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Navigating Ballet Auditions and Jobs in an Evolving, Competitive Job Market

Robert Fulton - June 26, 2023, 8:12 p.m.


Navigating Ballet Auditions and Jobs in an Evolving, Competitive Job Market

Ballet is more than just an art form - it's a way of life that dancers commit to from an early age. As these dancers evolve and mature, they often find themselves facing the realities of a highly competitive job market. The world of professional ballet is an arena teeming with talent, where passion, skill, perseverance, and a little bit of luck all play a role in shaping a dancer's career.  Dancers generally find themselves attending countless ballet auditions in hopes of landing a job.


A Highly Competitive Field

In recent years, the job market for ballet dancers has become even more competitive. With an increasing number of skilled dancers graduating from top-tier ballet schools worldwide, there are simply more dancers than there are jobs available. This is especially true for coveted positions in renowned ballet companies.  Just look at Pittsburgh Ballet’s open audition which had nearly 800 applicants for a handful of positions.


As dancers strive for these limited opportunities, it's crucial to remember that each ballet audition is not just a competition, but also an opportunity.  Dancers must bring their absolute best to every audition, embodying technical precision, artistic expression, physical fitness, and a compelling stage presence.  While you don’t have to be perfect in an audition, to get the ballet job, you must show a solid foundation and a strong potential for growth.  On the flip-side, an audition is also an opportunity for you to get to know the company.  If you are not a fan of the teacher or the class, it may not be for you!  Furthermore, attending more ballet auditions boosts your confidence and increases your chances of succeeding in the next one.


Factors Influencing Hiring in Ballet Companies

Several factors can influence a dancer's prospects in the job market:


Technique and Artistry: Above all else, ballet companies seek dancers who demonstrate excellent technique and unique artistry. While technical proficiency forms the foundation, a dancer's ability to express emotion and tell a story through movement is paramount.


Versatility: Companies often value dancers who are versatile and can perform in various styles. This flexibility allows companies to present a wider range of repertoire.  If you have skills in other styles, absolutely try to show them off.


Company Style: Each ballet company has its own unique style and aesthetic. Dancers who fit that aesthetic or style may have an advantage during auditions.  Some companies like their dancers to be more like models.  Some want super athletic dancers.  Some want super smart dancers.  Make sure to look at the repertoire and company roster to get a glimpse of their style.


Physicality: Ballet can place certain demands on a dancer's physique, and some companies may have specific requirements or preferences in terms of body type.  Some companies, like Ballet West, are notoriously tall.  Others may prefer shorter dancers.  A lot of it can also boil down to if they can make couples; there is a tall guy to match a tall girl.


Professionalism and Attitude: A positive attitude, strong work ethic, and professional demeanor can significantly impact a dancer's prospects. Companies appreciate dancers who are dedicated, reliable, and work well in a team.


Evolving Trends in the Job Market

The ballet job market, like the art form itself, is continuously evolving. Over the years, many factors have brought changes to the field:


Technical Prowess: Every generation is is better than the previous in terms of technique.  Just like in ice-scating where quads are now the standard, the *barre* for pointe dancers and flat dancers is being set to new heights.  This is being caused by an increase in cross-training and sports medicine as well as social media.  Dancers are able to absorb more information, get stronger, dance longer, and push their bodies harder than ever before.  Just don't forget about the artistry!  


Diversity and Inclusion: There's a growing push for diversity and inclusion in ballet, leading to more opportunities for dancers of various backgrounds. This shift is slowly but steadily changing the face of ballet, making it more representative of our diverse global community.


Gig Economy: Many dancers now work as freelancers or take on project-based roles. While this can offer more flexibility and variety, it also means less job security.  If you love the Nutcracker and can stomach 50 shows per season, ballet gig work may be for you!


Cross-Disciplinary Opportunities: As the line between ballet and contemporary dance blurs, many ballet dancers find opportunities in contemporary companies and commercial work, such as music videos, film, and television.


Digital Shift: With the digital revolution, online auditions and performances have become more commonplace, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This shift has expanded the reach of companies and dancers alike, changing the dynamics of auditions and performances.


While the ballet job market is competitive, understanding these influencing factors and market trends can better equip dancers for the challenges ahead. Remember, every dancer's journey is unique - it's about finding the path that allows your talent to shine the brightest. Even in a competitive landscape, there's room for passionate, hard working dancers to carve out a fulfilling career in the world of ballet.


Finding this information on Ballet Scout

You can find a lot of this information on Ballet Scout, too.  We try to gather the company size, the height requirements for the auditions, the styles, and more.  Explore our search filters under or, find a ballet audition on


Best of luck searching for ballet auditions, training, and jobs!