Chapter 11, Emma Jones: Perseverance

Former dancer with Magdeburg Ballet Theatre & Singapore Dance Theatre

It began at the age of 10 when I knew that I would do anything in my power to become a professional ballet dancer. It became my dream to be on stage dancing with a ballet company but little did I or my family know about the road that lay ahead. At 14 I left school and went full-time dancing all day while completing distance education at night. This continued for about 18 months during which I had sent an audition DVD to about 12 locations around the globe.

The offers started to come in large envelopes and the whole world opened up to me. It was a huge decision that was mainly guided by my parents as they were the ones that would be supporting me through a further 3 years of training and auditions to gain a job. In the end, the decision was the Ballet Academy - University of Music & Performing Arts Munich where I spent 3 amazing years in Germany. The training was hard but the exposure to the art form in Europe was incredible.

In my final and graduating year the auditions started. I created a CV, cover letter and took pictures with little to no help or guidance and started to send emails, which felt like hundreds of emails! I received emails back from most and attended auditions for a couple of months. I don’t remember the exact number but I think I could easily say 20 auditions-- both open and private for small/medium to large companies. There were some that weren’t even looking for anyone, and some, where I didn’t make it off the barre but the hardest part was probably when I made it to the final round as my hopes rose so high and the wait was torture. By the end of the year, I had a few maybes and a short-term contract in Düsseldorf for a musical as a dancer. I headed back home exhausted and devastated that after 5 years of full-time training I was heading home with no permanent contract. I hadn’t given up yet though! It wasn’t in me to stop, it was simply not an option.

While home I got the dream email. I had received a contract with Magdeburg Ballet Theatre. The contract was for 8 months and I was needed straight away. I threw everything to the wind and changed my flight and had a particularly hard time getting out of my other contract (extremely difficult in Germany, I wouldn’t recommend it). It was a whirlwind. I had 4 great years with the company in Magdeburg, having had the opportunity to perform roles including Kitri, Clara, Silly Girl, and Pas de Quatre.

After 7 years in Germany, I felt it was finally time to go a little closer to home so I did an Australasian company audition tour with my partner (now husband). It was a great but expensive experience and though my partner was successful in getting a job with Singapore Dance Theatre, at the time I was not. But things shifted when I received a last-minute email saying that the director was in need of a female dancer for the season and that I could audition again, so I did, and I was very grateful to get the contract. We spent 2 years in total with the company and I was cast in wonderful ballets including many Balanchine ballets as well as Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty.

After almost 10 years of being abroad, I decided it was time for me to come home. I have now been teaching for 4 years while completing my dietetics degree. Sharing my knowledge and love for classical ballet and its traditions has been a real privilege. My years traveling the world and dancing on many stages are the very best and have created the person I am today. I would say determination, passion, hard work, and a supportive network are the most important ingredients for success. As an artist stay true to yourself and let it shine through.