ABT's Calvin Royal III in Alexei Ratmansky's Serenade after Plato's Symposium. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.

Miami City Ballet's National Tour

Artists of Miami City Ballet in Justin Peck's Heatscape. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Miami City Ballet.

In late April at the Harris Theater, Chicagoans found Miami City Ballet firing on all cylinders, following the company's Lincoln Center debut and an engagement at Northrop in Minneapolis. Stage-filling Balanchine classics like Bourrée Fantasque, Serenade and Symphony in Three Movements struck a perfect balance between relaxed exuberance and clean execution, while seasoned stars like Jeanette Delgado and Renato Penteado shone in contemporary works by Justin Peck (Heatscape) and Liam Scarlett (Viscera), respectively. Most memorably, a dream team of 23 artists—including the irrepressible Nathalia Arja—gave a commanding presentation of Symphonic Dances, created for MCB by Alexei Ratmansky.

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Brigid Duffin and Sean Scantlebury in Ballet Theatre Company's The Nutcracker. Photo by Thomas Giroir, Courtesy Exit 12.

After two years as an apprentice with Charlotte Ballet, Lauren Fagone was excelling and expecting to be promoted. But that April, Fagone, now a leading dancer with Richmond Ballet, was notified that there were no available company positions. Even worse, audition season was already over. With no job prospects, Fagone was left in a limbo that most dancers dread: a gap year.

Whether you ended your summer program empty-handed, lost a job unexpectedly or simply had bad luck during audition season, the prospect of a year away from company life—especially when you are just entering it—can seem terrifying. Yet even though you can't control the decisions of artistic staff, you can make the most of the situation by finding a support base, structuring a consistent training regimen and working towards your long-term goals. Besides having more time to train intensely and be available for more auditions, a year off (or even two) can lend itself to personal, intellectual and social growth. Below, Fagone and two other dancers share how they took charge of their gap year—and how it benefited them.

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