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Summer Series: From Ballet to Commercial Dance. Get to know Anthony Cannarella

Robert Fulton - July 12, 2023, 12:16 a.m.

Summer Series: Candid Conversations with the Pros 

Get to know Professional Freelance Artist

Anthony Cannarella

Anthony Cannarella was born and raised in Madison, WI, training at the Monona Academy of Dance and the Rock School in Philadelphia. A former company artist with Sacramento Ballet, Anthony has danced in numerous featured roles, including Ron Cunningham’s Peter Pan (Peter Pan), Stephen Mills’ Hamlet (Hamlet), and George Balanchine’s Tarantella. He has also performed with Smuin Contemporary Ballet and toured with Amy Seiwert's Imagery to The Joyce Theater and Jacob's Pillow. Anthony's recent highlights include working with Jessica Lang in LA Opera's Aida, dancing with Olivia Rodrigo in her SOUR Prom music video, and performing in Young Frankenstein at Ogunquit Playhouse. Anthony also greatly enjoys choreographing and has created new works for Sacramento Ballet, Capital Dance Project, and Ballet Project OC.

You recently transitioned to becoming a freelance artist after being in a professional company for many years. What is one of your favorite parts of this new transition?

"My favorite part about freelancing is the variety of work you get to do. I’ve been fortunate to work on musicals, music videos, acting and modeling jobs, and even an opera. All while continuing to do pickup work with different ballet companies, including Smuin Contemporary Ballet, Ballet Project OC, and Ballet RED to name a few. Performing is what I love to do most, and freelancing has allowed me to hit the stage more frequently and in many different ways."

Freelancing can seem daunting, particularly having to find gigs consistently. Have you encountered this scenario? How do you find upcoming opportunities?

“Finding work is definitely the hardest part of freelancing. But having a dance agent can be a huge help! Agents can book you for jobs without you having to audition and can send you calls that aren’t made public. However, it’s still important to find your own work. Building relationships with other dancers and choreographers is key!"

Besides ballet, what other traits have you focused on to expand your freelance resume?

“The more dance styles you can do, the more jobs you can confidently audition for! Versatility is important, but pushing yourself to learn commercial dance/hip-hop can make you more marketable as well. Besides that, time really is money in the commercial world, so being able to pick up choreography quickly is a huge asset! Once I had to learn a dance from 3-4 PM, and then perform it that same night at 3 AM!“

At The Ballet Scout, we want dancers of all backgrounds to pursue their dreams regardless of their age, level or physical ability. What is a piece of advice you would go back and give yourself when you first started auditioning (whether it be for companies, schools, or summer intensives)?

“If I could tell myself something when I started auditioning, it’s that luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Meaning that jobs present themselves when you’re your confident self and the timing is just right! Maybe a company just lost a guy and needs another. Maybe a company is doing a bigger rep this season and needs to hire more dancers. And when those instances happen, you’re prepared and ready :) So don’t take rejection too seriously, And use it to inspire you keep working!"