Chapter 8, Sarah Irmatova: A Rocky Start

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Dancer with the Czech National Ballet

My transition into the Junior Company was fairly smooth. Though it seemed like the correct path to follow after graduation it actually turned out to be a bad fit. It wasn't a close enough connection to the main company as I'd hoped so I started doing some auditions on the side towards the end of my first season.

After sending my video to a few places, I was invited to a private audition where I was offered a contract! I was so excited and started to make plans for my move as the job was also in a new country. I was ecstatic. However, time went by and the promised contract never arrived. I continued to follow up with the company's administration but to no avail until one day I received the bad news that they didn't have enough budget to hire me that following season.

Photo by Youn Sik Kim

I was so discouraged and disappointed, at that point, I had already stopped sending audition applications and had almost run out of time! But a few weeks later, I received an invitation to audition for another ballet company so I decided then and there to take a chance and buy a flight ticket to take class with the company. I arrived and realized I was actually auditioning along with three other girls. The director seemed very interested and gave me many compliments after the audition and said that he would let me know his verdict within the week.

I stayed in touch with the two other girls that had also auditioned with me and found out a week later that neither of them got offered the contract. So my hopes were high that I was going to be offered the job but then another week passed and I still didn't receive word from the company. Finally, after three weeks I received news that they were going to waitlist me. Disappointingly, I decided to stay in the Junior Company for a second season. It also meant that I would have to audition again. The second time around I applied to audition at a German company and together with my husband. Though they were very interested in me they, unfortunately, only had availability for men but suggested that I join without getting paid and said that "you live for the art, not for the money." It was ridiculous! It's shocking how many young dancers are exploited like that, with experience and expected to dance professionally without getting paid.

Fortunately, after a couple more auditions I got a contract at the Czech National Ballet where I'm currently in my second season. Though it was a rocky audition journey, it really did pay off in the end and now I live in a beautiful city where I am a part of a great company.

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