Audition Season is Upon Us

Right now, in 2021, audition season seems almost impossible. Ballet Companies and Schools are flooding their programs for the sake of recovering dollars lost during COVID, and parents are questioning whether or not sending their student away is even an option. I get it. 2021 is a mess. So, I am blogging today to help you find some clarity. Most students have already completed their summer course auditions, and are now juggling what program to attend. Normally, we would be asking ourselves questions like, “Where do I really want to train? Is joining the school year-round even a possibility?” This year we ask ourselves, “Is this program really going to happen? Do they actually like my kid, or is this about money?”

Evelyn Lyman of The Ballet Clinic, Photographed by Ashley Lorraine Baker

These are all the subtle realities of ballet right now, and everyone is going through it.

Here is how we recommend our summer courses to my students:
1. Could you see yourself dancing in the company? Do they move like you? Do they look like you? Do you want to move like that?

2. Is the training on par/the same level with what you are currently getting?

3. Can you see yourself living there? Location matters.

4. Did you receive a scholarship?

5. Will this provide more opportunities for you in the future?

Parents right now are really facing a financial burden, as the economic toll of COVID is bulldozing through. Spending $6-10K on a summer course that may or may not happen in person is stressful. Beyond stressful. No one wants a repeat of last year.

Lauryn Brown of The Ballet Clinic, Photographed by David JW King

While most students in ballet right now are figuring out which program they will be attending, many are just starting auditions because of the lack of information provided to them. Many schools do not help their kids audition and try to find summer placement because of the financial factor. Keeping kids guarantees dollars. If you are just getting to auditions, make sure you hit the live, record a good video, and take beautiful photos!

Sophie Hod of Kansas City Ballet’s Trainee Program photographed by Ashley Lorraine Baker

Generation Lost
There is a whole generation right now, searching for work, searching for answers, and most of all, searching for hope. Dancers ages 17-22 are in an endless spiral, trying to piece together any shred of hope for a job. Here are some helpful tips:
-Don’t e-mail the school registrar, find the audition email or the company manager’s email.
-Edit the video to be the exact requirements a company is looking for. Don’t make 1 generic one and just send that, different companies are looking for different things.
-Have good audition photos, remember when auditioning for jobs, second companies, and trainees, you don’t have to do standard audition photos, you can change it up a bit.
-Clean up your social media, and anything else that will allow them to see you dance.

Don’t give up hope! There is nothing wrong with repeating a graduate year, or simply taking a year of training, or going to a smaller company for a couple of years and moving on to a bigger company. With companies really unclear what the future holds, there is nothing wrong with just staying in shape and working on your artistry. But, if patience, money, and time are not on your side, making peace with ballet and moving on isn’t bad either. Just make sure you give it your all before you decide.

Chase Vining of Master Ballet Academy, Photographed by David JW King

If you have questions about auditioning, please email us, or book a consultation.

So, you got those hamburger hands…

In the great debate of hands and hand placement, I realized, hands might most be the most intimate part of ballet. The hands finish the line, the hands direct the audience, the hands create the most intricate negative space on the body. The hands glide into a woman’s waistline, a man offer his hand and a female delicately places her hand into his and a story is created. They might be one of the most beautiful parts of ballet.

hamburger hands ballet

The problem? Not everyone has the most graceful or refined hands… Some of you might have hamburger hands, some of you might have claws, some have oven mitts, extreme pointing up fingers, wiggly fingers or just really awkward stiff hands… A large problem with this is how we approach fine motor skills in ballet. A lot of teachers focus on the larger movements of ballet and forget the subtle refinement of breath in different parts of the lung, eye line, fingers, wrist articulation and scapula rotation; all things that can distinguish a dancer from being a technician and an artist.

So, how do you refine these skills? Just like ballet skill sets, you cross train them. Since my tremor has developed, my hands have become something I have been extremely focused on, and the PT to restrengthen them. Which is what brought along this post.

-If you hold tension in your hands or wrist, refocus the tension into your core.

-Make sure you stretch out your fingers and wrists, and warm them up before class. They are just as important.

-Do exercises like touching each finger to the thumb at different speeds and at different orders.

-Reshape the hand by feeling the energy and shape just in the hand while standing in line waiting for things.

-Shake out your hands constantly and keep the blood moving through the hand.

Flamenco really helps figure out the articulation of the wrist and fingers, if your studio doesn’t offer flamenco, try to take a class outside of your studio. Look at ballroom studios if they offer it as a supplemental class.

Another issue is whether or not to break, relax, flex or elongate the wrist.

The standard is to always keep the line as long as possible, but nowadays we are seeing much more stylize port de bras and hands. If you even look at videos from the top ballet companies in the world, the wrists are becoming more and more broken (i would post pics but don’t own the rights, so just google on your own) and the lines are becoming more and more extreme. I always say the hands and wrist articulation will vary on the role, and I actually don’t believe there is a right way or wrong way to find what looks best on your body. For example, my wrists have extremely ulna ends, making it look like my wrist is always broken. So trying to do the “classical” hand and line looks funky on me. But, when I relax my wrist and I let it break slightly, it is more natural looking and I have more articulation and range. But the shape of my hand can vary depending on the role and choreography.


SHOP A BALLET EDUCATION

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