Updated: May 7, 2020
Following a rigorously rocky two years of auditions, multiple rejections and so many lessons learned, I can finally say that I did it. Following nearly 6 months guesting with the SemperOper Ballett, as of next season (17/18) I will be joining the SemperOper Ballett as a full Corps de Ballet member.
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I am going to talk you through how the past two years panned out for me but also offer a few tips of things I WISH I had been told back when I was in school or even earlier in my career.
My journey to move on started back in my 15/16 season at the Romanian National Ballet. After auditions for a total of
15 companies and no job offers, I took the decision to return to the Romanian National Ballet despite the turbulent end to the season there. I got a job as a waitress at an independent cinema to get me through another unpaid summer (something I had had to do every summer so far in my career) and I returned to Bucharest in September.
I started auditioning just 3 weeks into the new season, with signs that the company had only plummeted back further than when I had arrived 4 years earlier. In October, I sent out 50 email applications writing an individual email to each director asking to be considered for an audition or even just to attend company class. From that 50, I received 18 responses and was invited to attend 11 auditions, with 32 applications going unanswered. It is not uncommon not to be given feedback, even after audition. In fact, unless you are whittled down to the final few or attend a private audition, rarely will you get feedback at all. If you are a dancer you will most probably know how completely gruelling they are and if you are not, then count yourself lucky.
In December, I made the bold decision to resign from my position at the Romanian National Ballet and had set up to take class at a few companies in Europe through friends and family, and try to ‘get by’ until I received another contract. Out of 11 audition invitations I attended 8, cancelling a few auditions after an offer to join the SemperOper Ballet as a guest for two programs.
This was a far better year for successes of being invited for private auditions and I am sure it is down to the personal emails to each director. That paired with calling in contacts and favours from any friends, colleagues or previous guest teachers, ballet masters, choreographers, repetitures, anyone I could think of.
Tips I Have
1. Personalise your application. If you were an employer and you received an application with ‘To whom it may concern’ at the top and had been sent along with email addresses of 12 other employers, would that say to you that that candidate was really eager for the job that you personally are offering? I doubt it. It takes no time at all to look on their website or YouTube channel and see what catches your eye, whether it’s a triple bill program, a new choreographer or even a tour location. Find a couple of things and talk about them as points of interest in your email. You will find things that overlap between certain companies so you can reuse if it’s appropriate.
2. Contacts are key, it really is all about who you know, 5 of the responses/auditions I received are due to people I had called on to help me in. You never know who you will need to call on in the future and nobody should be ruled out so look after the contacts you make, they are invaluable.
3. Always follow up after an audition. If you were looking for a new employee and the came for an audition/interview and they weren’t quite right or the timing wasn’t and you let them go. If you never hear from them again then they didn’t really want the job did they, either that or they are unprofessional when it comes to rejections or setbacks in which case you probably wouldn’t want them on board anyway. But if you followed up an audition with an email just to say thank you and please consider me in the future should circumstances change, then they might just do that. I have been contacted with offers of guesting opportunities following unsuccessful auditions because I have been persistent in following up and making sure I am not forgotten. There is a fine line to becoming annoying, don’t cross it.
Those are just a few key things that were golden to me this year and played a big part in getting me where I am now.
I was hired at SemperOper Ballett for Watkin’s Swan Lake and Balanchine’s Symphony in C which took me to early June. In April, I was offered to stay on as a guest for next season until a full contract became available, and this week I have been offered that contract which I have gladly and whole heartedly accepted. I cannot wait for this next chapter and now the work really begins!
What I believe now is that you should trust the process, good things come to those who wait (whilst working) and hard work trumps all.
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