistic directors sift through hundreds of audition packets a season, and your resumé is often your first chance to catch their attention. Naturally, you want a document that makes a positive impression. But some surprising (and seemingly minor) details can inadvertently turn a director off. So, how do you make your resumé stand out—for the right reasons?

Focus on Essentials

At an audition, directors need to see your essential information at a glance: where you trained and what companies and choreographers you've worked with. Cincinnati Ballet artistic director Victoria Morgan scans for names she recognizes. "It's good to know if a dancer has worked with a respected leader in the industry, and if there's a colleague I can call as a reference. I'm also more inclined to take a second look at a student if I recognize a particular school or teacher," she says.

Your resumé should be no longer than one side of one page. "When I've got 600 resumés sitting here, a three-page resumé is a disincentive to me," says Kansas City Ballet artistic director Devon Carney. "It comes down to time—how quickly can you present your information to an unknown pair of eyes?"

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Ballet Careers
Dominic Walsh demonstrates in a DWDT rehearsal. Photo by Gabriella Nissen.

This story originally appeared in the February/March 2013 issue of Pointe.

Many years ago, a director of a company I was auditioning for approached me as I was taking off my pointe shoes and struck up a conversation. I felt nervous and shy, so I let him ask all the questions and nodded my head dutifully. I asked nothing about the company, nor did I try to express why I wanted to dance there. After an awkward pause, he politely shook my hand and walked away. At that moment, I realized I'd let the job slip through my fingers.

At the time, I assumed directors were looking for obvious things like flawless technique and a certain body type. But other factors come into play that can make or break you at an audition—especially if a director is on the fence about whom to choose.

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