Ask Amy: I'm a Trainee, and Don't Know If I'll Ever Get a Contract With My Company

March 7, 2019

I’m in my second year as a trainee. I like the company, but it’s hard to tell if the director sees a place for me here long-term. I don’t want to waste my time hoping for a contract that may never come. Any advice? —Eryn

Don’t pin all your hopes on one company. A traineeship is a very vulnerable position, and the director is under no obligation to hire you. Several times I’ve seen young dancers, even those who’ve been verbally promised a job, end up empty handed. Budgets change, sometimes causing rosters to shrink, or directors hire an outside dancer instead of promoting from within. I’m not trying to scare you—I just want to encourage you to protect yourself and be proactive about your future.

Continue working hard at your company school, so it’s clear that you’re interested in a career there. Instead of relying on clues from artistic staff, schedule a meeting with your trainee program director to talk about what your prospects might be (and what you need to do to improve them). You may not get a straight answer—or the one you want—but the feedback could be useful.

Even if your trainee director infers that you’re likely to be hired, you’re not officially “in” until you sign a contract. Until then, cover your bases by researching other companies, sending out audition materials and attending open calls. Auditioning elsewhere doesn’t mean you’re disloyal to your current company—you’re looking out for your own career.

Have a question? Send it to Pointe editor and former dancer Amy Brandt at
askamy@dancemedia.com.