You have successfully auditioned and booked your first professional dancing job! Whilst this is hugely exciting and a great achievement, don’t make first-time mistakes that could reflect negatively on you as a professional dancer… Some mistakes are common, some you only learn once you have been there and have done that.
Before you start the job, receive your contract or agreement terms in writing from your employer. In your eagerness and excitement this may not be the first thing you think of, but having this in a hard format protects both you and your employer. Whether you are a freelancer or a full-time company dancer, read through your contract thoroughly.
Of course you will want to bound into the studio on your first day of rehearsals, but be wary of being over eager. In your aim to please everyone don’t let yourself be taken advantage of – taking on too much could be detrimental to your dancing. Don’t nab the first spot at the barre or place in the room you set your sights on either. Existing dancers in the company or on the job may have already claimed these – dancers are very territorial! – and you don’t want to start with rubbing another dancer up the wrong way.
Anticipate everything you will need when you start your new job, especially food and drink to fuel you through the long, intense days. When you are rehearsing there is often no telling how long the day will go on for so stock your dance bag with plenty of high-energy, nutritious snacks. Make sure you have spare everything, and also be prepared for injuries – they can affect anyone and everyone.
And remember… muscles don’t like having to go from cold to dancing full out, even when you are excited about starting!
Making the transition from student to professional is a hazy one – dancers can gain employment whilst in full-time training and there are factors that can help navigate the transition. Aside from having talent and passion, dancers need to be self-motivated, persistent and professional. It’s also much easier to survive if you are liked by your peers and professionals, and have a reputation of working hard and making the most of every opportunity.
It is important to remain motivated and take class, to keep up to date in the industry and with the new faces. Work may not come along for a while, but it’s important to keep your face out there and remind teachers, agents and other dancers that you are there. Dancers may also need to take on other forms of casual employment to pay the bills. For many, this means teaching or waiting tables; whatever it is, having the flexibility to get to classes and auditions is essential so that you can be as fit and ready for work as possible.
Finding an agent is a high priority for graduates as there are many jobs that only agents hear about and because they can negotiate agreements. Some agents attract a variety of work and others specialise in one or two areas, so make sure they have a reputation for getting the type of work you’re interested in. It may be that you cannot find an agent until you have some experience, so remember that there are still open calls, particularly for jobs such as theme parks, cruise ships, and other shows.
Auditions are a big part of a dancer’s life so it’s vital to cultivate a positive attitude and develop a thick skin. Keep in mind that each audition you attend is an opportunity to show what you can do, whether or not you get the job. If you aren’t right for the job this time, make sure you impress someone enough for a job in the future. Always ask yourself what you can improve on from the experience that will help you get closer to getting the job next time.
Auditions are a huge part of any dancers life: some dancers revel in auditions with the chance to perform in a more informal environment, others speak of auditions with dread and worry. Whatever your view of auditions, there are a few key points to help you along the way, especially when preparing your dance piece for the big day.
When selecting the pieces you will perform at an audition, you must ensure that you are well prepared. Check dance audition guidelines as there may be specific points to consider. The guidelines will be provided by the production, company or school you are auditioning for, and may make the difference between a cut and a part. Another essential part of auditions is the ability to follow instructions!
If you are not sure about any part of the upcoming audition, seek the advice of the dance teacher who is currently educating you. Your dance teacher will be able to give you guidance based on your genre and your audition, with help in areas such as content, preparation and presentation. They may also help you prepare extra choreography for your audition, just in case you are required to present more pieces.
The piece you select to present should then be well rehearsed so you can perform it well, whilst remaining relaxed and expressive that enables you to dance to your best ability. Choose something that reflects your personality and ability, with music and movement that engage and interests.
Take copies of everything you need to the audition, such as any sheet music, recorded music, attire, dance shoes or simple costume/prop pieces you may need for your pieces as well as for an additional piece if requested.
Northern Ballet has announced plans to take its Academy Open Days on the road to Hull, Doncaster and Harrogate in early 2014 in a bid to find Yorkshire’s most promising young dance talent. The open days are a chance for 9–12 year olds, with and without dance experience, to find out more about the training programmes, technique and auditions.
The free Open Days will take place at Hull College (19 January), Cast in Doncaster (26 January) and Harrogate’s Ashville College (2 February). The Academy of Northern Ballet will also host an Open Day at its home in Leeds on Sunday 16 February for prospective students aged 9–15 years, including a dedicated session for boys. Following the open days, preliminary auditions for all courses will take place on Friday 28 February and Sunday 2 March. Applications should be submitted by Thursday 20 February.
The Academy of Northern Ballet is the official school of Leeds-based Northern Ballet, and specialises in offering a holistic approach to teaching, nurturing and inspiring the professional dancers of the future. As the only recognised Centre for Advanced Training (CAT) in the UK specialising in Classical Ballet, Northern Ballet Academy is hosting Open Days to entice young dancers from across Yorkshire to audition for its professional CAT training programme which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2014. Graduates from Northern Ballet’s CAT programme have gone on to full-time vocational training at top training schools including the Royal Ballet Upper School, English National Ballet School and Central School of Ballet.
Students benefit from teaching methods developed by Northern Ballet’s renowned Ballet Mistress which focuses on developing technique and ensuring that students have the solid foundation required to build a long and rewarding career in dance. The organisation is committed to nurturing the physical and emotional wellbeing of each student in an atmosphere that centres on individual learning and professionalism.