On Stage with the Company: the Pre-professional Experience

For pre-professional ballet students, a spot in a professional company is the embodiment of all of their hard work. Being hired into a company opens the door to a world of opportunity to work alongside renowned choreographers and other talented dancers, and to dance their dream roles in modern masterpieces and esteemed classical ballets. So, how does a student land their dream job? It takes years of rigorous training, summer intensives and performance opportunities to hone their craft. Performing on stage is crucial to professional development, and the chance to dance alongside company members can make an even greater impact.

“There are nuances in artistry that can’t always be taught, but can be observed through example,” says Luke Mosher, a full-time Level 8 student in PBT School’s Pre-professional program. “Performing alongside company members gives me the opportunity to study up close these amazing dancers, their performances and their interpretation of a role. It also gives me a real sense of what a full-time career as a dancer will be like. Their example of work ethic and skill inspire and challenge me to reach my own potential.”

PBT School Pre-professional student Luke Mosher getting ready to perform the stag role alongside PBT company dancers in PBT’s Beauty and the Beast. | Performance photo: Rich Sofranko

Student dancers are often cast in company productions of The Nutcracker, but in PBT School’s Pre-professional program, students also have the opportunity perform in other company productions throughout the season. This opportunity, seen as a privilege and honor to Mosher, reinforces the rigor and company culture to the students, and increases the roles they can add to their repertoire. 

“I soak up every bit of wisdom I can from the dancers and the experience,” says Mosher. “To perform in additional productions not only gives me another chance to do that, but also the opportunity to work with different choreography.”

Pre-professional students, alongside PBT company dancers, perform the Waltz of the Flowers from Artistic Director Terrence S. Orr’s The Nutcracker. Mr. Orr has added more roles to the waltz so that more Pre-professional students could perform. | Photo: Rich Sofranko

Fellow Level 8 student Jacqueline Sugianto performed with Mosher in PBT’s 50th Anniversary Season production of Beauty and the Beast. As one of the youngest dancers in the production, the experience was an exciting challenge to be treated as a member of the company. 

“We were expected to pick up choreography or corrections quickly and stay on top of our schedule without reminders,” she said. “We worked alongside the company members in their rehearsals and even got our costumes labelled with our names. These privileges added another element to participating in this production, where I felt that I was trusted and responsible for my actions just like a professional.”

To be considered for a professional career, students need to leave an outstanding impression on an artistic director. Performing in company productions can help students push themselves to perform at the caliber of the company and distinguish themselves as professional-quality dancers to artistic leadership and to audiences. 

In addition to the opportunity to impress on stage, PBT School Graduate students can get even more exposure in classes taught by company artistic staff. “The attention to detail and personal corrections given by each of my teachers has helped sculpt me into the dancer I am today,” says Graduate student Lily Miller. “I feel like I am pushed constantly to be the best version of myself in the school classes I take, which has helped me grow so much as a dancer.” 

PBT School Pre-professional students Lily Miller and Jacqueline Sugianto get ready backstage for PBT’s Beauty and the Beast.

From the classroom to the stage, these students define their future as they transform themselves into the professional dancers they aspire to be. “Having the opportunity to perform in multiple company productions throughout the year has definitely improved my performance quality as a professional in training,” says Miller. “Being exposed as young dancers to the professional stage has given me experience I will carry with me through my entire professional career.”

Header and main image: Rich Sofranko; Artists: PBT Company members and PBT School Pre-professional students