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Ballet Austin Recruits Dancers for 2010/11 season

Two weeks ago, Stephen Mills and I traveled to New York to conduct the first of six national auditions to recruit dancers for the 2010/11 performance season. Over the coming weeks we will see over 400 dancers in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Austin, each of them vying for employment with Ballet Austin or Ballet Austin II. As most ballet companies offer seasonal contracts, each dancer is essentially a free agent and this annual audition “pilgrimage” is the traditional vehicle for recruitment in our industry. Some dancers will be hoping to transition from a current job, while others will be looking for their first professional contract.

Often referred to as “cattle calls,” these auditions can be an intense and intimidating experience, regardless of which side of the room you’re standing on. In the context of a single ballet class, each dancer has 90 minutes to distinguish themselves from the other hundred bodies competing for attention.  Identified only by a number pinned to the front of their dance clothes, their goal is to rise above the anonymity…to draw attention for all the right reasons.

And our goal is to figure out what those right reasons are…to envision Number 46 standing in our studio at the Butler Dance Education Center, blending into the corps de ballet in Swan Lake on Monday, and on Tuesday bringing creative ideas to the collaborative process of making new work. It is a daunting challenge though, apparently, not insurmountable…as Stephen and I remind ourselves frequently, we have gotten this right quite a few times as each of the dancers on our current Ballet Austin and Ballet Austin II was once an anonymous number…drawing our attention for all the right reasons.

For more information on the Company Dancers, click here.


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