The Second Company Conundrum

It's the start of a new season, and many pre-professionals will be making the transition from top student to second company member. Being in a second company is one of the trickiest stages of a dancer's career: It's an opportunity to launch your professional life, but there are no guarantees that you'll be asked to stay with the organization after your one- or two-year contract is up. How can you make the kind of impression that leads to a main company offer? Alfonso Martin, artistic manager of Tulsa Ballet II, shares his advice for newbies.


What's the most difficult part of transitioning into life as a second company member?

Getting used to being completely out of your comfort zone. These dancers go from having been top students under the umbrella of their teacher to working their way up from the bottom.


How should a dancer approach the change?
Keep an open mind. You're going to rehearse like a professional dancer, meaning you'll be asked to dance not only with technique but also with emotion—and that's not an easy task. For our repertoire, dancers need to be prepared to dance not only classical ballet but also contemporary pieces.


What can second company members do to make a good impression?
Be professional. You need to be 100 percent committed to being in the studio learning, applying corrections and trying your best, as well as working on your own time. Take advantage of the opportunities you're given—they're a test, not a guarantee of a contract. And most importantly, be yourself. Don't pretend to be somebody else.


Are there any common mistakes you see second company members make?

Second company dancers too often think they're part of the organization, and that with just the minimum amount of work they will get into the main company. This is just the beginning of your career. Your work now determines whether you'll get into the main company here or end up using the experience to enter another company.


Who should second company members turn to if they are struggling?

I would hope that they could come to the leader of the second company—a person like myself—for good advice. We want them to be successful in their careers, regardless of whether they are hired by Tulsa Ballet. The goal is to guide them into the professional world and get them ready for the challenges ahead.


What's your advice for the new TBII dancers?

My advice to them is to ask themselves, “What did I come here for? To work hard and hopefully enter into the professional world, or to have some fun in a new environment?" I ask my TBII dancers for a full commitment to every single rehearsal. A dance career is quite short. When you look up, you'll find it’s time to do something else. Take every day as a new experience, and set a goal to make it better than the day before.
 
Tulsa Ballet II kicks off its season September 6 with a program called On Your Radar. It's the first time a TBII performance has been billed alongside the main company as part of the Tulsa Ballet season.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

How to Support the Black Dance Community, Beyond Social Media

The dance community's response to the death of George Floyd was immediate and sweeping on social media. Dance artists, including Desmond Richardson and Martha Nichols, used their social platforms to make meaningful statements about racial inequality. Theresa Ruth Howard's leadership spurred ballet companies including Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre, and New York City Ballet to pledge #BalletRelevesForBlackLives. Among the most vocal supporters have been dance students, who continue to share the faces and gut-wrenching last words of Black men and women who have died in police custody on their Instagram feeds and Stories.

The work we're doing on social media as a community is important and necessary—and we should keep at it. But now, that momentum must also carry us into taking action. Because to be a true ally, action is required.

A responsible ally amplifies Black voices­­. They choose to listen rather than speak. And they willingly throw their support, and, if they can, their dollars, behind Black dancers and Black dance organizations. Here are some ways you can do your part.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Class of 2020, These Ballet Stars Have a Heartfelt Video Message Just for You

Congratulations to this year's graduating seniors!

You might not have had the chance to take that long planned-for final bow, but we're here to cheer you on and celebrate all that you've accomplished. And we've brought together stars from across the ballet world to help us; check out the video to hear their best wishes for your futures.

To further fête all of the ballet grads out there, we're also giving away 100 free subscriptions to Pointe... plus, one lucky bunhead will receive a personalized message from one of ballet's biggest stars. Click here to enter!


Tulsa Ballet in Ma Cong's Tchaikovsky: The Man Behind the Music. Kate Luber Photography, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

Updated: Mark Your Calendars for These Online Ballet Performances

Updated on 5/27/2020

Since COVID-19 has forced ballet companies around the world to cancel performances—and even the remainder of their seasons—many are keeping their audiences engaged by streaming or posting pre-recorded performances onto their websites or social media channels. To help keep you inspired during these challenging times, we've put together a list of upcoming streaming events and digital performances.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks