Ballet senior pulls off juggling act

With the month of May approaching, the responsibilities required of seniors in their efforts to graduate are on the way, too. But for U senior ballet students, the path to graduation includes something just as daunting as their first day of college: auditions.

Christine Blanck, a senior who has spent the past four years dancing and studying ballet at the U, is devoting a significant portion of her final semester to researching, planning, scheduling, preparing for and traveling to auditions for numerous professional dance companies.

“The audition process is definitely difficult; however, it is exciting to be at the point of putting all of our training into action,” said Blanck, who has been dancing since her mother first enrolled her in classes at the age of three.

The process begins with a dancer researching companies he or she is best suited for. Sometimes physical body type and dancing style play a major role, Blanck said.

Once narrowed down, a dancer must conduct research of where his or her selected companies will hold auditions and then proceed to make travel arrangements, Blanck said.

“Being in Salt Lake (City) makes auditioning more complicated than being somewhere like New York City because traveling is a necessity,” she said. “It can be challenging to find the time to get to all the auditions you want to get to.”

While the department of ballet often excuses from classes auditioning seniors who major with an emphasis in ballet performance, the rest of the semester does not slow down for them. Students must juggle any non-ballet classes they attend as well as their graduation plans with rehearsals and performances, all while preparing for professional company auditions.

“I started out with a list of about 20 (companies) that I had already narrowed down,” Blanck said. “Now I’m finding that many of them overlap with each other or coincide with performances or other activities.”

Blanck said auditions serve as a chance to receive a contract that may even present the opportunity to travel, but they can be also be “fun and frightening” and “expensive and stressful.”

“The expense of flights and travel have also turned me away from several companies I had wanted to audition for,” she said.

Some dancers in the department have chosen to organize group travel excursions and carpool to various audition locations.

“It can cut costs by traveling with other dancers to auditions,” Blanck said. “However, it is sometimes hard because if you are a very similar dancer to one of your friends, it might not be in your best interest to audition with each other.”

When preparing for auditions, dancers must also pay expenses for headshots, dance photographs and audition videos in case he or she cannot make a company’s scheduled audition date.

As Blanck and her peers sacrifice their final semesters at the U to invest both their time and money with the hope of signing a contract with a professional dance company, even success in this respect doesn’t come without doubts.

“I have had friends that loved dancing in college and were accepted into companies and hated it,” Blanck said. “I think it will take persistence over time to find the right company.”