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Mastering High-Level Ballet Auditions: Stand Out and Succeed

Robert Fulton - Nov. 27, 2023, 12:13 a.m.

Aspiring ballet dancers know that landing a role in a prestigious company is a dream come true. However, the path to this dream requires high-level ballet auditions, a crucial gateway to ballet jobs and advanced ballet training. Understanding what to expect and how to excel in these auditions can set you apart. Here’s a guide to help you navigate these auditions with confidence and skill.

Understanding the Types of Company Auditions

There are primarily two types of company auditions: open calls and class invitations. An open call may involve a large number of auditioners and typically includes a ballet class, possibly followed by cuts, then variations or repertoire sections where you learn company choreography. These auditions can be unpredictable, so it’s wise not to solely rely on them.  Sometimes these auditions require a video pre-screening process, so always have your video on-hand!

A class invitation, on the other hand, offers a more intimate setting. You might be asked to take a class with the company, perform for the director, or even attend a rehearsal. This is not just an audition but an opportunity to gauge the company's environment and whether it aligns with your aspirations.  To get an in-class audition it is best to apply with the video first.  You will then be invited by the director to come take class.

Standing Out in Auditions

Musicality and Maturity In auditions, musicality is key. Playing with the music while maintaining timing demonstrates maturity and an understanding of rhythm. Our director loves to talk about the 3 parts to every beat: &1, 1, 1&.  If you are on your leg, consider holding a balance to the “1&” then quickly moving on to the next step. Always finish your movements in sync with the music, showcasing your artistic maturity.

Details and Dynamics It’s the finer details and dynamics that often catch a director's eye. Pay attention to the textures and nuances in choreography, even in simple movements like tendus. Emphasize the accents correctly to show that you understand and value every aspect of the dance.  This is especially important for video auditions, because the directors will likely skim through or just watch plies & tendus.  I know several directors who claim that they can tell just from those first two combinations.

Stylization and Personality Once you're comfortable with the choreography, infuse it with your unique flair. Dance is a balance between adhering to the choreographer’s vision and injecting your own artistic interpretation. Display your individuality and how you can bring choreography to life.  

Playing to Your Strengths Identify your strengths - be it turns, jumps, extensions, or expressiveness - and highlight these during the audition. Position yourself strategically for combinations where you can truly shine.  This is also important in video auditions.  Edwaard Liang, Artistic Director of Ballet Met & soon to be Artistic Director of Washington Ballet says "I think that a smart dancer is more important than anything else. Just like models, they need to know what their best angles are.  If you can work a camera lens, chances are you can do it for an audience."

Adapting Quickly and Taking Corrections View corrections as opportunities. Directors observe how you respond to feedback, as it indicates how you might adapt within the company. Apply corrections promptly and show your ability to evolve and improve throughout the audition.

In conclusion, high-level ballet auditions are your moment to shine. By understanding the process, showcasing your musicality, paying attention to details, personalizing your performance, leveraging your strengths, and gracefully accepting corrections, you can make a lasting impression. At BalletScout, we’re committed to helping you prepare for these moments, offering resources for ballet auditions, training, and jobs. Remember, each audition is a stepping stone in your ballet journey. Embrace it with confidence and let your talent do the talking!