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.”
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
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Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
There's a story Kate Walker, director of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, loves to tell about Emma Sutherland, who just graduated from the program. "We were watching the students run a really long, challenging piece," Walker recalls. "Several kids couldn't quite make it through. But Emma did make it all the way to the end, which is when she walked up to us faculty and very politely asked, 'May I please go throw up?' "