Dear Katie

April 14, 2015

(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 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?

to watch Katie break down two fun “un-bun” hairstyles for class