When Lilliana Hagerman auditioned for Orlando Ballet School’s
summer intensive, she felt over whelm-ingly intimidated. “The other dancers were
all so beautiful,” remembers Hagerman,
now a dancer with Kansas City Ballet. “I
thought that if I made one mistake it would
be over.” Hagerman did make a mistake:
She slipped and fell during grand allégro. “I
got back up and I smiled,” she says. To her
relief, the teacher smiled back.
Summer intensive auditions give
you only a few moments to make a good
impression—often while crammed into a
crowded room, after traveling distances
in the car and with little time or space to
warm up. It’s hard not to obsess over a
small mistake or feel discouraged if you’re
put on the intensive’s waitlist after wards.
But according to school directors, many of
your fears are overreactions. Here are a few
of the most common audition misconceptions, along with what’s really going on
inside the teachers’ heads.
Every mistake counts against me.
Not so. Ballet Austin Academy director Bill
Piner notes that he doesn’t judge auditioning students with a simple checklist.
(Double pirouette? Check. Leg above 90
degrees? Check.) While he is interested in a
dancer’s technical abilities, he is also looking at their potential. “We like to see how
they approach their classwork,” he says.
“How thoughtful are they? How quickly are
they able to take information and correc-
tions and apply them?”
After Hagerman fell in her audition
in Orlando, she was still accepted. She
attended the summer program for several
years, eventually becoming an Orlando
Ballet trainee, second-company member
and then a full-company member before
accepting her contract with Kansas City
Ballet. For her, the smile she exchanged
with the teacher as she got up was key.
“How you recover from a mistake is very
important,” she says. “If you get back up and
just keep pushing for ward, they see that.”
Even professional dancers at the height
of their careers make mistakes. How you
handle them is as crucial as good technique
If I ask a question, I’ll look stupid.
“It is always okay to ask a question, as long
as it is relevant to the combination that we
are doing,” says Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
School co-director Marjorie Grundvig.
“We would rather you ask a question and
be secure about what you are going to do
than feel insecure.” The key here is that
your question be applicable, necessary and
thoughtful. Make sure that the auditioner
is in fact finished setting the combination
n Take Master Classes with Irina Kolpakova
Open World Dance Foundation’s five-day winter workshop in New York
City is a boot camp in Vaganova technique—and a chance to learn from
a student of Agrippina Vaganova herself. The legendary Irina Kolpakova,
the former Mariinsky Ballet star who has coached the likes of Maria
Kochetkova, Isabella Boylston and Paloma Herrera at American Ballet
Theatre, will lead variations classes following two-hour master classes in
Vaganova technique and pointework.
“Working with Irina Kolpakova raises your artistry and understanding of classical ballet to a new level,” says OWDF co-founder Ekaterina
Shchelkanova, citing Kolpakova’s focus on musicality and artistic expression in addition to technique. OWDF’s midwinter session is a chance to
assess your training and reboot your motivation before heading into the
spring semester. It takes place February 20–24 and is recommended for
students ages 13 and older. All dancers are encouraged to audition, either
in person on February 19 or by video submission (deadline February 1)
to email@example.com. For more information visit
openworlddancefoundation.com. —Hannah Foster
Some of your biggest summer
program audition fears are
By Kathleen McGuire
Grundvig leading an