Get a Job: Marketing Yourself to Dance Companies

When you’re a dancer, sweet sixteen isn’t just a birthday milestone, it’s the age you start thinking of how to begin your career. You’re two years from high school graduation, even less if you’ve sped up your courses. At sixteen, you might even start flying out to company auditions to gain experience and get seen by artistic directors.

It can be pretty intimidating to get started though – How do you make a dance resume? How do you find ballet companies where you might be a fit and stand the best chance of getting a contract? How can you put together an awesome audition package with sophisticated videos and photographs that will really help get you a job?

Rachel Neville, author of the popular and thoughtfully made Leotard Buying Guide, is here to help with these questions. A former dancer, Rachel is now a well-known dance and movement photographer in NYC. She’s going above and beyond to create free resources for dancers crossing this point in their careers. In her latest effort, Rachel talks candidly about a each step in the process from researching companies to ensuring you are presenting yourself in the most effective way possible. Subscribe to Rachel’s blog to be notified of new videos as they are published, and check out the latest edition below.

Advertisements

Great FREE Webinar for Dancers!

Photo by Brian MenginiDancers, don’t miss an opportunity like this one. Boston Ballet’s lovely Shelby Elsbree joins dedicated Health Coach Jessica Spinner from The Whole Dancer for a pre-Nutcracker gear-up for professional dancers and serious students.

This online seminar will take place November 19, 2015, at 5pm PST / 7pm CST / 8pm EST – but even if you can’t make it, you’ll still get a copy of the webinar if you sign up!

Learn about mitigating seasonal colds, improving self-care, creating dance/life balance and ensuring you have the right fuel intake for your demanding schedule. Join live or watch it later at your convenience, just don’t miss it!

Support BalletScoop’s Image Dancer & Anastasis Ballet Company!

Anastasis BalletKickstarters are the ideal way to show your support (or not!) for the arts today.  The US is not known for it’s excellent government arts programs. Despite what some folks think, we don’t compare to Europe’s contributions, leaving the burden to you and I if we truly want to see great companies producing great programs! Today, I backed Anastasis Ballet Company, a polished group of classically trained dancers (including the official BalletScoop image dancer Lindsey Salvadalena!) performing classical and contemporary ballet on the westcoast, for their project PRISM, bringing exciting and entertaining new choreography to their arts community.

If you are a dancer or dance enthusiast, SUPPORT THE ARTS TODAY! I don’t care if it’s Anastasis or NYCB  – well, maybe I care a little 😉 –  just please don’t forget that without financial support, good quality art in the US will go extinct. That means fewer or even no jobs for all the dancers reading this blog today. Since the 2008 recession, I have been witness to too many incredibly talented dancers never showing their talent to the world because there simply were no jobs. We can’t let that happen! I’m starting to see that turn around, so let’s keep it going: Back projects, go to performances, and put your money and time where your mouth is so we can continue to enjoy our amazing artists of today. See you at the theatre!

Lindsey Fitzmorris, 2010

Auditions for Paid Studio Company Positions with Gelsey Kirkland!

Dale-Image-15The Gelsey Kirkland Ballet, studio company for the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet, is holding auditions this weekend for paid positions. Attendees will also be considered for the year-round professional and pre-professional training school. This is a must-go audition!

Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Studio Company is under the artistic leadership of Gelsey Kirkland and Michael Chernov, whose vision is to maintain an ensemble company capable of realizing diverse and compelling theatrical ideas through specialized, comprehensive training and direction. Contracts are typically 32 weeks.

Gelsey Kirkland Ballet

The Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet is proud to announce that we will be holding an audition for our PAID Male & Female Studio Company positions and our year round professional and pre-professional academy programs.

When:
Saturday, August 17th at 12:00pm

Where:
Gelsey Kirkland Academy
355 Broadway, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10013
(212) 600-0047

What To Bring:
Please bring proper audition attire, pointe shoes, and an 8×10 headshot along with an action shot in arabesque. $35.00 Audition Fee. DVD auditions are accepted.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet at (212) 600-0047 or by email: misha AT gelseykirklandballet DOT org

Ballet in Print: So, You Want to Be a Ballet Dancer?

KronenbergBookIt is all too rare for an experienced professional dancer to provide career guidance to students. The average professional dancer’s hectic schedule, necessity to focus on oneself, or lack of interest in reaching out to aspiring professionals in order to stave off competition all may play a part in that. Even from those who share their knowledge through teaching, there is typically a lack of basic insight on the professional ballet experience that is provided to their students.

Fortunately for us, Miami City Ballet principal dancer Jennifer Kronenberg is not your average professional dancer. Gifted not only in dancing but also writing, Ms. Kronenberg has openly shared her perspective on professional ballet, the story of her rise to ballet fame, and insights on how to prepare in her recent book, So, You Want to Be a Ballet  Dancer? – not to be confused with the revered Thalia Mara’s book from 1959 of the same title, sans punctuation.

A small, pocket-sized read, So, You Want to Be a Ballet Dancer? is divided into 20 easily digestible chapters that focus progressively on essential knowledge relevant immediately prior to and at the start of a ballet career. Early training is also covered briefly along with longer-term concerns such as retirement savings and dancers’ frequent periods of unemployment. QR codes and urls cap off many topics with videos of Ms. Kronenberg’s colleagues addressing the issues in more detail or from another perspective. Ms. Kronenberg has no illusions on the limitations of her personal perspective and consults colleagues and other professionals as contributors when necessary, for instance in the chapter on men in ballet.

This is one of the most useful books about professional ballet in publication at the moment, littered as the market is with books focused more on the basics of instruction and getting started with beginner training or beginner pointework. I held off on posting about this book while it was in e-reader form only, but it has recently been published in hard copy. Go buy it today! I found one at BN yesterday and it’s up on Amazon as well. (Now, for a book focused on men’s ballet! Maybe something that expands on this.) Enjoy!

Selecting Your Summer Intensive Auditions

I’m so pleased to see how many dancers are making use of the BalletScoop list of  2013 Summer Intensives! Let’s talk about how to select auditions. I advise auditioning for as many programs as you can without exhausting yourself or negatively impacting your schoolwork, but it helps to have a basic idea of what you want early on.

So before you get overwhelmed by the 300+ program options, take a moment to consider what you envision for yourself for summer training. What are you trying to achieve in the next few years? Are you leaving home for the first time and simply focus on improving your technique? Do you need to look for work or get exposure to artistic directors? Will you be pursuing college? You maybe best served by a particular type of program, and each type offers various features.

Conservatories (generally):

  • are not attached to companies, but may have indirect connections
  • provide the smallest class sizes
  • offer heavy supervision
  • take a focused and nurturing approach
  • are well suited for younger dancers and first-time SI students
  • may serve as an audition for the year-round residential program

Company schools (usually):

  • are directly connected (or in some way affiliated) with a professional performing company
  • offer flexible supervision with expectations of somewhat mature level of personal responsibility
  • may have large class sizes
  • are particularly well-suited to older dancers and those preparing to try for professional work in the next two years
  • may serve as an audition to the trainee program, second company or apprenticeship program

University programs:

  • are run by college dance departments
  • may offer scholarships or tuition credit to the university for summer attendees
  • have a wide range of class size, instruction quality, supervision and intensity depending on the quality of the dance department
  • are ideal for younger and older dancers intending to attend college after high school

Regulatory institutions:

  • Have self-governing authority over a particular style of ballet technique
  • Offer certification to students and teachers after completion of a course and examination
  • Are well-suited to dancers pursuing professional performance or teaching careers

Stand-alone programs:

  • Are sometimes affiliated with a festival, competition or convention
  • Often bring together a hodge-podge of famous dance faculty
  • May offer opportunities to see professional performances as part of the program

Exceptions to these exist. For example Ballet West’s program is the official summer program of both the professional company and the University of Utah. And some company programs make a concerted effort to provide a highly nurturing, conservatory environment to better accommodate very young dancers.

Once you have this choice in mind, you can filter the list to show only the type of programs that suit your immediate goals. This will narrow the list considerably. After that, it’s time to the click links provided and research the websites to discover other details like:

  • courses and dance styles offered
  • tentative schedules/hours per week
  • housing and board options
  • tuition costs and scholarship availability
  • in-house faculty and guest teachers
  • session lengths and date flexibility options
  • eligibility requirements beyond age

Note that consecutive sessions are only listed separately when there is a material difference in their purpose. So for example, ABT summer sessions are listed separately because of their different locations and age requirements, while Indiana University’s program is listed as one contiguous event even though they technically have two identical programs back to back. Be sure to look for programs that are extra early or extra late — you may be able to attend 2-3 full programs if you plan wisely!

Now that you have your short list, get movin! If you can’t attend all of the live auditions you need, a DVD audition is your next best option and the time to start making it is now. Once you have audition and received your acceptance, wait-list, or rejection letters, visit Choosing Your SI to help make your final decisions.