Category Archives: Audition Advice

Summer Program Savvy

As the end of June approaches many of you will head off to your very first summer ballet intensive program. With your suitcases packed have you left anything behind? You have surely packed enough leotards and pointe shoes to get you through the 3-6 weeks that you will be away from home. Have you forgotten the most important thing you will need for your summer intensive?

The most common thing that dancers forget to do before leaving for a ballet summer intensive program is set goals. Why are you doing this summer intensive program? To improve, right? But what exact areas of your dancing are you looking to improve? Let’s face it, without setting goals what exactly will you get out of your summer intensive experience?

Before you leave home (or even if you are in your first few weeks of the intensive) write down these questions in your ballet journal. ( I cover the journal details in a previous blog and in my book The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide)

What do I feel that I most need to improve on this summer? This could be anything from pirouettes to technique.

What have my teachers been encouraging me to improve on? This would be the corrections that you get in class or at the school year-end conference.

What do I need to do to make these corrections over the summer? Listen to the teachers, focus, etc

Why did I choose this summer intensive? List the key reasons that you decided to go to this particular summer program. Anything from teaching staff to city.

What do I most want to accomplish this summer at (fill in your summer intensive name) ? What is your ultimate goal in attending this particular summer program? Do you perhaps want to be asked to stay for this school’s year-round program?

By answering these questions and looking them over every few days, you will stay on track at your summer program. I know it sounds kind of dorky but if you really want to become the best dancer you have to set goals and remind yourself of those goals consistently. Have fun and make friends but remember, you are there to dance!

Patricia McBride and I at Chautauqua Summer Intensive

Getting Hired by a Ballet Company

After putting in years of hard work and training, you have decided that you want to be a professional ballet dancer. Sounds like every little girls dream, right?

It definitely is everyone’s dream to do what they love for a living and to be able to get paid for it, but with so many companies only offering unpaid trainee and apprentice positions dancing can sometimes turn into a dreaded job. With the economy going into a recession a few years ago, funding for the arts definitely suffered more than it was already suffering…and it obviously isn’t going to bounce back as quickly as the rest of the working world.

So what can you do?

This is where the young dancer needs to be economically smart. Dancing is still a job no matter how much we love the self-fulfillment that we get from artistic expression. And when you do a job, especially on a long-term or contractual basis, you should receive payment.

A lot of these unpaid offers that you may get from companies may sound very attractive. They may give you pointe shoes and free chiropractic/ massage therapy visits, but make sure that this is the right deal for you. It may sound like an awesome idea to move away from home and go live out your dream, but please consider how you will be able to fund your passion. Will Mom and Dad help out? How much money are they willing to contribute? Will you have to get another part-time job? Will you have to get two other part-time jobs? Even more importantly- Will you have time to work a part time job?

The other thing that you need to consider is whether or not you will actually get time dancing with the company. A lot of apprentice programs these days sell you on the fact that you are joining the apprentice or trainee group of a company, however there is very little interaction with the actual company. (company class, rehearsals, etc) A lot of apprentice and trainee programs have their own seperate classes, rehearsals, and sometimes don’t even get a chance to perform with the company. You can look at it as an extra year of schooling.

I don’t want to tell you not to take an unpaid apprenticeship, as there is definitely a value to the learning experience, but be very picky as to which program you choose. Companies are able to “try it before they buy it” so to speak with these ever growing second companies and apprentice programs. I have been fortunate enough in my career to always have secure paid ballet employment, but it pains me to see young dancers who aren’t being paid struggle. When I say struggling I mean working 2 part time jobs in addition to dancing to pay the bills or put food on the table.

My advice to you is to be smart. Listen to your parents. Make wise choices or you may find yourself in a position where you’ll really find out what it is to be a “starving artist.”

Break Bad Audition Habits

What is the worst thing that you can do in an audition?

I’m sure you ask yourself this questions each time you walk in the audition room to try out for a new ballet school or company.

If you are like most dancers, you worry yourself silly about things like what the directors are looking for, what body-type they prefer, or even what color leotard you should wear. We all worry about these things that we can’t control in the audition rather than focusing on the factors that really make the huge difference. This is what causes us to form bad habits. What we should be doing is focusing on the things that we can control. And that is just the half of it.

Luckily I have written Inside the Audition to go along with my Ballet Audition Preparation Guide techniques to tell you exactly what not to do inside the audition room! With audition season already upon us, you cannot afford to make these mistakes. They may cost you a job or spot in the company or school of your dreams.

Don’t lose out to your competitors this audition season. Download these must-have dancer guides now! Best of all, you don’t have to wait for it to be shipped, the tips are available immediately following the download.

I can’t wait to hear how much it improves your audition skills.

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein
www.balletaudition.com
www.balletstrength.com

Ballet Audition Season has Begun

Who will they pick? (photo from balletnews.com)

It is that time again…audition time! You have all worked so hard over the summer to improve your technique in hopes of getting in to the company of your dreams someday. Let me just tell you, that day is coming soon and if you have the right preparation techniques you will get hired quite easily.

Luckily I have made all of the mistakes and found the secrets to success for you. Last year I took all of these experiences and wrote a book called The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide to keep you from making some of the mistakes that I made and to help you learn from my successes as well.

I feel that there is way too much information withheld from young dancers regarding the careers of dancers. A lot of times our ballet teachers sugar-coat the lifestyle. It is not all sugarplums and tutus. My eBook The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide along with my new guide Inside the Audition will tell you everything you need to know to get what you want out of auditions and get noticed.

I can’t tell you how many dancers emailed me over the past year thanking me for sharing such valuable information with them through my preparation guides, and I am truly touched. A lot of these dancers attribute their success in getting hired by ballet companies (of course talent plays a huge role too) to my books. I am truly flattered and thankful for the kind words.

So to show my appreciation and my commitment to your success as dancers, I am offering Inside the Audition free now with the purchase of The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide. You can get your very own copy for immediate download at www.balletaudition.com.

Enjoy, and I can’t wait to hear about all of your audition success this season!

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein

Back to School Ballet

The summer may be coming to an end, but you have so much to look forward to with the new school year and ballet school year starting. Before you know it, Nutcracker will be just around the corner and you will be getting ready for summer program auditions all over again.

That’s why now is the best time to work on your ballet strength and audition preparation in anticipation of the busy months to come.

Don’t let your competition get ahead of you this year. Take control of your career as a dancer!

Luckily I have everything you need to know already written out for you in my two books that you can order super easy online. (you don’t even have to wait for them to ship!)

You can find my books >>HERE<<

Also, be sure to check out Ballet Strength© in the upcoming issue of Pointe Magazine!

I’m looking forward to helping you!

Happy Dancing,
Nikol Klein

The information in this email is copyright © protected.

Cross Training for Ballet Strength

Improve your technique by cross training.

As Summer approaches, many Dancers will embrace a much needed three or four month layoff. Some will vacation, some will continue to obsessively take class day after day. The smart Dancer Cross Trains. To continue Dancing with the intensity you had during the season is like beating a dead horse. Our bodies need time off in order to make important gains and improvements. Yes, you can actually improve by taking some time off!

Here is the Cross Training Plan that I recommend;

Right after the Performance Season is over, take at least 2 weeks off! Upon returning to class, this will give you a clear signal as to what “pains” are actual injuries and which were just symptoms of overuse. During that first class back (typically after a 2 to 6 week break) take note of certain areas and muscle groups in the body that feel weak. If you feel that you have a serious injury this is a great time to see a Doctor, get an MRI, and get it fixed in time for the season to start.

After taking note of those weak areas, consult a Ballet Strength Expert such as myself for Dance Specific exercises that you can do in the gym.  On Ballet Dancers, for example, the “turn-in” or legs in a parallel stance is usually weak. I would then recommend some basic strength training techniques involving one-leg squats and exercises on the Bosu. Dancers also tend to favor one side of the body. This is a great time to strengthen your weak side!

As far as taking class goes, I recommend no more than 3 days per week during your time off.  The other 2 days should be dedicated to your Cross Training program!

Feeling out of breath during that variation? Don’t forget about cardio. What better time than Summer to go for a run, hike, or bike ride in your favorite park. You may be surprised at how much better you feel and how much more you are able to do pain free!

How do I Cross Train? To ensure that my trouble areas stay injury free, I take class only twice per week during the off season and weight train three times per week. I also focus on keeping my core strong with lots of unique abdominal exercises. For Cardio, I do chasse’s on the treadmill, front and side!

Still confused? I have taken all of the guess work out of it with my new book, Beginning Ballet Strength©. You can get your own copy at www.balletstrength.com!

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer/ Certified Personal Trainer/ Author/ Certified Nutritionist

Ballet Summer Program 101

If you are like the majority of young ballet dancers right now, you are getting ready to go away for a summer program soon. You worked so hard to prepare for your auditions. You even got in to the summer program of your dreams, but the preparation doesn’t end there. You want to take as much away from that summer intensive as possible and come back a new and improved dancer in the fall! So what can you do to maximize your ballet summer intensive experience?

The following are the things that the best dancers do to maximize their summer intensive progress;

1.) Listen– I know that it may sound simple, but you must listen and absorb everything that the instructors are saying. Most ballet summer intensive programs have guest teachers like Gelsey Kirkland or David Howard who are fountains of knowledge and experience. You don’t want to miss a word that they are saying as one small correction could make a world of a difference in your dancing!

2.) Write it Down– I talk about the “dance journal” a lot in my previous posts and in my book, but I can’t stress enough just how important it is for you to write down all of your corrections. This is something that I did in my professional career as well as when I was a student. Years later you can look back at all of your corrections and see how much progress you have made.

3.) Focus– Let’s face it, your parents are paying all of this money for you to go away to a summer intensive for you to dance. They are not paying for you to go goof around or worse yet, get in trouble. Share experiences, have fun, and make friends with the fellow dancers but don’t let it get in the way of your education. Remember, you are there to dance!

4.) Embrace Change– Sometimes we go to a summer program and find that it’s not the perfect fit and we don’t like the technique or the teachers. In this case, do your best to stay positive and learn what you can from the experience. Sometimes it is beneficial to learn other styles or techniques to make you stronger in the technique that you do best. (example: classical dancer going to a Balanchine summer intensive)

Absorb everything you can from the new teachers you will be meeting and learning from this summer! Come back to your year round ballet school confident and as the best dancer that you can be. Keep these tips in mind as you head out to your ballet summer intensive!

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein Author/Professional Ballet Dancer/ Ballet Strength Coach

Summer Program Audition Tips

If you are like most young dancers,  you are gearing up for 2010 Summer Intensive Program Auditions. You have been taking class every day and working on the corrections that your ballet teachers are giving you. You have been putting 100% into every ballet class, but you still feel unprepared. Does this sound like you?

Here are a few simple tips to help with the success of your 2010 Summer Program Auditions;

1.) Smile- No auditioner wants to look at a dancer who doesn’t look like he/she is enjoying themselves. Don’t plaster a fake cheesy grin on, but do make sure to look pleasant. This is the time when you need to use your acting skills the most. Even if you mess up, keep that positive and confident mindset. If you can keep that attitude, your face will show it!

2.) Don’t sweat the small stuff- Be your best you. Don’t look around you and size up the competition…this will only discourage you and make you feel less confident. Instead focus on yourself and think about how well prepared you are! Again, your confidence in yourself will shine through to the auditioner!

3.) Everyone makes mistakes- Yes, it is true that no one will have a perfect audition. The difference is that the best dancers are the ones who don’t let the auditioner see the mistakes. Stay poised even if you mess up instead of frowning or making a face. The auditioner doesn’t want to watch a dancer who is hard on herself. Save that for the classroom.

4.) Make Eye Contact- Look them in the eye, I dare you to! Laugh at their jokes. It’s okay to be human and show emotion. In fact, this will make you more likeable to the teachers.

I hope that these simple tips help you go confidently into that Summer Program Audition! If you are interested in learning more in-depth tips that will get you noticed in auditions, be sure to check out my eBook, The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide. You can download it instantaneously right to your computer without having to wait to go to the book store!

Merde in your auditions!

Nikol Klein Professional Ballet Dancer/ Certified Personal Trainer & Nutritionist

P.S. You can purchase The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide HERE!

Performance Nervousness-Part 2

In the Wings

Now that you have identified the type of performance nervousness you are feeling from Part 1 of my Performance Nervousness series, it is time to come up with a solution. In the book I wrote, The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide, (www.balletaudition.com) I outline the types of techniques that can be used to get rid of Audition nerves. The same concepts can be applied to backstage nerves.

Here are some of the long-term things you can do prior to the show to ensure that you are feeling confident going into theatre week.

Set Goals- Write out your goals ahead of time, starting with your first rehearsal. If you set realistic performance goals and work on them throughout the weeks of rehearsals leading up to the show, you will feel more confident.

Mental Preparation- Mentally prepare yourself through imagery. This is something that I have gone into extensively in The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide. If you can visualize yourself performing a role perfectly, you can take that same feeling into the real performing situation.

Here are some of the short-term things that you can do to help with pre-performance butterflies.

Avoid Caffeine & Sugar- I remember sugaring up before shows when I was in school and it always turned out disastrous. Either you feel like you’re going to jump out of your skin while you’re onstage or your sugar high crashes right before the show and you are left feeling tired and lethargic.

Eat and Hydrate- No one performs at his or her best on an empty stomach. To ensure that you won’t energy bonk before the show, eat at least 1 hour prior to call. Sip on an electrolyte enhanced beverage throughout the day.

Listen to Music- Listening to your favorite tunes on your iPod before the show can have a huge calming effect on your nerves. Most Professional Dancers practice this technique pre-performance.

Warm-up- Warming-up before the show will give your body the peace of mind it needs to successfully execute choreographic demands.

Focus in the Wings- Think positive before you are about to make your stage entrance.

Breathe- Don’t forget to breathe and relax before going onstage. If you’re holding your breath, all of the movements that you have been working so hard on in rehearsal will feel lot harder and more taxing on the body.

Try some of these techniques before your Nutcracker performances this month! If you are looking for more techniques to try pre-performance, check out the eBook I wrote at www.balletaudition.com. The techniques outlined in that book aren’t just for auditioners!

Happy Dancing,

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer / Author

Performance Nervousness Part 1

 

Intermission-during one of my pre-performance rituals.

 

 

Through my extensive career as a professional dancer, I have observed some pretty strange pre-performance rituals. I have seen it all, and tried it all. So what works?

The truth is, not everyone is the same. There is no magic cure for nervousness, but there are things that you can do to calm yourself in the wings.

In Part 1 of Performance Nervousness, we will take the first step. Identifying the type of nervousness you are feeling.

Here are the categories of nervousness that I have defined through my years of dancing. See which category you best fit into or have felt in the past.

Prepared Nervousness– You feel well rehearsed, excited, pumped up. Maybe your family is out in the audience. You have a positive outlook on the upcoming performance.

Unprepared Nervousness– It feels like you are going into unfamiliar territory. You are doubtful, almost fearful. Maybe you were thrown into a role last-minute or were an understudy.

Combination of both– You are prepared but doubting yourself and your abilities. Even though you feel ready to perform a role, you are worried about uncontrollable factors.

Over-Prepared– You have rehearsed perfectly every day. Maybe you have even performed this role consecutive years. You are not nervous. After the performance you may even feel let down, although your performance went well.

Competitive Nervousness– You feel pressure. If you can perform well you will get a promotion. You want to outshine other dancers. Maybe your director or teacher watches the show from the wings.

Now that you have identified the type of nervousness you are feeling or have felt, we will move on to the solution. Stay posted for Part 2 of my Performance Nervousness series! As always your comments are greatly appreciated.

Stay tuned…

Nikol Klein, Professional Ballet Dancer/ Author