Sending a video audition gives you more control over the process. Photo by ShareGrid via Unsplash
Not being able to attend the in-person audition at your top college can feel like the end of the world. But while it's true that going to the live audition is ideal, you can still make the best out of sending a video. Here are some of the perks:
As all bunheads know, there's so much more to dancing on pointe than sewing and bourées. In this new video, The Australian Ballet lays it all out for us, from A-Z. Or rather from "Arch" to "Zzzzzz's." Using a super fast-paced style, this four-and-a-half minute long video skips back and forth between ultra-sleek minimalism and sepia-toned nostalgia. Both educational and insider-y (see "cashews" at 0:54), this video includes some gorgeous shots (Apollo-inspired arabesques at 2:00) interspersed with quirky humor (note adorable pointe shoe bed at 3:53).
Fancy equipment is nice, but be sure not to over-edit your video. Photo by Getty Images
When finances, geographical distance or timing make attending in-person college auditions impossible, sometimes your only option is to audition via video. We talked to three department heads about the biggest mistakes they see prospective students make in video auditions—and how to avoid them:
Dancemaking skills will serve you far beyond the studio, says Iyun Ashani Harrison. Photo by Willow Pinkerton, courtesy Harrison
Whether or not you see yourself choreographing in your future, you can gain a lot from studying dance composition. "Many companies ask you to generate your own content. Choreography is more collaborative now," says Autumn Eckman, a faculty member at the University of Arizona.
Look beyond the rehearsal studio, and you'll find even more benefits to having dancemaking skills. "Being a thinker as well as a mover is what creates a sustainable career," says Iyun Ashani Harrison, who teaches at Goucher College. "Viewing dance with a developed eye and being able to speak about what you're seeing is valuable whether you're a dancer, a choreographer, an artistic director or a curator."
Succeeding in composition class often has more to do with attitude than aptitude. Above all, you need "a willingness to play along and explore," says Kevin Predmore, who teaches at the Ailey/Fordham BFA program. "You have to let go of the desire to create something extraordinary, and instead be curious."
A still from the new documentary, DANSEUR. Image courtesy DANSEUR
According to the new documentary DANSEUR, 85% of males who study dance in the United States are bullied or harassed. A quote in the film from Dr. Doug Risner, faculty member at Wayne State University, states, "If this scope of bullying occurred in any activity other than dance, it would be considered a public health crisis by the CDC."
So why is it allowed to persist in ballet? And why aren't we talking about it more? These are the questions that DANSEUR seeks to answer. But primarily consisting of dance footage and interviews with male dancers like ABT's James Whiteside, Houston Ballet's Harper Watters and Boston Ballet's Derek Dunn, the film only addresses these issues superficially, with anecdotes about individual experiences and generalizations about what it's like to be a male dancer.
You can still be learning even if you have to sit out. PC Getty Images
When you're unable to dance, it's easy to feel like you're falling behind and losing out on opportunities. But this can be a time to reset your body and come back even stronger, says Ilana Goldman, BFA program director at Florida State University's School of Dance. "Some of the greatest leaps I made in my technique happened because of injuries," she says. "Learning how to deal with them is part of being a professional dancer."
Tiler Peck teaching a CLI class. Photo by Quinn Wharton, courtesy CLI
Whether you're learning a new style, warming up for a performance or just want to take class when you can't make it to the studio, online dance training platforms are an ever-growing option for dancers of all genres and skill levels. And though they should never replace your live training, they can be a convenient—and hopefully valuable—supplement. Here are the best options available today:
Modern class at Dance Prix de New York's precursor, Indianapolis International Ballet Competition. Photo by Natalie Lowder, courtesy DPNY
Ever dreamed of dancing in the companies of modern or post-modern dance giants like José Limón, Paul Taylor or Trisha Brown? Then it might be time to enter a dance competition.
Yes, you read that right.
Probably the last genre of dance you'd ever expect there to be a competition for now has its own track at the Dance Prix de New York.
The competition debuts this March, led by Seán Curran, chair of New York University's Tisch Dance department and Jolinda Menendez, a former American Ballet Theatre dancer who now teaches at Tisch (where all the rounds take place). There's both a classical and a contemporary track—although the "contemporary" category isn't what you'd usually expect to see when you hear that word at competitions. Rather than tilts or round offs, the focus will be placed on more subtle modes of movement.
Heavy backpacks and hilly campuses can wear on a college dancer's body. Photo via Thinkstock
College can be hard on the body. Between late-night rehearsals, carrying backpacks around hilly campuses and long, sedentary study sessions, it's tough for dancers to give their bodies the care they need to prevent injury.
Here are the most common reasons college students get injured—and our top tips for prevention.
STEEZY's web player has options for tempo and viewpoint. Photo by Sam Caudle, courtesy STEEZY
Dance technology has come a long way from ballet variations painstakingly learned by watching fuzzy VHS tapes. Over the last few years, a dizzying number of online training programs have cropped up, offering the chance to take class in contemporary, jazz, ballet, tap, hip hop and even ballroom from the comfort of your own living room or studio.
Assisting gave Eliah Furlong taste of the professional dance world. Photo by Beau Austin, courtesy Furlong
Adding another commitment to your already busy schedule may be the last thing you want to do as a college student. But assisting at dance conventions can offer valuable experiences you won't find in a classroom. Convention assistants help students pick up choreography and rub shoulders with industry influencers. For some, it's the perfect addition to their college experience—but balancing the demands of both isn't easy.
Students from Dance Institute in Austin, TX. Evolve Photo & Video
When you're dancing in an ensemble, it can be easy to feel like a cog in the machine. Instead of lamenting your lack of spotlight, look for ways to embrace being part of something larger. Over your dance career, you'll likely spend far more time performing with others than flying solo. Group work doesn't only teach you skills like timing and spatial awareness—it can also build your artistry.
A panel at Youth America Grand Prix. Photo by Rachel Papo for Pointe
At competitions, the people who are scoring you can be the biggest industry leaders in the room. But is there a way to network with them with these judges? Three top competition judges share their advice on how to do it in the most strategic way—and the pet peeves that turn them off.
Staring down the audience can be a powerful choice when appropriate. Photo by Soho Images, "Nebula" choreographed by Maria Konrad courtesy Next Generation Dance
The most compelling dancers don't just have amazing technique. They also use their focus to draw in the audience and make their performance captivating. Be more confident and engaging onstage by avoiding these mistakes:
Many colleges today are offering affordable certification for dance students. Photo courtesy JCC Indianapolis
Many of today's savvy dance students are accruing practical skills alongside their bachelor's degrees. In particular, some pursue Pilates certifications to gain a deeper understanding of anatomy and kinesiology as well as the opportunity to earn high wages and work flexible hours. (New Pilates teachers make about $35 per mat class, and master trainers can make more than $100 per private session.) While teacher training at a studio can be expensive and time-consuming, more and more college dance departments are offering deeply discounted certifications.
Jealousy is normal—it becomes a problem when it affects your dancing. Thinkstock
A classmate lands the role you wanted. Another dancer is always earning compliments from the teacher you can never seem to please. The dance world is full of opportunities to feel envious—and according to psychologist Nadine Kaslow, that is completely normal.
"To say you shouldn't ever feel jealous is unrealistic," says Kaslow, who works with dancers at Atlanta Ballet. "But when you become driven by it, rather than focusing on doing your best to improve, that's when it turns harmful." Luckily, there are ways to channel this negative emotion into positive growth.
"A dancer should not be encouraged to stay in a trainee position for years if it is unlikely that they will move to the next level," says Julie Kent. Photo by Rachel Papo for Dance Teacher
One of the most crucial responsibilities of an artistic director is the development of dancers. Sharing the benefit of my experience through daily class and rehearsals is perhaps the most gratifying part of my work at The Washington Ballet. But artistic leaders also need to help dancers in the broader navigation of their careers.
Whether it involves difficult conversations with seasoned professionals or with teenagers coping with the anxiety of an uncertain career path, advising dancers is personal because our art is personal. Dancers create their art with their own bodies—not on paper, not with instruments made of brass or wood and strings, but with themselves. This highly intimate element of the job cannot be underestimated, and as a result, every conversation about the work essentially becomes about the person. Trust is not assumed nor is it given easily, as only time and shared experiences allow for it to grow.
Every dancer wants to open their competition score packet and see high marks that sing their praises. But a less-than-stellar score can quickly sour what was meant to be a positive learning experience.
While winners walk away with cash prizes, glistening trophies and scholarships to their dream schools, it can be tempting to let a low score be your one-way ticket to self-pity city. But with the right mindset, even a lackluster competition performance can be made into a constructive rather than destructive experience.
It's fairly common to get to college and find that you aren't being challenged. Photo by Carlos Funn, courtesy University of Michigan
It's not uncommon for students to arrive at college and find that it isn't as hard as they thought it would be. Maybe they aren't placed in the correct level. Maybe it's an attitude problem. Maybe teachers are reviewing basics before diving into more advanced material. And maybe the program truly isn't challenging enough.
But how can dancers making the adjustment to college sort through all these possibilities? Open communication with faculty members can be key to figuring out what's really at work.