Taking a great audition photo is crucial in the ballet world. Whether you’re auditioning in person or not, company and school directors use your photo to remember you and your dancing, and to immediately assess your abilities and savvy. You don’t need to hire a professional photographer—just follow this checklist and you’ll get a stellar shot.
Exceptional technique: No matter what pose you’re in, your technique should be flawless: Legs turned out, feet pointed, etc. You can take as many shots as you need to, so there’s no reason to stop clicking until everything is perfect.
Clean hair and makeup: Your hair should be pulled back in a neat bun and your makeup should be clean and natural. Look like yourself—not a stage-ready, unrecognizable version of yourself.
Solid-colored leotard: The style of the leotard should be simple and flattering.
Professional-looking background: You want people to look at you, not what’s behind you, so make sure the background isn’t distracting. A solid color is best, and a plain white wall is ideal. Don’t take your photo in front of a mirror or in your living room!
Normal lighting: Make sure the space you’re in is well-lit. Now’s not the time for your photographer to get artsy. No spotlights or extra effects necessary, and no photo editing.
Accurate perspective: Whoever is taking your picture should do so from a few feet away, standing at your level.
*Note: If the school or company you’re auditioning for doesn’t specify a position for your audition photo, include photos in first arabesque and tendu croisé devant as well as a headshot.
If you’ve got it, flaunt it!
If you’re confident going beyond a standard first arabesque position, go ahead and try something a little different (in addition to the arabesque photo). Just make sure what you do is still clean and technically flawless.
“Madison’s line, physicality and ability stand out in this photo,” says Shelly Power, associate director of Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy. “She’s showing extension, flexibility and her facility. The shape isn’t static, so I can see movement rather than a posed position. This photo is clean and thoughtful. It gets right to the point.”
Photos of Madison Morris, an apprentice with Houston Ballet, by Jim Caldwell.