Career Advice

Agents' Secrets: 5 Talent Agents' Tips for Mastering Commercial Auditions

Courtesy Broadway Dance Center

What are the best ways to prepare for an audition?

Photo by Levi Walker, Courtesy CTG

"Research as much as you can about the project or choreographer. When a dancer is prepared, they tend to be more focused, more relaxed and really able to show themselves at their best. If the choreographer happens to be teaching at a local studio beforehand, get in that class!"

—Brandon Sierra, Clear Talent Group


What makes for good audition materials?

Photo Courtesy Bloc

"Make sure you understand what photos you need and in which format. Whoever is looking at the picture needs to clearly see your face, eyes and what you actually look like. A pet peeve of mine is too long of a resumé when you repeat the same artist over and over. Take the best of what you've done, and list the most current projects, rather than something you did eight years ago."

—Laney Filuk, Bloc Agency

Should a dancer develop a signature look or tailor it for each audition?

Photo by Vince Trupsin, Courtesy MSA

"It all comes down to the confidence factor. You don't want to go in with things that might shake up your confidence, whether that's your hair, what you're wearing or your makeup. You want to stand out but not in a way that's awkward or obnoxious. If you're going to emulate a character or portray a look, make sure it's an extension of who you are—it should never feel like a costume. That's not authentic."

—JC Gutierrez, McDonald/Selznick Associates

How can you make yourself stand out at a large open call?

Photo by Lindsay Rosenberg, Courtesy Go 2 Talent Agency

"The people that can let that stress roll off and delve into the emotion of the choreography are the ones that bubble to the top. Remember that you're being watched immediately when you start learning the combination. I think choreographers are attracted to dancers who digest their style right away. That shows that you're detail-oriented and translates to a certain level of professionalism. And if they say, 'Does someone want to dance again?' Do it!"

—Terry Lindholm, Go 2 Talent Agency

How much do you consider a dancer's attitude?

Photo by Vince Trupsin, Courtesy MSA

"A dancer's mind-set and the way they present themselves is profound. We're expecting you to be a tremendous dancer, so what other attributes can you bring to the table? If you want to be a collaborator and have longevity, that means being positive and supporting others in the industry."

—Shelli Margheritis, McDonald/Selznick Associates

News
Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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Health & Body
Sara Mearns in the gym. Photo by Kyle Froman.

New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.

"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "

She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.

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In Memoriam
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle with Ballet Theatre, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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