Dealing with Summer Programs Audition Disappointment

Feeling the sting of not being accepted into a summer intensive? You are not alone! Every dancer faces challenges along the road; here are several things to consider when facing feelings of rejection in dance.

By Katie Slattery on April 10th, 2014

Not being accepted into a ballet school’s program may feel like a slap in the face for aspiring dance students. Because summer intensive programs can be highly selective and offer limited enrollment, young dancers can become discouraged and lose confidence in themselves when they are turned down from a particular program.

Though it is frustrating, there are a few important things that can be learned while dealing with rejection. In the end, a rejection can actually motivate you to improve and keep growing, which will lead to future success!

Remember that dance is subjective; not everyone’s opinion is the same. One director may love what you have to offer, while another is not interested in your dancing. Finding the right program for you may take time, but discovering a good fit is extremely important in ballet. Learning this will help you not only as a student, but in a professional career as well…and ultimately as a person.

You may not do well with one school, yet be a favorite at another. Rejection from one program does not mean another program won’t happily accept you.

I specifically remember going to two nationally recognized summer program auditions when I was 12 years old. The auditions were on the same day, in the same studio with one immediately following the other. I did the auditions back to back and felt I had performed equally in both. I was not accepted into one of the programs, while the other program not only accepted me, but also awarded me a scholarship.

Do not let rejection get you down or cause you to give up. Most professional ballet dancers who are enjoying successful careers in big companies can give examples of rejections they received early on. Use it as an opportunity to recognize that a school is not the right fit for you at this time.

An audition is a great opportunity to view dancers from other studios and see where you stand. It can give you a realistic idea of how your dancing compares to other dancers in your area. Take note of what your strength and weaknesses are, and use it as positive motivation.

It is also an opportunity to meet and befriend other students. And it is always beneficial to take a guest teacher’s class – every instructor has something valuable to offer.

One of the frustrations of summer program auditions is that they frequently don’t provide you with feedback. Most large schools will send you a letter with a yes or no reply, but if the answer is no, there is not an explanation of why.

Audition for a variety of schools. Nationally recognized schools (like American Ballet Theatre’s JKO School and School of American Ballet) are highly selective so you may want to start by auditioning for smaller schools that are still highly regarded. Check school websites for specific information on audition requirements and the specifics of the summer program.


  • An audition is an opportunity to learn – try to focus on the positive.
  • Being told “no” is inevitable and can be a growing experience.
  • Different schools look for different things in students; if you are not successful with one school try auditioning for another type of school.
  • Don’t be afraid to re-audition the following year. Small changes can bring about great results!

Try to remember that an audition is an opportunity to learn something about yourself and grow as a dancer. Every student deals with feelings of rejection; do not let it get you down.

Hard work and discipline pay off; with dedication and the right attitude you will persevere. If you enjoy the experience and stay positive, then great opportunities await!

About the Author: Katie Slattery

Katie Slattery was a professional ballet dancer for 10 years and is most proud of the time she spent dancing for Fernando Bujones during his directorship of Orlando Ballet. She is currently a full-time faculty member with Orlando Ballet School as well as Artistic Assistant with the professional company, and she is certified in the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum. Katie is the mother of a beautiful daughter named Grace!