Blog Archives

Getting into a Ballet Company

What does it take to get into a ballet company? Many of you may be asking yourself this very question right now as you embark upon a summer intensive program in hopes of being accepted into the company or trainee program for the 2013/2014 season. Let’s face it, you have competition and while summer intensives are for learning, they are also a great test of your fight – will you stand out and impress or try your hand in the back of the room?

It comes down to two things from what I have seen and experienced – Are you technically sound or are you a one trick pony? Let me explain. While every company is different in terms of style, there are a few truths that you just can’t ignore. There are those who can developé their leg past their ear, those who are barre technicians, those who have feet so arched that they can’t actually stand up in center, and then there are those who are balanced. Where do you want to be?

You know the answer – You want to be a balanced, well rounded dancer. Ballet company’s are not looking for acrobats nor are they looking for feet so arched that they are dangerous. They want dancers who have a strong base, are easy to work with, will not get injured at the first opportunity that comes their way, and who have a good work ethic. They are looking for strong technique and the ability to perform well when it counts.

Directors want to be able to use their dancers in multiple ways and they need versatile dancers to keep up with the demands of contemporary choreography. Chances are, your friend who has gotten this far only because she is good at adagio will be skimmed over for someone with a little more usefulness. The same also goes for the lazy but talented dancer who’s heart just isn’t in it.

Showcase your strengths, but show that you are willing to work hard in all areas of dance, try new things, and do it with an open mind. Afterall, if you are chosen to represent the company as a dancer, apprentice, or trainee the director wants to know that you will be likeable and can take correction and direction well.

This summer “trial run” for a position in the company next year is a test to see what your work ethic is like. Will you work your way to the front of the room and present yourself as the next company dancer?

Ballet Auditions – What to Wear

When it comes to auditioning for summer ballet intensives or ballet companies, the first impression is everything. Artistic Directors and ballet instructors are looking for dancers who look cleanly and neatly put together. They look for someone who catches their eye, but not in an “in your face” way. That’s why you want to make sure you look your best. Here are a few tips to help you look your best in summer intensive and ballet company auditions.

1.) Ditch the warm-ups. Unless you are injured, or want the director to think that you are injured, do not wear warm-ups in an audition. Even worse, you could give them the impression that you are hiding something. If you arrive early enough to the audition registration, you should have plenty of time to warm-up while you are waiting for your audition to begin. As soon as you enter the audition room, all warm-up attire should be off.

What not to wear- Are you going to a ballet audition or the gym?

2.) Wear an appropriate leotard. You are better off to pick a simple leotard in a style and color that flatter your body and show it in the best possible light. Many custom leotards from companies such as Yumiko may be beautiful but come off as too complicated and will distract the Artistic Director or teacher from your dancing. Also stay away from strappy back leotards or anything that cuts your back in half. School and company directors are looking for lines and I’m not talking about the ones sewn onto your leotard!

3.) Make sure it fits. The last thing you want to be worried about in an audition is your leotard falling off or riding up in the wrong places. Test out the leotard you plan on wearing to your next audition in class to make sure it is comfortable. Fidgeting will also distract both the director and yourself from the dancing.

A classic Mirella leotard in a flattering color is always best.

4.) Steer clear of bright colors but don’t wear black. Nothing will drive a director crazy like a fluorescent, striped or patterned leotard. Stick with solid colors that flatter your hair and skin tone. The only illusions being created should be through your dancing, not your outfit 😉

5.) Confidence. Nothing looks better than confidence. Wear it proudly and you will succeed!

I hope that these tips help you out in your upcoming summer intensive and ballet company auditions. If you need more advice about what to wear, how to fix your hair, and what is the best makeup, I have dedicated an eBook called The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide to answering these questions and tons more.

 

Choosing the Right Ballet Auditions

Now that Nutcracker season is over and it’s the New Year, chances are, you are gearing up for your ballet summer intensive auditions. With summer intensive auditions, there can be hundreds of different schools to choose from. How do you know which schools are right for you?

Make sure you start doing the research before the audition to make sure you don’t waste your time, energy, and your parent’s money. If you live in a city such as New York or San Francisco, where pretty much every Summer Intensive holds an audition, I recommend going to as many auditions as possible for experience. If you don’t live in a city where schools typically hold auditions, you will have to travel, which is something you and your family may need to discuss and take into consideration.

What style are you trained in? While it is always fun to attend a school that trains dancers in a different style than you, you want to make sure that style suits you. School of American Ballet, for example, typically looks for dancers who are trained in the Balanchine technique whereas a school like the Kirov looks for a Russian trained dancer.

Remember, your ultimate goal is to be accepted into a professional company, right? So this means you want to choose which summer intensive you attend wisely once you are accepted.

Also consider your family’s budget should you get accepted into the school. Does the summer intensive offer scholarships?

For your first summer intensive program, I recommend going to a school that isn’t too far away from home. When I went to my first summer school, Chautauqua, at age 11, I was very homesick. Luckily my family was only a few hours drive away and came up to visit me on the weekends.

As you get older, you want to look for summer intensives that have schools which feed into a professional company. The last summer program that I attended, for example, was Ballet Austin where I was offered a professional contract prior to the programs end.

Be a smart auditioner and you have the potential to get in to the summer intensive of your dreams…and possibly the professional ballet company in the future!

For more audition tips be sure to check out Nikol’s book, The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide at www.balletaudition.com.

Arabesque Audition Photo Advice

My last ballet audition preparation blog was all about headshot photos. In addition to needing a headshot to audition for most schools and companies, you will also need a photo in arabesque. In this article I am going to guide you through tips to getting the perfect arabesque audition photo.

My Company audition arabesque shot. It helped get me lots of offers!

Tip #1: Presentation is Everything – Choose the leotard that is simple and flatters your body shape the most. Keep in mind that this may not be the latest new leotard from Discount Dance…It could be a simple camisole Mirella or Natalie. Steer clear of custom leotards with anything mesh, criss-cross, or high neck (the auditioner wants to see your body). Also do your best version of a high bun as this will also elongate your neck. Try your bun right at the crown of your head.

Tip #2: Practice – Practice your posing in first arabesque after class or rehearsal in front of the mirror. Practice balancing in this position. You will need lots of balance come photo snap shot time!

Tip# 3: Hire a Professional Photographer – Although Mom & Dad can also capture some fabulous arabesque snap shots on a budget, your best bet for a professional looking audition photo is to hire a photographer. In fact, auditioners tend to overlook candid audition photos, especially those done without a backdrop.

If only we were all fortunate enough to have this arabesque!

Tip #4 – Use the Barre – A great way to train your lower back to hold a high arabesque is to practice with the barre. Place your leg in arabesque on the barre, go onto pointe, lift your leg off of the barre, then let go and put your arms in first arabesque! See how long you can hold this position. You’ve got to train that muscle memory if you want to capture a perfectly balanced arabesque photo!

Tip # 5 – Smile – A mistake that a lot of dancers do is have a serious or stern look in their photos. Smile, don’t look tense. I know that holding that perfectly placed arabesque is a lot of work, but make it look effortless. Remember ballet is all about illusions and the auditioner will be able to tell if you are tensing or if arabesque is an unnatural position for you.

Tip # 6 – Relax your Shoulders – Nothing says uncomfortable like tense shoulders, neck and fingers. Try to breathe and relax your upper body to release any tension that may convert into your photo.

Tip #7 – 90 Degrees, Please – Auditioners are going to be looking for at least a ninety degree arabesque so be sure to be thinking about your arabesque height in class to maximize your audition potential. Try the leg on the barre stretch or the exercise that I describe in Tip # 2 if you feel like your arabesque needs to improve. Back flexibility will help the height of your leg.

I hope that these tips will help you be on your way to a gorgeous arabesque audition photo. Also, if you’re nervous about auditions or simply looking for some advice you can read my Ballet Audition Preparation Guide. This will help you not only prepare for auditions, but also let you know what to expect inside the audition room. Merde!