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The Trainee Program Audition Process: Insights for Aspiring Dancers and Their Parents

Robert Fulton - Jan. 1, 2024, 9:45 p.m.

For parents of high school senior dancers contemplating the next steps in their ballet career, the decision between college and diving straight into a trainee program can be daunting. To help guide you through this critical phase, we've gathered valuable insights from various experts within the ballet community, focusing on auditioning for trainee programs.

Understanding the Audition Process

The first concern often revolves around the audition process for trainee positions. Many companies use their Summer Intensives (SIs) as a stepping stone to trainee placements, but this approach may not offer immediate certainty. It's advisable to audition for programs that offer direct admission from the initial audition. This strategy allows dancers to secure a spot and then attend an SI as a backup, with the option to switch if a more desirable opportunity arises.

Ballet Scout offers a solution to this challenge. Dancers can use the platform to filter for SI auditions that simultaneously consider candidates for trainee positions. This feature enables dancers to focus on opportunities that provide clarity right from the start.

Evaluating the Trainee Program Options

When considering post-grad programs, it's crucial to recognize that each program varies. Some dancers progress from part-time to full-time trainee, then to second company positions. Research each program to understand its structure and progression opportunities.

For those seeking trainee positions before summer, many programs offer early admissions. For instance, Charlotte Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Ballet Austin, and Joffrey Chicago are known to admit trainees before the summer. Additionally, programs like Tulsa Ballet invite trainee finalists to a special spring weekend, providing responses before summer.

Advice for Dancers and Parents

  1. Cast a Wide Net: Encourage your dancer to audition for multiple programs and send out prescreen materials. This approach increases the chances of receiving offers without the requirement to attend summer programs.

  2. Look for Early Signs of Interest: Gauge the level of interest from a program. Scholarships, personal communication, and encouragement from the company's Artistic Director are strong indicators.

  3. Have a Backup Plan: Ensure you have alternatives in case your first choice doesn't pan out. This might mean paying a deposit for another program, considering a post-grad year at your current school, or being prepared to send out audition videos to late-accepting programs.

  4. Consider Online College Options: If your dancer is set on a ballet career but also wants to pursue academic education, online college courses can be a flexible solution alongside a trainee program.

  5. Trust Your Dancer’s Passion: An honest conversation about your dancer's commitment to ballet is crucial. If they are entirely sure about a career in ballet and less concerned about the traditional college experience, a trainee position may be the most fitting choice.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right path in ballet is a personal journey that requires careful consideration and planning. Utilize platforms like Ballet Scout to streamline the audition process and stay informed about the various trainee programs available. Most importantly, support your dancer in making a choice that aligns with their aspirations and commitment to ballet.


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