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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Requirements for a Job


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In my day, a male dancer needed a clean double tour, entrechat six and three to four pirouettes. If you could partner and were somewhat attractive, a job was guaranteed.


Today, the requirements seem similar, but double saut de basques/assembles and many more pirouettes are standard.


What do you look for in your technique and what do you see in those male dancers accepted in auditions?


[ 06-11-2001: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]

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The barest minimum seems to be approximately what you have stated, double tours, including to fourth and to the knee, at least 3 pirouettes and double saute de basque and assemble, at least to one side.


What seems to be more and more important is height (the girls seem to be getting taller, but that might just be me), excellent partnering skills and some modern experoence. The last two seem to be related, as most modern pieces (at least in my experience) seem to consist of a lot of partnering for the men. Not easy classical partnering either, a lot of triple en de dans pirouette from an off balance arabesque straight into a bluebird that slides down his back as she wraps herself across his body horizontally. Stuff they do not teach you in school.


The most important attribute however, especially when it comes to staying with a company (as opposed to getting the job in an audition), is the ability to use your head. By this I mean to learn choreography quickly, to keep your head when the rest of the company (including the director) is losing theirs, and to know the right thing to say to your partner that will make her feel better. . .

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Guest Leigh Witchel

I don't think you should underestimate the "somewhat attractive" part either. Directors are looking for a package, technique is only part of that package. I'm not talking about a specific shape of face, color hair or what have you, but I think that Balanchine's comment when he wouldn't explain why he wouldn't take someone into the company, "(S)he doesn't look like a dancer." is much more telling than it sounds. Michael and Steven are dead on about working on getting acceptable level technique. But I also advise looking very carefully at male dancers you admire, and working like hell to achieve that look.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest mrballerino


i find the validity of dancersteven's comment rather disturbing. most companies DO have cut offs and i miss most of them. i'm 5'7 AND A HALF"! are there any short companies? my guy dancer friends tell me to lie on my resume and say 5'8", is that cheating? i mean i'm as tall as the girls i partner usually but when they get on pointe, they're an inch or two taller. i've even partnered girls who are like 5'11" and worked it out. i've done a lot of contact improv in modern and i have a good sense of putting a girl on her leg. people have told me i seem much taller on stage...so for "looking like a dancer", can't i LOOK 5'11"?


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