Kelsey Coventry is originally from Rochester, New York, and trained at the Draper Centre for Dance Education. She graduated high school early to begin her professional career and danced with Twyla Tharp and Boston Ballet before heading over to Europe where she now dances for Leipzig Ballet in Germany. Kelsey talks to Dance Informa about the transition to dancing in Europe.
Kelsey, you had a pretty dynamic career in America, why did you decide to audition in Europe?
“I was based in New York City on and off for eight years and had many wonderful and varying dance experiences. I decided to audition in Europe because it seemed like the perfect next step for me in my career. I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and learn more about myself, as a person, and an artist. I was inspired by the thought of a new backdrop and gaining a broader view of the world and dance world.”
Did you audition for other companies?
“Yes, I auditioned for six companies all over Europe over about two weeks.”
What do you think makes people stand out in auditions?
“I think what makes people stand out initially in auditions is the way they present themselves. What you wear and the way your hair is done is an indication of your professionalism and experience. I believe that beyond the initial impression, one’s technique combined with a sense of confidence, is what makes them stand out.”
How do you prepare for an audition?
“I make sure I allow myself plenty of time before the audition to prepare my dance gear, my mind and body. Rushing around is the last thing I would want before an audition, so I wake up early and have my pointe shoes, ballet shoes, tights, warm ups, and leotard prepared and packed. Being prepared makes a big difference in my mental state for an audition.”
How do you manage your anxiety in an audition situation?
“I think trying to have the perspective that the audition is a chance to take class somewhere new, and with a new teacher, is the best way to ease my audition anxiety. That line of thought helps me get the most out of the audition and allows me to focus more on doing my best and trying to be the best dancer I can be instead of focusing on what the director is looking for and who he might be looking at.”
Did you notice differences about auditioning in Europe to auditioning in other places?
“Auditions in Europe are run pretty much the same as they are in the U.S.A. A lot of the companies in the U.S. charge an audition fee and if the company is unionized by AGMA, they are required to hold an audition whether they are hiring or not. In Europe, most times, if there is an audition, the company is hiring. Also, in Europe, it’s not likely that you will have to pay an audition fee.”
You’ve given yourself a big professional and personal challenge to move to Europe to work. What do you miss most about home?
“What I miss most about home are my family and friends! The time difference makes it a bit challenging to keep in touch with everyone. Luckily, I am able to keep in touch with my family either occasionally during the week or on the weekends via FaceTime and we text very often.”
By Tamara Searle of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Kelsey Coventry, dancer with the Leipzig Ballet in Germany. Photo by Erin Baiono.