Auditioning for the Paris Opera Ballet

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Primrose Kern began her career at the top: with the Paris Opera Ballet. She now spends her time between the POB and the Boston Ballet in the US. She also had a featured role in the film, 'The Red Shoes, the Next Step'. Here she describes the process of auditioning for the Paris Opera Ballet. 


Never in my wildest dreams did I think the Paris Opera Ballet would be the company where I would start my professional career.

Back in late 2018 I met the amazing and phenomenal Maina Gielgud [former artistic director of the Australian Ballet]. She came to visit and coach for my teacher, the late Prudence Bowen, on the Gold Coast. After my last coaching session Maina said: “I think you have the look and body shape for the Paris Opera Ballet”.

The normal process for the POB is training at the Paris Opera Ballet School, then competing in the internal competition “audition”. Outsiders (dancers who do not attend the school) compete for contracts at an external audition. Maina suggested I send my resume and other requirements for the first round of the audition, which is the on-line application. From that on-line application, they invite the dancers to Paris.  I was invited to travel to Paris in July, 2019.

Dancers selected for the online application are told to learn a specific variation a month before the audition date. The variation changes every year. There are three parts to the competition (audition), barre work, centre work and the variation. The judging panel consists of 10 or 12 jury members, consisting of the artistic director of the ballet, the director of the whole Paris Opera, the director of the school and other dancers of the company. Dancers are eliminated after each of the rounds: not everyone makes it to dance the variation. I was lucky enough to pass the barre and centre work to perform the variation. Later I was told they wanted to give me a contract, and the rest is history!

The above story is an extract from a special feature on auditions in the current (April/May/June) print issue of 'Dance Australia'. Learn from other dancers' audition experiences! Buy the magazine from your favourite retailer or on-line here or here.

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