Dance Auditions Guide
Whether you're a bunhead or a hip-hopper, our guide has just the audition for you.
Avant Chamber Ballet is seeking classically trained men and women for the 2019-2020 season in Dallas TX.
ACB repertoire includes classical to contemporary works with a contract from late Sept to late April. Dancers are paid weekly based on experience. Training in the Balanchine technique is a plus.
Please bring your resume, headshot, and full-body dance photo. Women will need pointe shoes. Cost is $30.
March 9th, 1-3pm. Registration starts at 12:30pm.
Lou Conte Dance Studio
Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
1147 West Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60607
March 17th, 1-3pm. Registration starts at 12:30pm.
Park Cities Studios
7979 Inwood Rd
Dallas, TX 75209
NEW YORK CITY:
March 24th, 1-3pm. Registration starts at 12:30pm.
The Ailey Studios
The Joan Weill Center for Dance
405 West 55th Street at 9th Avenue
New York, New York 10019
For more information, email email@example.com
Ballet San Antonio is a professional ballet company with 23 dancers including apprentices, corps de ballet, soloists, and principal dancers.
HOW TO APPLY
Auditions are by invitation only. If you would like to audition, please submit the requirement to firstname.lastname@example.org. Audition materials cannot be returned.
VIDEO SUBMISSION DEADLINE: February 1, 2019
RESULTS ANNOUNCEMENT: February 8, 2019
Must be 18 or older (18+ for Corps and up/17+ for Apprentices)
Resume or CV
3-5 minute video | Performance footage (one classical and one contemporary) or center work only
Send via email with link to You Tube or Vimeo
If available, send an excerpt of a recent performance filmed within the last 3 months. If this is not a solo work, be sure to clearly indicate which one of the dancers is you. If older performance clips are included, please note the month and year.
Two-three full-body dance photos and a headshot
If selected, please see the audition times below.
AUDITION DATE: March 9 and 10, 2019
REGISTRATION: 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
AUDITION TIME: 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
LOCATION: Mexican Cultural Institute, 600 Hemisfair Plaza Way, San Antonio, TX 78205
REGISTRATION FEE: $25.00 due at check-in
Indianapolis Ballet 2019/20 Season - Company & Apprentice Auditions
On the heels of its historic debut year of programming and performances, Indianapolis Ballet is seeking experienced dancers for the professional resident company's 2019/20 Season (August 2019 through May 2020). Acceptance to the Indianapolis Ballet professional company is by audition only. Candidates for the professional company must have at least three years of professional dance experience, and training in the Balanchine technique is a plus.The audition will consist of a full ballet class and repertoire. Please prepare a classical variation, contemporary work, and provide music on CD format. (Variation/solo not to exceed 3 minutes each). An audition fee of $25 must be paid online during pre-registration or upon arrival at the audition. Active members of AGMA will have their registration fee waived (must provide proof of membership at on-site registration).See below for audition dates currently on our calendar; video submissions will also be accepted … visit www.indyballet.org/auditions for full details and to pre-register.Chicago, Ill. | Sunday, February 3
- Ballet Chicago | 17 N. State Street, 19th floor in downtown Chicago
- Registration at 1:30 p.m. CT, followed by class from 2:00-4:00 p.m. CT
Indianapolis, Ind. | Sunday, February 24
- Indianapolis Ballet | 502 N. Capitol Ave., Suite B (2nd floor) in downtown Indy
- Registration at 2:30 p.m., followed by class from 3:30-6:30 p.m.
New York City, N.Y. | Sunday, March 3
- The School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts | 70 Lincoln Center Plaza in Manhattan
- Registration at 4:00 p.m., followed by class from 4:30-7:00 p.m.
2019-20 AUDITION INFORMATION
Ballet Memphis will hold national auditions on March 16, 2019.
Time: Registration 12:00-1:00, Ballet Class 1:00-2:30, Repertoire 2:30-4:00
Location: Ballet Memphis Studios, 2144 Madison Ave., Fly Studio
Cost: $20.00 (cash or credit)
Dancers should be prepared to work on both flat and pointe. Registration will occur on site the day of the audition, and each dancer should arrive with a resume and a headshot.
Contact: Ballet Master Brian McSween at email@example.com
Khecari Audition, June 17th 5-8pm Chicago, IL Location TBA
Khecari artistic directors Julia Rae Antonick and Jonathan Meyer are looking for dancers with an interest in our work. This audition will be structured as a free workshop; we will not be making cuts during the workshop.
While we are always seeking dancers for future projects, we do not anticipate making any decisions immediately following this audition. Any dancers eventually hired for projects would be paid; we have a philosophy of equal pay for everyone and currently offer $15/hour. If you have been to a previous audition, or you know that we are familiar with your work, or you have danced for us in the past, we still encourage you to come as a way of expressing interest in working with Khecari. Dancers are also welcome to come to the audition simply as a free workshop.
We have a somatically grounded approach to dance, a strong interest in improvisation, a penchant for highly kinetic movement and intricate partnering work and an practice of project based investigation and research. Because of the nature of our work, we want to work with dancers who love to roll up their sleeves – whether that means working hard as a dancer in the studio or being game to mop the floor of a dusty old warehouse as part of rehearsal duties. We ask a wide range from pedestrian or simple movement that may feel easy as a technician but is integral to the work, to execution of dance material that is explosive, athletic, and technically challenging. We are excited to work with artists who are interested in the audience's larger experience, not just the movement phrases. Our ideal collaborators are enthusiastic, selfless, self-aware, and self caring, good communicators and supportive of fellow collaborators. We love to work with people who are continually motivated to fine-tuning, digging deeper, finding solutions, and working independently while simultaneously taking direction eagerly.
Although it is not required, we strongly encourage you to attend our movement intensive at Indian Boundary Cultural Center or one or more of our dance classes at Lou Conte leading up to the audition. These will help us introduce you to some movement themes we will focus on in the audition and give us a chance to interact with you more:
2-Day Movement Intensive at Indian Boundary Cultural Center
June 15th & 16th
More info coming soon
Adv/Pro Modern Dance Class at Lou Conte Dance Studios
with Jonathan Meyer | May 8th & 15th, June 5th & 12th
with Julia Antonick | May 22nd & 29th
12 pm – 1:30 pm
$16 drop in
please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a spot and ask questions
***SPACE IS LIMITED - PLEASE RSVP EARLY***
Portland Ballet (Maine) Artistic Director Nell Shipman is seeking apprentice and company dancers for the 2019/2020 season — Contracts are 35 weeks and run from September until May; PB presents four mainstage productions each season, in addition to outreach and collaboration performances.
AUDITIONS ARE BY INVITATION ONLY. To be considered, please submit an audition video, along with a cover letter, resume, 2/3 dance shots and a headshot via email: email@example.com
Portland Ballet || 207.772.9671 || www.portlandballet.org
John Lehrer Dance Company Audition
February 10, 2019
$10 - Cash Only
No appointment or registration necessary for audition.
Jon Lehrer Dance Company is seeking male and female dancers for contracts starting summer 2019. Bring headshot and resume. Come prepared to dance, no warm-up will be given, audition will consist of company repertoire. Appropriate dance attire required, no baggy clothes or warm-ups to be worn during audition. Do not wear dance shoes or socks of any kind, must audition barefoot.
February 9 &10, 2019
1 - 2:30 pm
$25 per day
$40 for both days (price Includes classes and audition)
Take class with Artistic Director Jon Lehrer and company members leading up to Sunday's audition.
Audition & Workshops Location
RIOULT Dance Center
34-01 Steinway Street
Astoria, NY 11101
Register for workshops at www.rioult.org
Big Apple Babes Auditions
Big Apple Babes is an all-lady dance crew here in New York that performs in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade, NYC Pride March, Dance Parade, and other community events around NYC.
Auditions will take place over 2 nights:
**YOU ONLY NEED TO SIGN UP FOR ONE AUDITION**
Monday, January 7th and Tuesday, January 8th
8:00pm - 10:00pm
Mark Morris Dance Center - Independence Community Foundation Studio (1st Floor)
Sign Up Here: https://bit.ly/2EvAAHk
We're looking for bold, positive women of all shapes, sizes, and danceability. Come audition for your spot in the Big Apple Babes for the 2019 season!
For any questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ballet Company of Comic Opera for Children, Bucharest
Preselection for professional Male and Female ballet-dancers for the 2019/2020 season
The Comic Opera for Children is seeking male and female dancers to join the ballet company as soloists and corps de ballet for the 2019/2020 season.
Strong classical technique.
Ladies: 18-28 years old, height 1.63-1.70 m
Gentlemen: 18-28 years old, height 1.75-1.85 m
This audition is by invitation only.
Please email your resume, photos, as well as video links (ladies on pointe) at email@example.com with Audition in subject line.
Your CV must contain: your age, height, weight, nationality, as well as recent photos such as head shot and full body shot in classical ballet poses.
The audition will comprise a full ballet classand a classical variation
Monday, March 18th , 2019 at 2 p.m. corps de ballet
Monday, March 18th, 2019 at 4 p.m. soloists
Calea Giuleşti, Nr.16, Bucharest, Romania
Deadline for applications: 04.03.2019
All appliers will receive an email response within one week of submission.
We are looking forward to your application.
MCB is holding open auditions in New York City for the 2019-20 season. Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez is seeking classically trained male and female dancers with at least 10 years of training or professional experience to join the Company at all ranks. Training in the Balanchine technique is a plus.
Date: Sunday, January 6, 2019
Men's Check-In/Registration: 11am-12pm
Men's Class: 12:15pm-2:15pm
Women's Check-In/Registration: 1pm-2pm
Women's Class: 2:30pm-4:30pm
Location: Ballet Academy East 1651 3rd Ave, New York, NY (212) 410-9140
2-3 full-body dance photographs
Recent video(s) to a classical work, variation
There will be a $20 pre-registration fee payable by credit card
Bring: Hard copies of resume, headshot and dance photos with you to the audition.
If you cannot make it to the New York audition, please submit the required materials to our video audition page, and you will be notified if you are invited to attend an audition class in Miami.
The Ballet Hispánico Company, under the artistic direction of Eduardo Vilaro, seeks experienced male dancers with strong classical and contemporary training. Auditions will be held on Monday, February 4, 2019 at 167 West 89th Street, NYC. Registration begins at 11:00am. A minimum of 3-5 years of professional dance experience is required. Auditions are for 2019-2020 season contracts with excellent benefits and world travel. Auditioning dancers should bring an 8x10 headshot, resume, and $10 nonrefundable fee (cash only). Questions can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
GREGORY HANCOCK DANCE THEATRE
Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre, located in Indianapolis, Indiana is seeking male and female dancers for company positions, guest work, and apprenticeships for its 2019-2020 season. GHDT is a contemporary ballet/modern dance company looking for dancers with strong training in ballet, modern and contemporary styles. ALL APPLICANTS WHO LIVE OUTSIDE THE U.S. MUST HAVE A VALID WORK VISA. ALL APPLICANTS MUST BE AVAILABLE TO AUDITION IN PERSON.
Auditions will be held on:
Saturday, January 19, 2019 1:30-3:30pm
Saturday, March 9, 2019 1:30-3:30pm
Saturday, April 13, 2019 1:30-3:30pm
All auditions will be held at:
The Academy of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre
329 Gradle Dr. Carmel, IN 46032
Registration begins 30 minutes prior to audition time
Audition fee: $20
Audition will include ballet barre, modern exercises, and company repertoire.
GHDT also accepts auditions during company class. These auditions are by invitation only. To apply, please email a resume, headshot, and recent dance reel to email@example.com.
For registration or inquiries about the audition please visit gregoryhancockdancetheatre.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
KAMEA DANCE COMPANY, ISRAEL
Artistic Director: Tamir Ginz
Audition for professional Male and Female Dancers for the 2019-21 seasons.Contracts from August 2018.
European Audition in Amsterdam – The Netherlands: Sunday, March 3rd, at 9:30 -16:30, At: Chasse Dance Studios Chasséstraat 64, 1057 JJ Amsterdam
* Kamea Dance Company is a major company in the Israeli dance scene, holding around 80 performances a year in Israel and abroad.
* Contemporary- modern repertoire by resident choreographer Tamir Ginz and renowned guest choreographers.
* Annual 12 month salary, 2 years commitment required.
Requirements:– We are looking for exceptional talents with good physique and strong classical ballet and modern technique.– Age: over 20 to 30 Max (No exceptions).– Creative dancer, highly motivated, serious attitude, commitment to job. Professional experience in a recognized company is an advantage. This is an open audition, No videos are required. No need to prepare any variations.
For more details and registration:https://www.kameadance.com/en/blog/european-auditi...
We are looking forward to your application!
2019/2020 Season Auditions
Oregon Ballet Theatre is seeking professional classical dancers to fill positions at all levels within the company for its exciting 2019/2020 Season. OBT's repertory includes classical full length ballets and repertory productions featuring new and iconic works from Resident Choreographer Nicolo Fonte in addition to well-known artists such as Nacho Duato, William Forsythe, & Jiří Kylián. OBT is a member of AGMA and offers dancers competitive salary plus benefits and a minimum contract of (at least) 32 weeks.
San Francisco, CA: Friday, January 4, 2019
New York City, NY: Monday, January 21, 2019
Auditions are by invitation only.
Head and body shot
Video link to one classical and one contemporary piece
To be considered email Tracey.Sartorio@obt.org
Ajkun Ballet Theatre is looking for professional dancers for its Season 2019-2020 and professional dancers and dance students for its upcoming European Tour 2019-2020.
European Tour (November 2019 - January 2020):
Auditions by Video are currently been accepted.
Rehearsals will take place in New York City.
Repertory performed: Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and The Sleeping Beauty, choreography by Chiara Ajkun.
Salary starts at $1,000.00/week for experienced professionals ages 18-35 years old.
Dance students ages 8-17 years old are offered a performance fee commensurate with experience and EU Child Labor Laws.
In addition to the salary, the cast receives round trip flights from New York City, ground tour transportation by Charter Bus, hotel accommodation (breakfast included), per diem and ballet shoes.
AjkunBT NYC Open Audition
Saturday, February 9, 2019
3:30-4:30 pm registration, 4:30 -6:30 pm audition class
at the Alvin Ailey Studios,
405 West 55th Street, New York, NY 10019
AjkunBT ROME Open Audition
Saturday, February 2, 2019
2:00-2:30 pm registration, 2:30 -4:30 pm audition class
at ATELIER DELLA DANZA DI RAFFAELE PAGANINI
Circonvallazione Appia 107, 00179 Roma ITALY
AjkunBT CHICAGO Open Audition
Saturday, February 16, 2019
4:00-5:00 pm registration, 5:00 -7:00 pm audition class
at HUBBARD STREET DANCE
1147 W. Jackson Blvd., CHICAGO, IL 60607
AjkunBT MIAMI Open Audition
Sunday, February 24, 2019
3:30-4:30 pm registration, 4:30 -6:30 pm audition class
at MIAMI YOUTH BALLET STUDIOS
9210 SW 158 LN, Miami, FL 33157
AjkunBT LONDON Open Audition
Saturday, February 23, 2019
4:00-5:00 pm registration, 5:00 -7:00 pm audition class
at PINEAPPLE DANCE STUDIO
7 Langley St, London WC2H 9JA UK
For information: ajkun@ aol.com | (864) 420-6150 | https://www.ajkunbt.org/auditions-in-person.html
2019/20 AUDITIONS AND NEW DANCE COMMISSIONS
Booking for open auditions opens Friday 16 November
Seeking the world's best young dancers for the 2019/20 cohort of Rambert2
UK tour includes new commissions for Jermaine Spivey and Andrea Miller
Open auditions for the 2019/20 cohort will be held at Rambert's studios in London from Sunday 3 - Wednesday 6 February 2019
The 2019/20 cohort will start at the end of July 2019
Britain's leading contemporary dance company is inviting the world's finest early-career dancers to join Rambert2, Rambert's second ensemble designed to develop and showcase the next generation of highly skilled, thinking dancers.
The inaugural Rambert2 cohort attracted over 800 applicants, who attended open auditions at Rambert's London studios in February this year. 13 dancers were chosen from all over the world, with training from centres in Asia, America and Europe. A second cohort will form Rambert2 for 12 months from the end of July 2019. During their year, dancers will complete a postgraduate qualification, MA in Professional Dance Performance, awarded by Rambert School, one of the country's leading dance conservatoires.
Rambert2 is delivered in partnership between Rambert and Rambert School as part of an MA in Professional Dance Performance. Rambert2 is supported by the Linbury Trust.
For full details about auditions, see www.rambert.org.uk/rambert2
Ballet des Amériques seeks Male and Female Classical Dancers
Ballet des Amériques is looking for classically and modern trained dancers – 1 man and 1 woman to start immediately– for its professional dance company. Candidates should also be comfortable with neoclassical, contemporary and modern techniques and works. Knowledge of African and Afro-Caribbean dance styles would be advantageous.
Ballet des Amériques engages dancers who grasp and appreciate the pedagogical, aesthetic and ethical principles of its organization as whole and who are willing to commit to their realization in the dance company.
Ballet des Amériques is looking for individuals with artistic sensitivity and a high level of commitment to the arts as a whole.
To be considered for a company class audition:
Please send your cover letter, resume, photograph, and video material to email@example.com. Please include "Seeking classically trained dancers" in the subject line.
All applicants must have the proper documentation to work in the U.S. (i.e: work permit, Green card, U.S. Citizen, etc.)
If hired, candidate will be asked to fill out a W-4 and sign a contract. Dancers receive rehearsal and performance pay.
Location: 16 King St. Port Chester, NY 10573
Note: Studios are 1 minute from Port Chester's MNR commuter train station
D&D ART PRODUCTIONS will be holding its GRAND AUDITION for professional dancers and graduate students between 17 – 26 years of age, on Tuesday the 5th , and Wednesday the 6th of February 2019, at the Teatre-Auditori Sant Cugat, Barcelona, Spain.
GRAND AUDITION provides a unique opportunity for dancers to audition for several ballet companies at one time and in one place. Since its first edition in 2016, a total of 473 dancers took part in Grand Audition with over 160 job offers from companies such as: ABT, Ballet de l'Opera National de Bordeaux, Ekaterinburg State Academic Ballet Theater, Polish National Ballet, Lithuanian National Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet, Finnish National Ballet, Royal Swedish Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Panama, Novosibirsk State Ballet Theater, Mikailovsky Ballet Theater.
We are pleased to announce the 2019 Grand Audition participating ballet company artistic directors:
• Dutch National Ballet (Junior Company)
• Lithuanian National Ballet
• Mariinsky Ballet Theater
• Novosibirsk State Opera
• Polish National Ballet
• Zurich Ballet
• National Ballet of Panama
Applications can be submitted online: www.grandaudition.net
Application Deadline: JANUARY 3, 2019
Due to the limited space availability we reserve the right to close the application process once the number of the accepted applicants reaches its limit.
New Ballet Ensemble is hiring Teaching and Performing Artists
New Ballet Ensemble and School located in Memphis,TN is auditioning in New York City for full-time teaching and performing artists for the 2018-2019 season.
-New Ballet Ensemble offers their teaching and performing artists 36-40 week contracts with benefits and part-time seasonal opportunities.
-The season includes 3-4 full-evening productions, school shows, company performance collaborations in locations all over the Memphis area. Teaching in our studio, schools, and community locations.
-Repertory performed is a diverse, mulitcultural blend of classical ballet to contemporary, modern, hiphop, West African and flamenco. Previous guest choreographers include Francesca Harper, Elizabeth Corbett ( Frankfurt Ballet, Willam Forsythe), General Hambrick (Minnesota Dance Theatre) , Uri Sands (Alvin Aliey, NC Dance Theatre) and many more.
Dancers applying should have an equal love for performing and teaching. A high technical level of ballet and/or modern dance. Versatillity in other styles a plus! The ability to teach varying levels of dance (Ballet, Horton, Graham, Tap, Jazz, etc) Professional company credentials or BFA in dance is not required but is strongly desired. Please send CV, headshot, and dance reels to the attention of Noelia Carmona at firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration and audition details.
Visit our website www.newballet.org for more information about the company, school, and mission.
Roanoke Ballet Theatre
Roanoke Ballet Theatre, located in Roanoke, Virginia is seeking male and female dancers for company positions, apprenticeships, and traineeships for its 2018-2019 season. RBT is a classical and contemporary ballet company looking for dancers with strong training in ballet, pointe and contemporary styles. All applicants who live outside the US must have a valid work visa. Applicants are preferred to audition in person.
Auditions will be held during regularly scheduled company classes, Monday-Friday 10:00-11:30am and Saturdays 11:30-1:00pm
All auditions will be held at:
Roanoke Ballet Theatre
Audition fee: $25
To register for an audition please email resume, headshot, photo in first arabesque, and video of classwork and/or performance footage to email@example.com
When Thomas Forster isn't in the gym doing his own workout, he's often coaching his colleagues.
Two years ago, the American Ballet Theatre soloist got a personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Now he trains fellow ABT members and teaches the ABT Studio Company a strength and conditioning class alongside fellow ABT soloist Roman Zhurbin.
He shared six of his top tips for getting into top shape.
No matter how much anti–Valentine's Day sentiment I'm feeling in a given year, there's something about dancer couples that still makes me swoon. Here's a collection of wonderful posts from this year, but be warned: Continued scrolling is likely to give you a severe case of the warm fuzzies.
When Rennie Harris first heard that Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater had tapped him to create a new hour-long work, and to become the company's first artist in residence, he laughed.
"I'm a street dance choreographer. I do street dance on street dancers," he says. "I've never set an hour-long piece on any other company outside my own, and definitely not on a modern dance company."
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When Chase Brock signed on to choreograph a new musical at a theater in New Jersey in 2015, he couldn't have predicted that four years later, he would be receiving fan art featuring his Chihuahua because of it. Nor could he have he imagined that the show—Be More Chill, based on the young adult novel by Ned Vizzini—would be heading to Broadway with one of the most enthusiastic teenage fan bases the Great White Way has ever seen.
It's no longer just Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and the few pointe-clad male character parts, like in Cinderella or Alexei Ratmansky's The Bright Stream. Some male dancers are starting to experiment with pointe shoes to strengthen their feet or expand their artistic possibilities. Michelle Dorrance even challenged the men in her cast at American Ballet Theatre to perform on pointe last season (although only Tyler Maloney ended up actually doing it onstage).
The one problem? Pointe shoes have traditionally only been designed for women. Until now.
Camille Sturdivant, a former member of the Blue Valley Northwest High School dance team is suing the school district, alleging that she was barred from performing in a dance because her skin was "too dark."
The suit states that during Sturdivant's senior year, the Dazzlers' choreographer, Kevin Murakami, would not allow her to perform in a contemporary dance because he said her skin would clash with the costumes, and that she would steal focus from the other dancers because of her skin color.
You wander through the grocery aisles, sizing up the newest trends on the shelves. Although you're eager to try a new energy bar, you question a strange ingredient and decide to leave it behind. Your afternoons are consumed with research as you sort through endless stories about "detox" miracles.
What started as an innocent attempt to eat healthier has turned into a time-consuming ritual with little room for error, and an underlying fear surrounding your food choices.
Aside from a solid warm-up, most dancers have something else they just have to do before performing. Whether it's putting on the right eyelashes before the left or giving a certain handshake before a second-act entrance, our backstage habits give us the comfort of familiar, consistent choices in an art form with so many variables.
Some call them superstitions, others call them rituals. Either way, these tiny moments become part of our work—and sometimes even end up being the most treasured part of performing.
Raise your hand if you've ever gotten sucked down an informational rabbit hole on the internet. (Come on, we know it's not just us.) Now, allow us to direct you to this new project from Google Arts & Culture. To celebrate Black History Month, they've put together a newly curated collection of images, videos and stories that spotlights black history and culture in America specifically through the lens of dance—and it's pretty much our new favorite way to pass the time online.
If you're anything like us, your Instagram feed is chock-full of gorgeous dance photos and videos. But you know what makes us fall in love with an artist even more? When they take a break from curating perfect posts and get real about their missteps. These performers' ability to move past mistakes, and even laugh them off, is one reason why they're so successful.
Every time you fall out of a pirouette, just remember: The stars—and literally every. single. dancer.—have been there, too. (Even Misty Copeland.)
Dancers today have an overwhelming array of options at their fingertips: New fitness tools, recovery trends, workouts and more that claim to improve performance, speed up recovery or enhance training.
But which of these actually meet the unique demands of dancers? In our new series, "We Tried It," we're going to find out, sampling new health and fitness trends to see if they're dancer-approved.
First up: Brrrn, the cold temperature fitness studio (the first and only of its kind, they claim) located in Manhattan.
Lately I've been having recurring dreams: I'm in an audition and I can't remember the combination. Or, I'm rehearsing for an upcoming show, onstage, and I don't know what comes next. Each time I wake up relieved that it was only a dream.
However, this is the reality of how I often felt throughout my dance career. Once I knew the steps, there was no undoing it. It was the process of getting there that haunts me to this day.
Throughout your dancing life, you've heard the same corrections over and over. The reason for the repetition? Dancers tend to make the same errors, sometimes with catastrophic results. Dance Magazine spoke to eight teachers about what they perceive to be the worst habits—the ones that will destroy a dancer's technique—and what can be done to reverse the damage.
To get a 180-degree first position, dancers will sometimes let their arches roll forward. But turnout is not about forcing your feet open; it's about opening up in the hips. “Turning out is an activity, not a position," says Irene Dowd, who teaches anatomy at the Juilliard School. “If we stop sustaining that movement, our feet will passively roll in." Rolling in places stress on the tendons of the feet and leads to injury because the rest of the body compensates for the imbalance when your knees can't line up over your toes.
Dowd warns against using only the arch to combat rolling in. “Dancers will try to lift up their arches and pull up on the inside of the ankle," she says. This can result in the inflammation of the tendons in the ankle and lead to tendinitis, a painful overuse injury that's common in dancers. What she feels are “Victorian furniture feet—feet that aren't fully in contact with the ground" should be solid in three areas: the heel, the ball of the big toe, and the ball of the little toe. Imagine how your weight is being transferred from above, through the body and down the legs, rather than gripping the foot and lifting from the arch.
Misaligning the Spine
Distorting the back, either by crunching the lumbar vertebrae and splaying the rib cage open or by hunching the shoulders forward and tucking the pelvis under, affects every other part of the body. Since the proper placement of the torso is the foundation of any movement, a dancer with a misaligned spine will develop other deadly technique sins. Problems can ripple all the way down to the extremities and upward to the neck and head. The core will be loose, unable to provide essential support. A pelvis that either tips back or tucks under will limit the range of motion in the hips.
Christine Spizzo's students at the North Carolina School of the Arts constantly work on their placement. “The one directive I give in class more than any other," she says, “is tailbone down, navel muscles lifted." She emphasizes that the tailbone lengthens downward without tucking under, and the navel muscles lift upward, not inward. This opposition allows the external rotator muscles to be actively engaged at the top of the thigh. Spizzo uses the expression the Four Ts—“no tucking, tipping, tilting, or twisting of the pelvis"—as a reminder for students.
Clenching the Toes
Clenching, curling, knuckling—no matter what it's called, this condition hampers a dancer's ability to articulate the feet. Clenched toes also make the feet an unstable platform to stand on, creating problems for the rest of the body. The muscles and tendons of the foot, knee, and ankle must work together to perform a relevé or jump, says Edward Ellison, director of Ellison Ballet Professional Training Program in New York. Clenched toes will place unwanted stress on the joints of the legs, leading to imbalance and overuse injuries. On pointe, knuckling over can damage the bones and tendons of the feet.
Master ballet teacher Sara Neece of Ballet Arts in New York says that when the first joint of the toe presses down into the floor too hard, the second joint of the toe jams into the metatarsal. For Neece, the key to remedying clenched toes lies in “bringing sensation to those unused tendons" beneath the second joint, and teaching the toes how to work in a careful and deliberate manner. While seated, a dancer should prick the back of each clenched toe with a fingernail about 20 times. Sitting on a chair with the foot on the ground, she should drag it back toward the body, slowly raising it to demi-pointe with a forced arch. Teachers must pay attention to the response of the feet to this localized work, since overstressing the tendons can damage them. Another way to teach the toes to stretch out is to weave a strip of cloth over the second toe and alternate below and above successive toes, leaving it there during barrework and nondance activities.
Giving In to Extreme Hyperextension
Hyperextended legs, in which the straightened knee naturally curves behind the thigh and calf muscles, are prized in the world of extreme ballet bodies. Christine Spizzo sings the praise of a moderately hyperextended leg line, as the leg fits snugly in fifth position, and the arabesque looks gorgeous, with that slight curve offsetting the arch of the foot. However, dancers with extreme hyperextension must take special care. “The hyperextended dancer tends to have weak external rotator muscles," she says, so the legs are more prone to collapse in on themselves when landing from a jump, letting the body weight fall on the knees. This can result in damage to the joints that maintain the alignment of the leg, including twisted knees and sprained ankles. Even if the dancer understands how to avoid giving in to her hyperextension, she has to learn how to express herself fully while restraining her legs.
But Spizzo points to dancers such as international star Sylvie Guillem, who has used her extreme hyperextension to her advantage. The dancer must think of lengthening rather than straightening or locking the knee, even if it feels slightly bent. She must develop a heightened awareness of the turnout muscles from the top of the thigh down to the calf. “The muscles must be activated to not allow the dancer to give in to the hyperextension," says Spizzo. She uses the image of the barbershop pole to encourage dancers to apply that feeling of an infinite spiral to their legs. Somatic practices such as Pilates can help to strengthen those stabilizing turnout muscles. Spizzo insists that dancers stand with the heels together in first position and never be allowed to press back into that knee joint. To do this, “the quadriceps must remain soft. As soon as you grip, it pulls that kneecap back dangerously."
Using Unnecessary Tension
“Tension," says Daniel Lewis, dean of dance at the New World School of the Arts, “pulls you off balance. It tightens the muscles and causes injury." Stiff muscles are injury-prone muscles, which make free and confident movement impossible.
Unwanted stiffness can also limit your versatility as a dancer. “Modern dance is concerned with trying to go into space off-center and off-balance," says Mary Cochran, chair of the dance department at Barnard College. “If you spend too much time holding your body stiffly, it's hard to make the transition from working in-balance to working off-balance."
Rhythmic breathing helps dissipate tension. Think of the lungs as another limb and pace the breath with the dynamics of the music. Sustain a sense of motion in the body, even when you are still, advises Cochran. Doing so will help reverse the muscle memory of using tension as a form of stability.
Pinching Your Shoulder Blades
Although used as a strategy to open the chest in front, pinching your shoulder blades together immobilizes the back. The serratus anterior on the sides of your rib cage is so overstretched that it can't work. Edward Ellison says that pinched shoulder blades impede the freedom of the arms and the support of the upper spine. He feels that they “cause your weight to fall behind your axis, and strain the trapezius and rhomboid muscles of the back."
Irene Dowd suggests thinking about widening the tips of the shoulders to the side, to allow plenty of room for the chest. “It helps to think about the chest—full of your lungs, your heart, all those organs—as a sphere," says Dowd. “We need to have enough room for all those precious organs to breathe." To relax shoulder blades, sometimes she will tell students to focus on the movement of the hands. “Is the hand really a lively part of my being?" Dowd has her students ask. “The shoulder blade should support that hand."
Getting Stuck in a Rut
While physical habits impede progress, the deadliest sin is losing the drive to improve technique at all. Franco De Vita, principal of American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, says good technique begins with a dancer's approach to class. Being present and focused enables the dancer to learn combinations quickly—and correctly. “Not listening and changing the exercise is unacceptable," says De Vita.
Michael Vernon, chair of the ballet department at Indiana University, feels the worst thing a dancer can do “is to get fixed into doing something a certain way, being safe. I love young dancers who understand that you have to dance for tomorrow, and not yesterday." Keeping an open mind means more than just trying a different preparation for a pirouette. “Being open to new styles of dance and new ways of moving the body is vital to keeping the art relevant."
Though Polunin has long had a reputation for behaving inappropriately, in the last month his posts have been somewhat unhinged. In one, Polunin, who is Ukrainian, shows off his new tattoo of Vladimir Putin:
I write this letter knowing full well and first-hand the financial challenges of running an arts organization. I also write this letter on behalf of dancers auditioning for your companies. Lastly, I write this letter as a member of society at large and as someone who cares deeply about the culture we are leading and the climate we create in the performing arts.
In the February 1969 issue of Dance Magazine, we talked to Bob Fosse about taking Sweet Charity from stage to screen. Though he already had a string of Tony Awards for Best Choreography and had spent plenty of time on film sets as a choreographer, this adaptation marked his first time sitting in the director's chair for a motion picture.
"When I started out, I wanted to be a Fred Astaire," he told us, "and after that a Jerome Robbins. But then I realized there was always somebody a dancer or choreographer had to take orders from. So I decided I wanted to become a director, namely a George Abbott. But as I got older I dropped the hero-worship thing. I didn't want to emulate anyone. Just wanted to do the things I was capable of doing—and have some fun doing them. By this time I'm glad I didn't turn out to be an Astaire, a Robbins or an Abbott." He would go on to become an Academy Award–winning director, indelibly changing musical theater in the process.
If you've ever wondered where models get their moves, look just off-camera for Pat Boguslawski. As a movement director and creative consultant based in London, he works with top brands, fashion designers, magazines and film directors to elicit bold, photogenic movement for ad campaigns, runway shows and film. Boguslawski has collaborated with plenty of big-name talent—FKA Twigs, Hailey Baldwin, Victoria Beckham, Kim Kardashian—and draws on his diverse experience in hip hop, contemporary dance, acting and modeling.
Dance Magazine recently asked him about how he got this career, and what it takes to thrive in it.
Let's say that today you're having a terrible time following your class's choreography and are feeling ashamed—you're always stumbling a few beats behind. Do you:
1. Admit it's your fault because you didn't study the steps last night? Tonight you'll nail them down.
2. Feel worthless and alone? You slump your shoulders, avoid eye contact with your teacher and fellow dancers, and wish to disappear.
Shame is a natural emotion that everyone occasionally feels. If you answered #1, it may be appropriate—you earned it by not studying—and positive if it motivates you to do better in the future.
My hypermobility used to cause me a lot of trouble, but I've gained confidence and strength after reading about it in one of your columns. I now have a Pilates instructor who's retraining my body and helping me dance in a consistent way. Thank you!
—No Longer Anxious, Philadelphia, PA
George Balanchine famously wrote, that ballet "is a woman." Four of his most celebrated women—Allegra Kent, Gloria Govrin, Kay Mazzo and Merrill Ashley—appeared onstage at Jacques d'Amboise's National Dance Institute Monday evening to celebrate his legacy. The sold-out program, called "Balanchine's Ballerinas," included performances of excerpts from ballets closely associated with these women and a discussion, moderated by former New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan. Here are some highlights of the conversation, filled with affection, warmth and fond memories.