Entering the corps de ballet can be a shock for recent graduates: What's needed by your company is suddenly much different from what helped you succeed as a student. Dance Magazine recently spent a day with some corps members from Boston Ballet, so we asked a few of the dancers for their top tips for success.
Rule #1: Use Your Fellow Corps Members
Be open to receiving corrections from your peers on steps and spacing. Use each other's eyes as assets.
Rule #2: Think Geometrically On Stage
Imagine the floor as graph paper, and take note of your distances frontwards, backwards, diagonally and across the stage at all times. Don't just focus on your own choreography—learn all patterns of the stage movement as a whole. This will help you swing from one role to the next if the need arises.
Rule #3: Value Teamwork Above All Else
Put the production before your personal performance. For instance, if you are seventh in line and the leader lifts the wrong arm onstage, follow their lead, right or wrong. There are no points for being the only one who's "right" if you ruin the overall stage picture.
Rule #4: Don't Lose Focus When You're Not in the Spotlight
Corps work requires not only selflessness, but strong personal discipline. "Will you still dance your best although you may be able to get away with less? Will you still work hard without individual praise?" asks Boston Ballet dancer Brett Fukuda. Push for the good of the company and the strength of the unit. As former Boston Ballet corps member Brittany Summer says, corps dancers have to be "big-hearted, strong-willed, formidable creatures."