Dear Katie

(Photo by Nathan Sayers)

Dear Katie,

My family is having trouble paying for my dance training. I’ve started a fundraising page, but I still don’t have enough to cover the cost of a summer intensive. Do you have any ideas? —Hailey

Dear Hailey,

Dance training can be really expensive, especially when you factor in summer intensives. Frequently, your best option is to ask the school itself for financial help. Schools often give need-based scholarships in addition to merit scholarships. At every audition, while you’re registering and getting your number, ask how you can apply for financial aid. Don’t be shy! Schools want to know you’re interested, and many will be willing to help.

Setting up a fundraising page through Kickstarter or gofundme.com is also a good idea. But make sure your page includes specific information about your goals and how you’re working to achieve them. People will be far more likely to donate if they have a clear idea of your ambitions—they want to know that their money will be put to good use. Try talking about the classes you’re taking each week, and the performances, intensives and competitions you’re preparing for. Make it clear how those experiences are moving you closer to a professional career.

Dear Katie,

Can you have true friends in dance? I find it really hard to be in situations where I’m competing with my peers—there’s a lot of jealousy. —Heidi

Dear Heidi,

I struggled with this when I was a student. I thought I had good studio relationships with the other dancers—but inevitably, once roles were assigned, jealousies arose. My advice is to make an effort to be friendly with everyone when you’re in class and rehearsal. When the cast list goes up, keep your emotions—happy or sad—to yourself until you’re out of the building. Don’t scream and jump around if you’re happy with your role, or pitch a fit if you’re not. And don’t let the dramatic reactions of others get to you, either. Keeping a level head will do wonders for your dance relationships.

Dear Katie,

I’m ready to move to a big city and start pursuing my professional career. But I

know every audition will be full of amazing dancers. Besides working on my technique, what can I do to stand out? —Breanna

Dear Breanna,

What an exciting step you’re taking! I know auditions can feel daunting, but you don’t have to be the “best” dancer in the room to stand out.

First and foremost, look presentable—no ripped tights or messy hair. Right off the bat, it shows the auditioners you’re willing to work. Continue that level of professionalism once the audition starts by doing each combination exactly the way the teacher gives it. Companies are looking for dancers who take direction well, listen and adapt quickly—those are the skills you’ll need to work with choreographers in the future.

Artistically speaking, I think the most critical thing is to stay on the music. Musicality is so important! There’s nothing more frustrating than watching a dancer with beautiful technique who’s completely in her own world, ignoring the counts. At this early point in your professional life, you’ll usually end up performing in an ensemble or corps de ballet—and you’ll need to be able to dance on the beat to mesh with everyone else.

Most importantly, look like you want to be there, but don’t be overly eager. An obnoxious personality doesn’t get you anywhere. Directors want people who are pleasant to work with!

Tired of boring buns?

Visit dancespirit.com to watch Katie break down two fun “un-bun” hairstyles for class

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by Jamayla Burse

Catching Up With Christian Burse, Comp Kid Turned Complexions Rising Star

With her nearly limitless facility, well-timed dynamics and incredible control, Christian Burse's future as a dancer was guaranteed to be bright. A student at the renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, Burse has consistently made waves: She won first runner-up for Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2019, received a grant for summer study at Juilliard from the Texas Young Masters program in 2020, and was named a YoungArts finalist for dance in 2021.

So, it wasn't all that surprising when Burse announced that, at just 17 years old, she would be joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet as an apprentice for the company's 2021–22 season.

Dance Spirit caught up with Burse to hear all about her first season with Complexions ahead of the contemporary ballet company's run at the Joyce Theater in NYC this month.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search