Dancers Wanted: Finding Professional Ballet & Dance Auditions

Day in and day out you take class, hear corrections, try to apply them, go to rehearsals, wear out practice clothes and shoes and basically invest countless hours and dollars into your dance education. What’s it all for? For some of you, it’s an excellent way to become physically proficient at a fun sport and art while developing a close group of friends. For others, it’s a stepping stone to your ultimate goal: a professional dance career.

For you special young vocational dancers, I thought you might like a heads up on one of the most vital and constant parts of a professional dancer’s life: Auditions! Auditions may be a part of your career for a very long time, if not all of it. It can be a constant struggle to keep on top of where they are, who’s holding them and what dancers are needed. So in addition to the RSS feeds (on the right) from Voice of Dance and Backstage, I have now added a special blogroll on the right-hand side of this site titled Auditions. Take a look by scrolling down and checking below the regular Blogroll.

On this list, you’ll see links to audition notices from all around the country and the world and links to official audition sites for major dance employers. It’s not all ballet – not every serious ballet dancer finds that there is a place for them or that they even want to be in ballet professionally – but there are plenty ballet auditions as well. I’ll post more in the future about how to enter the exciting but often seemingly scary world of professional dance and professional ballet. As a first step to great exposure in the dance industry, get to planning your SI auditions!

Update: Dance Magazine published a 2011 Jobs Guide in their March issue, and that link has been added to the Auditions list at right. Check it out for the latest company job openings!

Inspiration: Sarah Lane

Sarah Lane is one of my favorite dancers today. I had the pleasure of training at the Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program at the same time as Sarah in 2002, where her movement quality, pure line and effortless grace caught everyone’s attention. She had some of the most expansive movement, all placed on a lithe frame of only about 5’2″. Sarah was also as sweet and humble as they come, though she had plenty of bragging rights with a full scholarship to the program and a bronze medal from the Youth America Grand Prix.

Later that year, Sarah won the silver medal at the Jackson International Ballet Competition, the highest female junior medal awarded that year. In August 2003, she was accepted as an American Ballet Theatre apprentice. A promotion to corps de ballet followed in April 2004, and finally a promotion to soloist in 2007.

If you can’t make it to NYC to see Sarah perform, you can see her dancing as the body double for Natalie Portman in Black Swan. But don’t think Sarah was born with golden pointe shoes on – her early training was in a good quality but local-level school in Memphis, and when her training turned serious she sold telescopes at a Discovery Channel store to pay for her competition expenses!

Update: When I realized months back that some of my own students didn’t know that Lane performed the dancing shots for Black Swan, I explained that it was laughable to think that Portman could dance at that level. I didn’t think much of it, however, until reading this article and others about the lack of acknowledgement Lane received for her performance. (Even more forgotten than Lane, Kimberly Prosa assisted with some lighter dance scenes, and Maria Riccetto did the heavy lifting for Mila Kunis.) As a former dancer, I watched Black Swan in order to see Sarah dance. It didn’t really occur to me that no one else was envisioning Lane as they watched – a product of my own dancer tunnel vision. It was obvious to me when they shifted between the two, and I felt that Portman’s awkward beginner posture, paddle hands and sicked feet detracted from the film. Since she could not dance on pointe, however, these shots were few. I hope this unprofessional error will be corrected, but I would like to do my part to publicize Sarah’s superb performance.

Inspiration: Natalia Osipova

Happy New Year, dancers! You’ll be getting back to class soon and preparing for spring shows and recitals, so here’s some inspiration for your busy New Year. Remember that this year will be whatever you make of it!

Natalia Osipova graduated from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in 2004 and was given a position in the Bolshoi’s corp. While still a student, Natalia won the Grand Prix IBC in Luxemburg. As a young professional she was granted soloist roles from the start and won a bronze medal at the Moscow IBC at the end of her first pro year.

Noted for her exceptional allegro, Natalia was highly praised by critics for her attack and brilliance. She was becoming well-known while still just a member of the corps. Her steady ascent has been punctuated by prestigious awards and critically acclaimed debuts. Natalia was promoted to lead soloist in fall of 2008 and finally to principal in May of this year. Check out amazing action photos of Osipova and more inspiring details about her journey to stardom at her website.

2011 Summer Intensive Updates!

If you haven’t been regularly checking my recent post on the best SIs, click back over to look for newly added quality regional programs (at the bottom of the post) and additional updated info on individual programs.

Also, Pointe Magazine has posted online two good articles on preparing for this audition season. “Rejected” is one dancer’s story of turning a potentially crushing letter into a motivational tool, and “The August Advantage” is a look into summer intensive extension and add-on programs for advanced, vocational students.

Inspiration: Keenan Kampa

It’s impossible to not be inspired by Keenan Kampa. As the first American to graduate from the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Keenan, 21, has just accepted a position in the corps de ballet of Boston Ballet.

With long yet muscular limbs, Keenan has a natural facility for ballet. Born in Washington, D.C., Keenan studied at The Conservatory Ballet in Reston, VA, and then on scholarship with American Ballet Theatre JKO School in NYC. At 17, she reached the semi-finals at the Prix de Lausanne. She was soon thereafter spotted at a Russian Maryinsky master class and received an invitation to the Vaganova School. Her professional debut is widely anticipated, but you can check out her graduation performance, rehearsals and graduation exams now on her family’s youtube channel, kampagirls.

Ballet in Film: Masha, A Portrait of Maria Kochetkova

A new film is in the works documenting 2002 Prix de Lausanne winner Maria Kochetkova, now principal dancer with San Fransisco Ballet, in rehearsals and performances of a brand new ballet. Maria trained at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy for eight years before joining the Royal Ballet and then the English National Ballet. Kochetkova graced the cover of this year’s April/May Pointe Magazine and has been awarded four International Ballet Competition gold medals in addition to one silver, one bronze and the jury prize.

You can view her personal website here. Pre-ordering of her DVD will be available at http://kck.st/b5LxPL, but here’s the beautiful trailer in the meantime. Check out her exquisite port de bras!

Ballet in Print: Girl in Motion (with a sneak peek!)

Miriam Wenger-Landis, former professional dancer with Miami City Ballet, published a lovely novel this year for young dancers called Girl in Motion. This book chronicles the experiences of small-town girl Anna, a very talented young dancer who has been accepted to the year-round program at the fictional School of Ballet New York after attending their summer intensive.

Miriam Wenger-Landis trained at SAB as a young dancer and is able to use those experiences to write believably and compellingly about Anna’s world. Thanks to Dance Spirit Magazine, you can read two excerpts of Girl in Motion online – Part 1 was published on their site in September, and part 2 will be available next month!

Inspiration: Carla Körbes

Carla Körbes is a principal dancer with Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle. Carla was born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where she began her training with local teachers. Famed NYCB dancer Peter Boal encouraged her to go to the School of American Ballet after dancing with her at Ballet Vera Bublitz as a guest artist. Carla did so and for the 1997-1998 term was under the sponsorship of the legendary Alexandra Danilova.

Carla accepted an apprenticeship with NYCB in 1999, joined the corps de ballet in 2000 and was promoted to soloist in 2005.  Later that same year, she joined PNB as a soloist and was promoted to principal in 2006.

Carla has performed countless leading roles and received many high awards and honors. You might enjoy reading blog posts authored by Carla (at The Winger), which include loads of amazing photographs of her in rehearsal.

Inspiration: Kathryn Morgan

Young NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan hails from Fayetteville, North Carolina, and received her initial training from Mobile Ballet in Alabama, where she recently returned to perform as a guest artist. In 2004, Kathryn went to the legendary School of American Ballet, moving into an apprenticeship with NYCB in 2006 and a corps de ballet post in 2007. Her promotion to soloist happened just over a year ago, in October of 2009.

Kathryn, or “Katie”, is perhaps one of the company’s most charming ballerinas, and her quiet, radiant grace is apparent in every role. She has been featured by the New York Times, Dance Spirit and Pointe Magazine and guest-blogged for the latter. You’ll be truly inspired by the gorgeous photos on her website – it took me quite a while to decide which one was prettiest for this post!

UPDATE: Kathryn has a new website now, with a fabulous blog of her own. Check it out! It’s called IfThePointeShoeFits.

Inspiration: Sarah Van Patten

Sarah Van Patten has been a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet for three years and is an exceptional talent and an elegant ballerina with artistic sincerity.

Born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, Van Patten began her serious training at Boston Ballet School under Caroline Eaton, Jill Silverman and Kristen Beckwith and later trained under Jacqueline Cronsberg of Ballet Workshop of New England. She summered at the latter and also at SAB, Brianksy and Chautauqua.

Van Patten began her professional career as an apprentice at the age of 15 with the Royal Danish Ballet and was cast as the lead in Romeo & Juliet. A promotion to corps de ballet soon followed. In 2002, she moved to San Francisco Ballet to take a soloist position.

Check out Sarah Van Patten’s website and get inspired to reach for the stars in your next ballet class!

Ballet in Print: Cuban Ballet

In order to reach their full potential as artists, many Cuban ballet dancers leave their country to escape the complicated politics of Cuba. And that nation’s loss has become the world’s gain as pointed out by noted dance critic and this book’s author, Octavio Roca. Cuban Ballet explores this evolution and is gorgeously illustrated with both vibrant full-color and dramatic black and white photographs of current and former Cuban ballet dancers.

Cuban Ballet provides an exceptional portrait of Cuban ballet’s history, including stories of select Cuban ballet stars. This book also features a forward by Mikhail Baryshnikov and by Alicia Alonzo, who you might have guessed is one of the dancers featured most prominently. Released only last month, this exciting and beautiful new book is available at a significant discount through Amazon.

Blood, sweat & blisters (via Boys and Ballet)

Here’s a long but good article on an upcoming UK television documentary about the many and varied sacrifices of a few select UK ballet students.

Blood, sweat & blisters Striving to become the next Darcey Bussell or Wayne Sleep takes hours of dedication, determination – and heavy financial investment. Emily Woodrow speaks to five young Welsh dancers with a dream to succeed in the ballet world and discovers the major sacrifices that they and their families have made.   Western Mail Photographs by the BBC Aug 21 2010 IT takes hard work, determination and discipline to become a professional ballet dancer, not to men … Read More

via Boys and Ballet

Ballet in Film: The Corella Ballet Documentary

Ok, so if you were born after 1995, you might not have had the googly-eyes for Angel Corella during his tenure as a completely adorable principal dancer of ABT and Paloma Herrera’s often partner. But you can now if you watch him and his own ridiculously gorgeous company dancers in their fab new upcoming documentary!

This film is about Corella’s revival of ballet in his home country of Spain, which went without a major company for a long time until Corella decided recently to start his own, the Corella Ballet de Castilla y Leon. Thanks once again to DanceMedia, you can enjoy the preview trailer, which includes tantalizingly long snippets of company class, rehearsals and performances, including Corella himself dancing and teaching, during their preparation for my personal favorite ballet, La Bayadére. Try not to drool!

For those of you that reside down South here with moi, Corella Ballet will be performing in New Orleans on its 2011 tour, and you can check that out here.

Dance Unions & Contracts: Meet AGMA

AGMA is the American Guild of Musical Artists, and if you’re thinking of dancing professionally, you could one day be a member. AGMA is a union of professional performing artists, including musicians, opera singers and dancers. AGMA negotiates contracts with performing companies, administrates retirement funds, posts auditions and hosts a relief fund for members in need.

If you are interested in dancing professionally, you might like to check out this page to review AGMA union dance contracts of some major companies for the current and recent past few years.