Dance Training & Career Tips
How to Train for a Career on Broadway
Are you dreaming of seeing your name up in lights on Broadway? You’re not alone. Thousands of aspiring musical theater talents converge on New York each year hoping to make their mark as a star on Broadway – or simply to be cast in a supporting role or as part of a company. Not all of them will be successful. So what makes the difference between someone who makes it on Broadway and who does not?
Often, the hiring decisions come down to training and experience. So how do you train for a career on Broadway? Here are five tips we’ve acquired from training hundreds of Broadway artists.
Learn from the Best
If you’re wondering how to train for a career on Broadway, it all starts with high quality musical theater training. There are a number of ways to get this training: BFA and MFA degree programs at the college or university level are one way to get started. These programs will offer classroom theory as well as performance experience and are how many in musical theater get their start.
Another great training option are musical theater summer intensives such as the Joffrey Ballet School’s Musical Theater intensives. Our Musical Theater intensives aren’t just focused on dance – we also help you gain other skills; you’ll receive acting training and vocal coaching, audition prep, performance study and more from some of Broadways top performers. And of course, our Musical Theater summer intensives include dance training in ballet, tap and jazz from some of the world’s top instructors.
If you’re looking to go even further with your training and are a recent high school or college graduate (or soon to be graduate), pre-professional training can also be helpful to train you for a career on Broadway. Joffrey Ballet School’s year round Jazz and Contemporary pre-professional training program offers musical theater instruction that can set you on your way to a career on Broadway. Our graduates are highly sought after as cast members in Broadway and off-Broadway musical theater productions, and many of them come back to us as instructors to “pay it forward” by helping the next generation of artists.
Regardless of the training route you choose, it’s important to realize that what your training offers is not just learning how to dance, sing and act in musical theater. It’s learning how to be effective as part of an ensemble. You’re there to learn what goes into a production and how to be a strong contributor within that. And you’re there to make connections that can pave the way for your future success.
Become a Triple Threat
Broadway productions are the gold standard for musical theater productions: opportunities are extremely limited and the number of people vying for those jobs is high. That makes for an extremely competitive job market. A recent survey of data provided to Playbill by Broadway musical theater productions over the course of one year found that there were about 870 ensemblists (supporting actors, singers and dancers) working on new and continuing Broadway productions. The number of principals, of course, is even smaller.
Because Broadway jobs are so scarce, you want to do everything you can to improve your chances of being selected. One way to increase your chances of being hired is by bringing multiple talents to the table. So regardless of what your primary skill or talent is, whether it’s dance, singing or acting, it’s worthwhile to expand your comfort zone and become capable in other disciplines as well. You don’t have to be the next Kristen Chenoweth, but the ability to hold a tune, even if your main interest is dance or acting, increases your chances of being hired.
Be Professional in Your Search
Performing on Broadway isn’t that different than any other career: first impressions make a difference, so you want to make sure those impressions are professional. After all, an artist is only as good as their tools, and that is true in musical theater as well.
The tools, when it comes to a job search on Broadway, are professional looking headshots, an up to date curriculum vitae and recent video clips. Keeping these up to date and on hand at all times go a long way toward making the right impression – because when opportunities come up, you want to be ready to act on them right away. This is one of the benefits you’ll get through professional training such as Joffrey’s pre-professional trainee programs: we set up these opportunities for you so that you have everything you need to make a professional impression.
It’s not just about having the right tools for the job, though. It’s also about having the right attitude. Remember that no matter how talented you are, on Broadway you will be surrounded by other talented people, so talent alone isn’t always what gets you the job. Often, an even bigger factor is your reputation and the connections you’ve made along the way. Whether you call it networking, or simply making friends, the relationships you develop in your training classes, summer stock and other experiences will play a big role in helping you build your career on Broadway.
Lastly, there’s the question of professional representation. Do you need an agent? Our answer is that while it’s not mandatory to have an agent, it is certainly helpful. Broadway is the upper echelon of the musical theater world, and the best jobs can be hard to find unless it’s your full time job to be searching. Because of their industry connections, agents are often the first to hear when a Broadway production needs talent. The best agents also have long standing relationships with producers that may allow them to go to bat for their clients to help them land the job. And great agents can also provide career guidance and support. In a highly competitive career as a Broadway musical theater artist, having a great agent is a distinct advantage.
No Teacher Like Experience
Lastly, when it comes to the performing arts, there’s simply no teacher like experience. And it would be a challenge to get a job on Broadway without it. So gaining experience wherever you can should be a major part of your focus if you’re training for a career on Broadway. That’s why Joffrey Ballet School’s musical theater summer intensives and year round pre-professional training programs have such a strong focus on providing performance experience. They’re a great way to get your start in musical theater.
But school productions – whether it’s a high school or college musical, or one affiliated with a dance or theater school – are not the only types of experience you should be seeking to gain. Summer stock productions, community and regional theater, touring companies, and off-Broadway productions are all tried and true places to gain the experience and make the connections that will help you land that first job on Broadway.
Register to Audition with Joffrey Today
If you want to learn how to train for a career on Broadway, look no further than Joffrey’s musical theater intensives. You’ll gain the training and performance experience to take your musical theater skills to the Broadway stage! Register with us today!
How to Become a Cirque du Soleil Performer
Running off to join the circus isn’t what it used to be. No longer are circuses the refuge of those with a past they want to avoid! In fact, it’s just the opposite – it takes experience and amazing skills to become a performer in today’s circuses – especially Cirque du Soleil and similar “cirque arts” shows.
With dozens of shows and touring companies, and more than 1,300 performers from diverse backgrounds, Cirque du Soleil shows are some of the most exciting and dynamic opportunities in entertainment today. So if you’re wondering how to become a Cirque du Soleil performer, you’re not alone. Circus arts offers unique – and highly competitive – opportunities for dancers, singers, acrobats and other entertainers. Learn more about how to become a Cirque du Soleil performer from Joffrey Ballet School!
About Cirque du Soleil
Cirque du Soleil is an amazing opportunity for dancers and other entertainers because of its rapid growth and the diversity of the shows it puts on. As one of the fastest growing entertainment groups and largest live theater companies in the world, Cirque du Soleil employs performers from a variety of backgrounds: dancers, singers, clowns, gymnasts and acrobats, figure skaters…even bicyclists! Here’s what it takes to become a Cirque du Soleil performer.
Talent, Tenacity and Training
If we had to boil down our advice about how to become a Cirque du Soleil performer to three “musts” it would be talent, tenacity and training.
Talent is the first requirement to become a Cirque du Soleil performer because Cirque du Soleil specifically hires performers to bring a particular entertainment skillset, such as dance, an athletic talent or other skill, to each show. And, they’re not just looking for dancers who can dance en pointe, or acrobats that can do flips. They’re seeking those whose talent is truly extraordinary – the standouts in their discipline.
In terms of dance performers, Cirque du Soleil hires dancers with strong technique, an extensive repertoire and a great stage presence. Two other factors they look for are an open mind and a readiness to learn – because this isn’t strictly a dance gig: it’s entertainment. That means doing whatever it takes to bring that wow factor.
Tenacity is also critical for a Cirque du Soleil performer because it takes a lot of persistence to get the job, and to keep it. The audition process is rigorous, as is the training period and rehearsals that go into every show. Audience expectations are high, so the workload that goes into creating a show that lives up to the Cirque du Soleil name night after night is also high. It can take years of training to achieve the level of skills required to become a Cirque du Soleil performer.
Finally, Cirque du Soleil entertainers need extensive training to bring that “wow!” factor every single night. Much of Cirque du Soleil’s reputation is built on word of mouth from audiences who were so entertained by what they saw that they recommended the show to others. This means performers must bring an amazing set of skills, not just in their primary talent, but in additional circus arts like clowning, miming, acrobatics, juggling, aerials and equilibristics – the art of balancing, whether on a unicycle, a tightrope, or other apparatus.
Get Your Cirque Arts Training with Joffrey Ballet School
In addition to the training involved in your primary “talent,” such as dance, Cirque du Soleil performers are increasingly pursuing training in these traditional circus arts. One of the best such programs is Joffrey Ballet School’s excellent Cirque Arts summer intensives in Las Vegas.
Attending a specialized circus arts training program allows you to be introduced to and safely learn the skills that circus arts and Cirque du Soleil productions seek. Joffrey partners with Cirque du Soleil to present our Las Vegas Cirque Arts summer intensive. Artistic Directors Matthew Prescott and Maximilien Baud lead the intensive in partnership with Cirque du Soleil’s Tiffany Baker, dance supervisor of the Michael Jackson “ONE” show, as well as other Cirque du Soleil performers.
The Cirque Arts intensive is offered for one or two week sessions at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and the circus gymnasium L’Oracle. You’ll learn a variety of circus arts, from acrobatics, clowning and aerials, to juggling, balance, dance and more. You’ll watch live performances of Cirque du Soleil’s acclaimed productions of “O” and “Mystere.” And you’ll make friends and connections that can help make your dreams of joining Cirque du Soleil a reality.
Take the Next Step to Become a Cirque du Soleil Performer!
Are you ready to take the next step toward becoming a Cirque du Soleil Performer? Contact Joffrey Ballet School today to register for an audition to attend our Cirque Arts Summer Intensive! You’ll have the time of your life and get the skills needed to bring that wow factor to your future career as a Cirque du Soleil or cirque arts performer.
Four Reasons Why a Summer Dance Intensive is Safer than a Dance Competition
As states across the country begin looking at reopening their economies and returning to normal life activities, it’s time to begin asking what activities you will participate in when quarantine lifts in your area. For many dancers, this means making decisions about which dance activities are safest to participate in. Is a summer dance intensive still a safe option? Or would a dance competition be safer?
When determining the safety of any activities during this challenging time, a few of the things to consider are the number of people to whom you will be exposed, the facilities where the activities will be held, and the overall cleanliness of the activity. Will social distancing guidelines be observed, or will that even be possible given the environment? From a financial perspective it’s also important to determine what happens if an activity is unable to be held.
Based on these considerations, here are a few reasons why we believe a summer dance intensive is a safer option for dancers this summer than a dance competition or contest.
- Limited Class Sizes – at Joffrey Ballet School, our intensives are limited to class sizes of only about 25 students. We hold our intensives in large studio spaces, which generally make it possible for us to observe appropriate social distancing of approximately 6 to 10 feet of space between each student. You will only be exposed to these dancers and those you may interact with in the dorms for the duration of a week (or more) long intensive. In a dance competition, on the other hand, as many as 500 to 1,000 individual dancers and teams will share the stage and venue with limited time between numbers. Through the course of a competition day, you could be exposed to hundreds of other dancers, audience members, judges and others, making a competition a potentially riskier activity in terms of virus spread than a smaller intensive. Overnight stays in hotels could expose you even more.
- Effective Sick Policies – A major disadvantage of a dance competition is that dancers may be so motivated to compete and win that they may not self-isolate if they begin experiencing symptoms of illness. There’s no guarantee that anyone will be checking contestants and others as they enter the venue to ensure they aren’t exhibiting a fever or other symptoms. Most competitions don’t have a policy to ensure that dancers who are ill are kept away if they are symptomatic. At Joffrey, if one of our dancers is ill, they are required to stay in the dorm until their symptoms improve. If they are displaying symptoms of Coronavirus, parents will be notified in order to make arrangements to return home or make decisions about medical assistance.
- Clean Facilities – Before each intensive and between each class, Joffrey staff diligently clean and disinfect all practice and performance spaces to ensure that our facilities are as clean as possible. This includes wiping down all floors, barres, mirrors, door knobs and surfaces in general, after each class with medical grade sanitizer. We also partner with third party organizations such as universities for our housing and food service options. These facilities are also kept clean and disinfected by those organizations to restrict disease transmission. At a crowded dance competition with hundreds or thousands in attendance, there’s no way to ensure that facilities are kept clean and disease free at all times.
- Insurance to Protect Tuition / Fees – Most dance competitions are unable to process refunds in the event that a competition can’t be held due to social distancing regulations. And there’s no insurance policy that can protect your entrance fees. At Joffrey, we’ve solved this problem by partnering with A+ Program Protection to provide insurance to protect our dancers’ and their families’ investments should we be forced to cancel a summer intensive session. Just $99 safeguards your tuition and travel expenses if a dancer or their parents loses their job, becomes ill or are unable to attend our intensives. Pandemic and epidemic claims ARE INCLUDED. However, please note that we are unable to process refunds due to our contractual obligations to the third party organizations that host our intensives. Therefore, we strongly recommend purchasing insurance for any summer dance intensives you consider attending this summer.
At Joffrey, we understand how challenging it is for dancers and their families to determine what the best course of action is for summer plans. But when considering the evidence about limited class sizes, facility cleaning, sick policies and insurance, it’s clear that a summer dance intensive is a safer option than a dance competition.
Why be crammed into a competition venue with hundreds of other dancers, parents, judges and observers when you can attend a week-long dance intensive with just 25 other students and a renowned master instructor who provides one-on-one corrections to help you improve? Register today to audition online for one of our summer dance intensives across the country, and get ready to have the best summer of your life!
Joffrey’s Guide to the Top Ten Colleges and Universities for Musical Theater
If you’re a high school dancer dreaming of a future in musical theater it’s never too soon to be thinking about how you’ll reach those goals. For most performers, a career in musical theater starts with professional training at the college level. And that starts with choosing a school and making some big decisions about the kind of training experience you’d like to have. Do you want to focus mainly on dance training? Or are you hoping to become a “triple threat” performer? Do you want to focus on performance or are you seeking a college experience that allows you to explore other interests alongside your musical theater training?
In this article we’ll give you some food for thought to help in your decision, and provide our top ten musical theater colleges, conservatories and universities.
How to Decide Between College, University or Conservatory for Musical Theater?
Deciding which kind of school makes the most sense for studying musical theater depends on your personal academic and performance goals. Many top performers across the country come from conservatories, while many others come from liberal arts colleges and universities. There’s no one way to reach your musical theater goals. There are, however, a few rules of thumb that can guide your decision.
For students whose main educational focus is on developing dance skills to become a musical theater performer, a conservatory or dance school may offer the best curriculum to develop those skills. Often these schools are located in noted musical theater hubs such as New York, Los Angeles or other large cities around the country, allowing students to begin auditioning for professional performance engagements even before graduation.
On the other hand, for students whose focus is on becoming a “triple threat,” or pursuing other academic interests and passions in addition to their interest in musical theater, a university or liberal arts college might be a better option. This track also offers more flexibility to allow for students’ multiple interests.
For students interested in any of the liberal arts – writing, languages, history, art or even mathematics or science – a liberal arts college offers a broad education that will inform your theater studies while preparing you for a career or further academic study. Often these colleges also have strong music programs that can work in tandem to provide vocal and musical training for musical theater performers.
For students with academic or career interests outside theater, such as business or engineering, a public or state university might offer a broader range of study options, in addition to strong musical theater training programs. Public universities are also less expensive than conservatories or private colleges.
Here are our top ten options for musical theater colleges in the United States.
Conservatories for Musical Theater
Joffrey Ballet School – Joffrey’s four year trainee program in Jazz and Contemporary Dance offers the ability to earn your BFA through our partnership with New Jersey City University while gaining the skills to become a musical theater performer. Our curriculum includes thousands of hours of dance instruction and opportunities to perform in world class venues. Many of our students gain artist representation and opportunities to audition for professional musical theater productions before graduation, unlike college or university programs where you won’t have time to perform professionally until you’ve graduated. Another benefit is that our program accepts younger dancers seeking to earn their high school diploma and BFA simultaneously.
NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts – Although NYU is a large private liberal arts college, its Tisch School of the Arts operates as a conservatory within the school focused on performing, cinematic and media arts. It’s one of the nation’s leading schools for musical theater, with instruction around dance, acting, writing for musical theater, and much more.
Boston Conservatory – As with ballet, Boston Conservatory is at the top of any list when it comes to conservatories for musical theater training. However, it’s key to keep in mind that as with their ballet program, Boston Conservatory isn’t strictly dance training focused. They also require students to complete a number of liberal arts requirements.
Public and State Universities
University of Arizona – A sunny climate and a nationally ranked musical theater program are just a couple of reasons why University of Arizona’s musical theater BFA program is popular with students. Among the factors that set U of A apart when it comes to musical theater training is the school’s focus not just on musical theater, dance and the American songbook, but also on dramatic acting.
Penn State – Although “Happy Valley” is perhaps best noted for its football programs, Penn State also has a fantastic musical theater program. Penn State’s Musical Theater BFA program is a professional training program that focuses on all three aspects of musical theater – singing, dancing and acting.
University of Michigan – Michigan was one of the first musical theater BFA programs offered by a state university. In fact, the program at Arizona is modeled on the one pioneered at Michigan. Michigan’s Musical Theater BFA program offers an intense, conservatory-style musical theater training experience.
Cal State Fullerton – Most of the 33 colleges and universities in the UC and CSU college systems offer BA programs in theater, drama or television and film production. Fullerton is one of the few in either system to offer a BFA in musical theater, ranked in the top 20 in the nation by Performing Arts Guide. Its location near Disneyland, Hollywood and downtown LA means that students will have opportunities to seek representation and even professional performance opportunities to build their resumes while they are still in school. Another good option for musical theater in the LA area is UC Irvine, which offers a BA in musical theater.
Private and Liberal Arts Colleges
Carnegie Mellon or Pace University – It may be cheating to include two schools in the place of one on the list but both of these schools make the list for the same reasons. Both are among the nation’s top liberal arts colleges that offer a musical theater BFA program. Both offer excellent “triple threat” programs with strong focus on vocal, acting and dance training. And both are located in the Big Apple, which means students will be studying right in the heart of America’s musical theater capital, with opportunities to watch and even participate in professional productions before they graduate.
Elon University – If you’re seeking a small town college experience, with great liberal arts programs and a well-respected musical theater program, Elon might be a great fit. Elon University is located in Elon, NC, not far from Greensboro and Raleigh. The Musical Theater BFA program only accepts about 16 to 20 students each year to a program that requires students to complete 4 years of voice instruction, 3 years of acting and 4 years of dance, plus courses on musical theater history, literature and performance.
University of Cincinnati College & Conservatory of Music – CCM, as it is known, is one of the best known programs in the Midwest for studying musical theater. It was one of the first colleges in the country to offer a musical theater BFA, and is focused on providing extensive training in dance, acting and voice to develop triple threat performers. A rigorous production schedule of 5 performances per season along with senior showcases mean that students receive plenty of opportunities to perform in student productions.
Admission by Audition
Admissions to these programs are all highly competitive, and not based solely on grades and experience. Your audition plays a big role as well, so you’ll want to prepare carefully to show the selection committee your best skills. If you’re serious about dance and are ready to take the next step in your musical theater career, register online today to audition with us! We’d love to meet you and help you achieve your Broadway musical theater dreams!
How to Be a Professional Dancer in 5 (Not So Easy) Steps
Professional dancers come from many walks of life, with different sets of experience and backgrounds. Some have been studying ballet since shortly after taking their first steps. Others begin dancing as tweens or teens and soon find themselves consumed with dreams of dancing for a living. But regardless of how you get started, there are 5 steps you’ll need to follow if your goal is to become a professional dancer.
Train with the Best
If your goal is to become a professional dancer, the quality of training you receive will make or break your chances of making it as a professional. Many dancers start their careers in local studios or companies, but when you become serious about turning professional, it’s time to look for the best training you can find.
That’s where Joffrey Ballet School’s pre-professional training comes in. Our pre-professional dance trainee program is a full-time course in dance that prepares you for a career as a professional dancer. We offer two tracks: Ballet and Jazz & Contemporary. Both programs provide thousands of hours of dance training, performance preparation and experience, along with classroom instruction in Career Planning; Critical Analysis; Music; Anatomy; Dance History; Health and Nutrition and more.
If your goals are more long term and you’re not quite ready to make the leap into pre-professional training, a summer dance intensive offers an opportunity to enhance your training and gain skills rapidly, without making a full time commitment to training until you’re ready. And it’s a great way to “try on” full time training and find the school that is right for you.
Gain Versatility and Performance Experience
At Joffrey, one of our mottoes for our pre-professional trainees is to “be the dancer that has it all.” What we mean is that a professional dancer needs more than just strong technical skills in a single discipline to be successful as a professional dancer.
Why is versatility so important? It used to be the case that dancers focused mainly on a single discipline because that is what the majority of roles required. Today, dance productions tend to be more “multi-disciplinary,” often incorporating multiple styles and disciplines in a single production or role. For instance, a ballet dancer could be called upon to incorporate elements of classical, modern and Latin dance in a role. The dancer who will be hired for that role is going to be the one with the training to excel in all of those disciplines.
So, when developing yourself as a dancer, look for opportunities to gain versatility and experience that could benefit you later by being willing to try new things and step outside the box. A summer dance intensive is a great way to do this, and that’s why Joffrey offers intensives in so many different styles.
With us, you can study classical or contemporary ballet, latin dance, jazz, tap or hip-hop. You’ll gain performance experience in our in-studio performances and student showcases in professional venues. You’ll gain versatility in a short period of time that you’ll need in your future professional career, and who knows? You just might discover a new passion in the process.
Have Realistic Expectations
One of the toughest decisions a dancer has to make is to determine which career preparation track to follow: studying dance at a college or university, or enrolling in some form of pre-professional training. There are pros and cons to both forms of training: college might allow you to pursue other options as well as dance, providing a backup plan of sorts for when your dance career ends.
Yet, while a backup plan is nice, dancers also have to accept that dance is also a time-limited career, one that favors younger dancers. Finishing high school and college, followed by a year or two of pre-professional study puts you well into your twenties by the time you finish. Most dancers will retire when the wear and tear on their bodies takes its toll, usually in their 30s or 40s if they are fortunate. For dancers that choose the college track, that means a career of 10 to 15 years, at best, plus being at a possible disadvantage compared to the dancers who got their start younger, when their bodies were stronger and more resilient.
By combining high school completion and pre-professional training, dancers can extend their careers on stage and get a much younger start, but there is a risk if their careers come to a premature end due to injury or other factors – or never really get started at all.
For these reasons, dancers need to be realistic and ask themselves the tough questions about their ultimate life and career goals. Are you willing to forego the college experience in order to extend your career and improve your dance prospects? Do you have a plan for what you will do when that career ends? Dancers who want to make it as a professional need to consider not just their dance career, but their ultimate life goals.
Put Together a Professional Portfolio
Okay, so let’s say you’ve got the training. You’ve got the talent. You’ve got the versatility. And you’ve asked the hard questions about your chosen career path. You’re ready to take the next steps. That means putting together a professional dance portfolio.
At Joffrey, we offer career planning and work with our pre-professional trainees as they near the end of their time with us to put together their portfolio. The portfolio includes a resume or CV (short for curriculum vitae) and professional headshots. Dancers should also curate what used to be called a dance “reel”; a video of dance clips showing your best skills. These can be shared electronically via file sharing apps, on a disk or thumb drive as a video audition.
Your resume should include your name, contact information (phone and email), a complete listing of your dance training and education, your representation (if you have an agent) and your union status. You should also list your training and performance experience: all schools attended, years of training and levels attained with each school, and specify your performance experience and roles. Dance competition experience and placement should be included as well.
For your headshot, professional photography and makeup is also very helpful. And while your dance clips don’t have to be professionally produced, you’ll make the best impression if they are well lit, well produced and show your dancing off to best advantage.
Take Care of Your Body
Remember when we said that the average dancer’s professional career would likely end in their 30s or 40s? That’s one of the hardest truths about choosing to become a professional dancer: your time on stage will likely come to an end sooner than you might wish. Often, this will happen because your body simply can’t handle the strain as you get older.
However, the good news is that while aging is inevitable, you’re not helpless against it. You can extend your career through careful attention to your nutrition and conditioning throughout your career. Younger dancers benefit from the fact that the human body typically gains muscle through one’s teens and twenties. However, at around age 30, this starts to change quickly as the body begins to lose muscle mass at a pace of about 3% to 5% per year.
So if you want to be as strong as possible in the later portion of your career, don’t delay in paying attention to diet and strength conditioning.
Be the Dancer that Has it All With Joffrey
Training, experience and versatility, realistic expectations, a professional portfolio and a commitment to nutrition and conditioning are just five of the factors you need to make it as a professional dancer. If you’re ready to learn more about how to succeed in this career path, contact Joffrey today to learn more about our pre-professional training and summer dance intensives.
What is a Pre-Professional Dancer?
As dancers progress past the intermediate and advanced levels, the question of “what’s next?” begins to rear its head. For those thinking of a career in dance, becoming a pre-professional dancer and entering a pre-professional training program is often the answer.
But what is a pre-professional dancer? What sets pre-professional dancers apart from the others? And how do you know if you’re ready to train at the pre-professional level? We cover these topics and more in today’s blog post.
What is a Pre-Professional Dancer?
A pre-professional dancer is, quite simply, a dancer who is training full time to become a professional dancer. At Joffrey, we also call them our full time trainees.
Dance is a unique career that thrusts young dancers into professional opportunities at a much younger age than most other professions. Unlike other career paths, a career in dance isn’t dependent on receiving a diploma or college degree. It does depend, however, on having the right mix of talent, connections and training to prepare for a successful career in dance.
You supply the talent; pre-professional dance training programs supply the connections and training.
Pre-professional dance training is essentially vocational or career training. Trainees audition and are selected by a school that provides pre-professional training to prepare students for dance careers. This training is generally offered through conservatories or schools affiliated with dance companies, or through an independent school of dance such as Joffrey Ballet School.
Am I Ready for a Pre-Professional Training Program?
Generally speaking, pre-professional dancers have already been training in some form of dance for several years and have passed through the beginner through advanced levels at their current dance school or studio. They may have performance experience through their current school or a local dance company, or they may be experienced competition dancers who’ve had success individually or as part of a team.
Once dancers reach this level, they may be nearing the end of their learning opportunities with their current dance instructors or coaches. In order to continue progressing, they need to look beyond their local studio or school for continued instruction. It is at this point that dancers will begin to consider their pre-professional training options.
Some signs that you might be ready for a pre-professional training program:
- You’re currently dancing at a high intermediate or advanced level.
- You’re between the ages of 12 and 20.
- You have a passion for dance – you live, eat and breathe it (or wish that you could).
- You’re tough – auditions and long days in the studio not only don’t scare you…you secretly love them because you know they make you a better dancer.
- You’re talented. Maybe your dance instructor is telling you to think about going pre-professional, or maybe you’ve won your share of dance competitions and are ready for a new challenge. Either way, you’re talented and you know it.
Questions to Ask About Pre-Professional Dance Training
Of course, just because you have the training and talent to go pre-professional doesn’t mean that it’s the right path for you, or that any school will do. Some questions to ask include:
- What about high school? Unlike college and other paths that require you to complete your high school diploma, a pre-professional dancer can begin studying dance full time even before completing high school. However, you’ll still need to be enrolled in a degree program to earn a diploma or completion certificate. At Joffrey, our pre-professional dance training program allows you to gain your high school completion certificate. Depending on your age and grade level when you join us, you can even work toward your completion certificate and your BFA while studying dance full time.
- What about college? If you’re a high school graduate (or soon to be one) you should consider whether college might be a better fit. If you have other career aspirations besides dance such as teaching, business or management, or if your goal is to work in the dance field but not necessarily to dance professionally, you should carefully weigh whether college, a conservatory or a pre-professional program like Joffrey that allows you to earn your BFA might be a better route to your goals.
- Where will I live? Most pre-professional dance programs are hosted in schools or companies in large cities like New York. Housing in these cities is quite expensive so you will need to consider what living arrangements will be available to you. Some schools, like Joffrey, have their own dorms where dance trainees can live. Others may have hosting arrangements with local families. Some programs may require dancers to rent or share an apartment – this is by far the most expensive option.
- How will I decide on a school? Each school and company that offers pre-professional training has its own unique area of focus and its own feel. Some are focused solely on ballet, others on contemporary or modern dance forms. Some, like Joffrey, offer both. Some programs are more formal, some are highly competitive, while others feel like family (we like to think Joffrey falls into the latter category). A great way to determine which school is right for you is to attend a summer dance intensive.
- How will I pay? Like a private high school or college, the expenses related to pre-professional dance training can be high. Tuition itself can be expensive; when you factor in room and board in cities like New York the cost is even higher. To offset this, some schools offer tuition assistance and scholarships.
What if I’m Not Sure?
If you want to dance professionally some day, but you’re not sure you’re ready to go pre-professional just yet, don’t worry. There are low risk ways to explore pre-professional dance training and find out if it’s the right path for you. One way is to participate in a summer dance intensive with a top school like Joffrey Ballet School. In fact, summer intensives are how many of our current and past pre-professional trainees got their start with us.
Joffrey’s summer dance intensives provide a sneak peek into the life of a pre-professional dancer. For a few weeks, you’ll be training full time, living on your own in the dorms and experiencing the rapid improvement in technique and artistry that training with world class instructors and performing alongside other top dancers can deliver. An added benefit is that you’ll meet some of our current crop of pre-professional dancers, who often spend their summers training with us. You’ll make friends and learn first-hand what life as a pre-professional dancer is really like.
Take the Plunge into Pre-Professional Training!
Ready to take the next step and discover life as one of Joffrey’s pre-professional dance trainees? Contact us today for more information about in-person and online auditions.
What to Expect at Your First Summer Dance Intensive
If you’re planning to join Joffrey Ballet School this summer for one of our summer dance intensives, you’re probably wondering what to expect from the experience. A summer dance intensive is a major, often life changing experience for many dancers. It’s an experience full of first times: first time studying dance on a full time basis, first time away from home for an extended period, first time performing in a professional venue.
It’s because of these life changing firsts that our Joffrey Success Stories often share a common thread, which is that the path to becoming a professional dancer truly began that first summer they spent with us working intensively on their craft.
Expect a Challenge
We call them intensives for one simple reason: summer dance intensives are INTENSE. Most young dancers are hard working by nature and are not afraid of a challenge. But most dancers who attend a summer dance intensive for the first time are used to balancing being full time students in school with being part time students at their regular dance studios. They are accustomed to dancing for an hour or two a day, a few times a week.
At a summer dance intensive, this is turned on its head, You will be dancing full time, every day from Monday through Friday. So expect to work hard at your first summer dance intensive!
Expect to Be Independent
Young dancers may have experienced a summer sleepaway camp in the past and had a taste of being independent. But at a summer dance intensive, you’ll be expected to be even more independent than ever before. Because unlike camps in which close supervision is provided 24 hours a day, with few choices as to how to spend one’s free time, most summer dance intensives are held in a more college-style environment.
One example of this independence and responsibility is bedtime. At home, mom and dad may tell you what time to go to bed. At camp, your counselors might tell you when to turn off the lights and go to sleep. But at a summer dance intensive, you’ll have a resident advisor. They’re there in the dorms to provide help when you need it, but RA’s are not camp counselors. They’ll let you decide when it’s time to turn off the lamp and go to sleep.
At a summer dance intensive, you’ll also be in charge of making good decisions about what to eat, when to sleep and how to spend your spare time. And you’ll also be expected to show up to class every morning ready to focus and work on your craft.
Expect to Learn Inside and Outside the Studio
At a Joffrey summer dance intensive, you’ll be working with world class instructors from 9am to 5pm each day. Your class load will be balanced between studio dance instruction, performance preparation and classroom instruction, with the vast majority of your time being spent receiving individual correction to perfect your dance technique.
But that’s not all you’ll be doing. At summer dance intensive, not only will you study dance on a full time basis each day, you’ll also have opportunities in your spare time to develop your craft, make connections and educate yourself in the cultural opportunities that your host city has to offer. At Joffrey, our students can watch professional dance and theater performances from some of the finest dance and theater organizations in the world. They can also take advantage of other educational and cultural opportunities such as museums, sporting events and more.
These opportunities could be more limited this summer due to the Coronavirus but you’ll still be learning in your spare time. Our RA’s and instructors will be working hard to make sure that even in this unusual year, our dancers have opportunities to learn, grow as individuals and make friends during their free time.
Expect to Be Sore
Remember how we said that the experience would be intense? The change from part time dance study to full time can be a tough one for your body to handle, so you’ll need to prepare ahead of time. Before attending your first summer dance intensive, spending extra time daily on strength and conditioning, stretching and aerobic conditioning will help to ensure that your body is able to withstand the rigors of a full time dance training schedule without injury.
Expect to Bring Everything With You
Summer dance intensives require you to be independent and responsible. Part of meeting that requirement will be ensuring that you bring all the items you will need with you to the intensive. The packing list for a summer dance intensive doesn’t tend to vary a lot, but your individual, personal needs may. And unlike camps or studying at your home studio, forgotten items will be harder to replace.
Some of the basic items you’ll need include your dance uniform. For our ballet intensives, we require ladies to wear black leotards, pink tights and pink shoes, while the gents are required to wear fitted dance shorts or tights. Other intensives require dance shorts, fitted tees or other dance attire. To confirm what’s required, check the dress code for your intensive.
A key item to consider are dance shoes. You’ll be dancing full time, which means you’ll be going through shoes much faster than usual. So you may want to pack extra dance shoes, especially if you’ll be doing pointe work. And don’t forget to take good care of those shoes while at the intensive! Summer humidity can cause shoes to break down more quickly, but you can extend the life of your pointe shoes by making sure to dry and shape them each night.
As with any trip away from home, you’ll also need to bring your own personal items. Our packing lists include toiletry items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, washcloth and towel, shower shoes, etc. And don’t forget those hair ties: dancers with long hair will need to keep their hair secured in a bun or ponytail.
Unlike a summer camp you usually won’t need to bring a sleeping bag to a summer dance intensive, as bedding is provided with our housing options. You will need to bring a water bottle and yoga mat, as well as any spending money you may need for incidentals while you’re with us.
Register to Dance With Us This Summer
Joffrey summer dance intensives are life changing experiences. The few weeks you spend studying dance full time with us will not only make you a stronger dancer and performer, they’ll also deliver lessons in responsibility, independence and friendships that could last a lifetime. If you’re ready to have the time of your life dancing with us this summer, register today to audition for one of our summer dance intensives.
How to Choose a Pre-Professional Ballet Program
Once upon a time, ballet dancers in their late teens were faced with a choice between dancing professionally or attending college or a conservatory. Now, it’s often high school dancers facing the same choice – continue their high school and college education, or begin their professional dance training and embark on a career as early as possible.
For dancers facing these choices, there’s also a third option: choosing a pre-professional ballet or dance trainee program. A pre-professional ballet program allows young dancers to train for their professional dance career, while also completing their high school graduation requirements.
But how does a dancer choose a pre-professional ballet program?
What to Look for in a Pre-Professional Ballet Program
There are a few obvious things that you should look for when it comes to a pre-professional ballet program: a track record of excellence, top-notch training facilities, opportunities to study under world class instructors and alumni who are achieving success in the professional dance world.
At Joffrey we offer all of these: more than 60 years of history as a top school for ballet training; excellent facilities in New York and Dallas; a faculty composed of some of the best dance professionals from around the world and thousands of alumni dancing professionally on stages and screens all around the globe.
However, as important as these are, there are other criteria that are no less important when it comes to choosing a pre-professional ballet program.
Imagine being hired as a professional dancer to work in a company where every dancer received completely different training and learned completely different approaches to dance. Imagine how difficult it would be for all members of the troupe to work together, or for a director or choreographer to give instructions that would be easily understood by each dancer. It would be frustrating for everyone.
To avoid this situation, it’s important that pre-professional dance training programs be somewhat standardized so that when dancers enter the professional world, they have a similar base of knowledge. This base of knowledge is accomplished through standardizing the curriculum that is taught and making sure that schools operate in similar ways.
So, how do you know if the training provided by a particular pre-professional ballet school will meet these standards? One way is to look for schools that are accredited. Accreditation is an independent review process that ensures a dance school provides training that meets the standards of the reviewing body.
Accreditation also benefits students because it allows schools to transfer credits, recognize each other’s teaching and methods, and ensures that the degree or certificate conferred by the school is meaningful in the professional world. Without accreditation, there’s no guarantee that the credits you earn will be accepted at other schools or colleges.
In the United States, the most recognized and prestigious accreditation for dance schools is from the National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD). Joffrey Ballet School is proud to be an NASD accredited school.
High School or College Credit
Another key consideration when choosing a pre-professional ballet training program is credit. If you’re a younger dancer who hasn’t completed their high school graduation requirements, or who is looking to earn a college degree, you’ll want to choose a pre-professional program that can help you accomplish these goals by offering course credit for your dance training.
Many dance schools offer advanced ballet training, but it is a select few that can offer you the ability to pursue your pre-professional dance training while also completing your academic requirements. This is key, because even if your goal is to become a professional dancer, you have to also accept that each dancer’s time on stage will come to an end eventually – either through retirement, injury or simply personal choice. That’s why it’s a must to have a solid education in addition to your dance training.
At Joffrey Ballet School, we offer a flexible, supportive academic program as part of our full-time trainee programs that allows you to earn high school or college credit while receiving your pre-professional dance training. Younger dancers in our pre-professional program work toward completion of their high school academic requirements; those with two or more years of high school can also work toward their BFA in Dance through our partnership with New Jersey City University.
Flexible, Yet Structured
Training 28 to 32 hours per week as part of our pre-professional dance training program is rigorous enough on its own, but consider that while you are training you also need to be building your curriculum vitae. To differentiate yourself from other dancers with similar backgrounds, you need to seek out additional performance and educational opportunities.
To accomplish this, you need some flexibility to be able to adjust your schedule as needed and to complete your academic coursework on your schedule. A good pre-professional dance training program supports your need for flexibility so that you can pursue these opportunities. A great one advises you on how to balance your academic, dance training and pre-professional pursuits – and even helps you seek out and land some of those “resume builders.”
On the other hand, a pre-professional dance program can’t be so flexible that it leaves dancers with gaps in their training or holes in their education. That’s why you want to find a program that provides flexibility but is still structured enough to provide complete training.
At Joffrey Ballet School, we offer a structured yet flexible pre-professional dance training and academic program through our partnership with the Keystone School. The JBS Blended program uses online learning and hands-on materials to deliver academic course content, individualized attention and academic support to ensure that academic requirements and dance training both receive the attention needed to put you on the path to success.
Take the Next Step in Your Dance Career With Joffrey
Pre-professional training is the bridge between being a serious dance student, and a working professional, so there’s a lot riding on making the right choice for pre-professional dance training. If you’re ready to learn more about becoming a pre-professional trainee with Joffrey, contact us today to talk to our Artistic Directors.
What to Bring to a Summer Dance Intensive
With Covid-19 impacting many people’s daily lives, the questions we normally get about what to bring to a summer dance intensive have taken on a different flavor. It’s true that your 2020 summer dance intensive packing list may include some items you normally wouldn’t bring. Some of those items could be difficult to find in stores or online, and could be subject to shipping delays. So now is the time to start collecting the items on your packing list.
Not to mention, what you need to bring to a summer dance intensive will also be subject to some additional “twists” this year. That’s because your “packing list” may vary depending on when and where your intensive will be held, whether in person or via remote in the comfort of your home. Read on to learn about what to bring to your Joffrey summer dance intensives in this unique time.
June Intensives Via Remote Learning
Our focus, as always, is on the safety and well-being of our dancers, instructors and staff. That’s why we’re working diligently to ensure that our 2020 summer dance intensives meet the highest degree of safety and are in compliance with all national, state and local requirements – while also ensuring that our instruction is of the highest caliber.
To accomplish these goals, some of our June intensives will be provided via remote instruction with our world-renowned staff. Classes will be presented online with live instructors, and dancers will continue to receive personalized technique correction just as they would in our in-studio classes.
- All NYC June sessions have transitioned to remote.
- All Colorado and Georgia sessions have transitioned to remote. Dancers have the option of attending our Dallas intensives if they prefer in-person instruction.
- NYC July and August sessions are available in-person with a remote instruction option in July.
Later in the summer we’ll switch back to our traditional live, in-person format, with some of our July sessions available either in-person or via remote. You can learn more about these changes on our Covid-19 updates page and from our Artistic Directors if you’re registered with us.
However, what’s important to note is that what you’ll need for your summer dance intensive varies based on which session you attend, and whether it’s being held via remote or in person.
What You’ll Need for Joffrey’s 2020 Remote Intensives
If you’re attending one of our remote intensives, the good news is you don’t need to “pack” items since you’ll be attending via Zoom from the comfort of your own home. However, that’s not to say that you won’t need to plan ahead to ensure that you have everything you need. Here is the “packing list” for our remote sessions:
Uniforms: You’ll still be expected to be in uniform, just as if you were attending in person. This makes it easier for our instructors to focus on each dancer, without being distracted by their attire. Check the uniform requirements for your session: our ballet uniform typically requires black leotards and ballet pink tights plus a wrap skirt or character skirt if you’ll be taking character classes. For other intensives, the dress code is more flexible. The good news is you may not need to buy as many uniform items…but you will have to keep up with your laundry.
Dance shoes: You will likely need the same types and number of shoes at home as you would in an in-person class. That means the proper shoes for the type of classes you will be attending (pointe, character, etc.); if you live in a humid region you’ll likely need extra pairs so that your shoes get a chance to dry out.
Appropriate practice space: In order to participate in remote instruction, you’ll need a space where you can practice. Ideally, your space should have a smooth floor (hardwood or marley) and a barre for stretching and barre work.
Cam and tripod:To attend your Joffrey intensive dance classes via remote learning, you’ll need access to a webcam, such as one built into your tablet, smartphone or mobile device. The other optional item is a tripod for mounting your camera to provide a clear view of your dance practice. This will allow the instructor to analyze your technique over Zoom or web streaming apps with minimal distractions. Your artistic director will provide additional technical instructions including any apps you need to download prior to your intensive.
What You’ll Need for Joffrey’s 2020 In-Person Intensives
If your intensive is scheduled for July 1 or later, you’ll probably be joining us in person and we are so looking forward to meeting and working with you! Here are the items you’ll want to bring.
Social Distancing: Our packing list for our intensives typically doesn’t vary much: tights, leotards, dance shoes, etc. But with Covid-19 still a concern across the country, this year’s packing list for our in-person intensives includes a few additional items to help you with maintaining social distance. These items include:
- Face masks – one per day, if worn. If using washable cloth masks, be sure to hand wash in hot soapy water between wearings.
- Hand sanitizer – small bottle to keep in your dance bag.
- Disinfecting wipes – for use in your dorm room. We also provide wipes for use in our studios and practice spaces.
Dance uniforms: Check the uniform requirements for your intensive. Keep in mind that you’ll be dancing for about 6 to 8 hours per day, so you will want a fresh, clean uniform for each day. Also keep in mind that laundry facilities and time to do laundry are limited. You can purchase our branded uniform items online from DiscountDance.
Dance shoes: Proper shoes for the type of classes you will be attending (pointe, character, etc.); bring extra pairs so that your shoes get a chance to dry out between uses. Toe tape and pads, toe separators and gel pads are also a good idea.
Dance bag: Your dance bag should contain your water bottle, small snacks (trail mix, Power Bars, etc.), a small portable first aid kit (band aids, antiseptic wipes, ice pack, Ace bandage ) and a small sewing kit for repairing dance shoes and uniform items. Your bag should also contain a Pilates or yoga mat, resistance bands, your dance and street shoes, and warm-ups or cover ups for street wear.
Personal care items: You’ll want to be extra careful to bring everything you’ll need this year, since maintaining social distance means that sharing or borrowing any personal items is strongly discouraged. Items to pack include pedicure tools, hair restraints (hair spray, ties, bands or nets), laundry detergent for hand or machine washing tights and other items.
First Aid Kit: You will also want to keep a larger first aid kit in your dorm room containing bandaids, muscle ointment, pain relievers, ice pack, heating pad, antiseptic wipes or ointment.
Toiletries: Shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, tooth paste, lotion, Kleenex and a shower bucket, plus makeup if worn. It’s also advisable to bring flip flops to wear in the shower to prevent the spread of athlete’s foot.
Street clothes: You’ll need a few changes of street clothes, including something appropriate to wear to performances or cultural events if possible. Don’t forget to pack pajamas, clean underwear, socks and comfortable shoes (this is not the time for new or uncomfortable shoes, or high heels, as you could get a blister).
Miscellaneous items: Bring from home your own pillow, towels, an alarm clock or smart phone/watch with a built in alarm, and a camera or smartphone with camera. Notecards and postage so you can send a note home is always nice. You may also wish to pack reading material or relaxing activities for use in your off time.
Join Joffrey for the Summer of Your Life!
Although our 2020 summer dance intensives are going to look a little different than they have in the past, we are still looking forward to helping our dancers elevate their skills and take their dance game to the next level.
Now that you know what you need to bring to your summer dance intensives with us, be sure to start gathering everything you need now. And if you’re still waiting to register, don’t delay any longer! Contact Joffrey Ballet School today and get ready to have the time of your life!
What do Ballet Schools Really Look For?
Whether you’re considering an audition for a summer dance intensive, a year round training program, or are simply looking for a new dance studio where you can continue honing your skills, you may be wondering what ballet schools look for when taking on a new dance student.
There is no simple answer to this question as it depends a great deal on the school and the individual artistic director’s preferences. But there are a few physical and mental attributes that AD’s do commonly seek. Here are a few of the things that ballet schools look for when evaluating a potential new student.
Here at Joffrey Ballet School we strive to be accepting of all body types when evaluating students for our summer dance intensives and year round trainee program. However, your “look” can be a significant criteria with many ballet school Artistic Directors. Some do still seek out students and trainees who fit the “long and lean” dancer body type. However, don’t be discouraged if this doesn’t describe you. Especially in modern and contemporary ballet schools, the strong and athletic type is not only appreciated, it’s often preferred.
Even if you naturally do have a slender, elegant “ballerina” body type, it won’t do you much good if you’re not actually strong enough to perform at the level required. In the eyes of most Artistic Directors, strength and stamina trump skinny every time. Ballet schools and dance companies are seeking dancers with the strength and fitness level to perform what are basically Olympian athletic feats: jumps, fouettes, pirouettes, and basically any moves en pointe require an incredible degree of athleticism. So remember that it’s best to put your focus on making your body as strong and flexible as it can be rather than worrying excessively about your weight.
In the eyes of most Artistic Directors, one of the best qualities a dancer can have is “musicality”: a love of music and the ability to “feel” it on the inside while expressing those feelings on the outside. Musicality is a sensitivity to the music that allows you to move in unique ways and make choreography your own. It’s the “je ne sais quois” of dance: the factor that makes you stand out even when performing the same movements as the rest of the class.
The ability to listen and follow instructions is one of the key mental criteria ballet school artistic directors are seeking in a trainee. So when you’re auditioning, make sure to listen carefully to all instructions and do your best to follow them. Most artistic directors will forgive a few mistakes or missteps if they see you are engaged, making eye contact and paying close attention to instructions even if you are unable to reproduce the required steps on your first or even second try.
Despite books and movies featuring diva-like behavior from dancers, a poor attitude isn’t a quality that will endear you to most artistic directors. Nobody wants to spend hours a day working with a dancer whose demeanor is unpleasant. After all, no matter how ridiculously talented, athletic and musical that person may be, their attitude will affect everyone around them. A ready smile and a happy, friendly attitude go a long way toward ingratiating you to most ballet school instructors and artistic directors.
Your mother was right: good manners matter. Ballet school Artistic Directors are extremely observant and they can tell a lot about a dancer by watching how they behave in class. They’re not just watching the lines of your limbs, your footwork or how high you can jump. They are watching to see whether you remember to say thank you to partners, accompanists and instructors at the end of class. They’re watching whether you’re eating or otherwise distracted during class (word to the wise – leave all food, and any drinks other than water outside the audition). And they are also watching to see what you do during downtime in the class – are you working on your combinations, or are you checking your phone?
We’ll give you one guess which one makes the better impression.
It seems like a simple thing but you’d be surprised how often dancers ignore the guidelines for audition attire or send in unprofessional audition headshots. Many ballet schools have dress codes for auditions for a very good reason: so that Artistic Directors can focus on each student’s dancing without being distracted by their choices in clothing. But even if your audition doesn’t have a dress code per se, remember that distracting colors, unruly hair and inappropriate clothing choices all make it more difficult for the dancer underneath to truly shine.
We would also advise you to make sure that your audition headshots are a good quality and accurate representation of you. They don’t have to be shot by a professional, but they should be in focus, well lit, and portray you as you really are: NO photoshopping. And remember to wear your hair in a similar style as you would during an audition, so that Artistic Directors can recognize you.
Lastly, we want to remind you that ballet schools are looking for dancers with something unique to bring to the table, who have the ability to be versatile and who are willing to learn new things. That means that even if you don’t feel that you have the perfect body, or the perfect training background, you should walk into each audition with a smile on your face and a belief in yourself. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be you. If you have a positive attitude, listen well and give it your all, you just may find that what ballet schools are looking for is you!
Register with Joffrey Today!
At Joffrey Ballet School, we are always looking for dancers with the versatility, ability and attitude to be successful in ballet, jazz and contemporary, or any style of dance. Register with us today for an audition with one of our world-class master instructors – you just might be exactly who we’re looking for!