Ballet Training
Dominic Walsh (right) working with Whim W'him. Photo by Bamberg Fine Art Photography, Courtesy Whim W'him.

Summer is the perfect time for busy dancers to get some much-needed rest after a long season. But it's also a good opportunity to hone your technique. Summer training opportunities for professionals are scarce, although the ones that do exist are pretty great. Now, there is a welcome addition on the horizon that we're excited about.

Choreographer and former Houston Ballet principal Dominic Walsh recently announced that he has teamed up with the Colorado Conservatory of Dance to create the Compass Coaching Project, a two-week intensive for dancers over the age of 17. Held June 4–16 in the Denver suburb of Broomfield, the workshop is specially tailored for those in trainee, second company and apprentice positions. "In today's model of a dancer's profession, there is sometimes a long transition between student and professional," Walsh says in a statement. "I believe this is a crucial time for mentorship." Indeed, a dancer's early career is often marked by anxiety and uncertainty as they spend one or more years in low-paid or unpaid junior ranks.

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News

 

Dominic Walsh, photo by Gabriella Nissen

Running a dance company can be all-consuming, especially when you serve as both its artistic director and principal choreographer. Trey McIntyre, whose Trey McIntyre Project is giving its final performances this month, recently told The Washington Post that the additional fundraising and administrative aspects of his job became too overwhelming, and contributed to his reasons for disbanding the troupe. “I’m really burnt out,” he said.

 

Dominic Walsh—whose company, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, has brought cutting-edge contemporary ballet to Houston audiences for 12 years—made a similar remark recently. In a statement released Friday, he announced he is taking a sabbatical, suspending the company’s 2014-2015 season.

 

“This decision will allow me to explore other opportunities and interests that I simply have not been free to spend time on with the many obligations I’ve committed to for these 12 years,” Walsh said in a statement. “I look forward to accepting opportunities to create and stage my works, teaching classes as a guest and coaching ballets.”

 

Walsh also notes that the sabbatical will give him more time to support his partner, Domenico Luciano, a former DWDT member now a principal dancer at Colorado Ballet. While he makes no mention of folding the company, his future plans for DWDT remain unclear.

Audition Advice
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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