Italian, Spanish, English, and (of course) French: SF Ballet School Director Patrick Armand infused recent School auditions with a bit of each language to communicate with prospective students. Armand traveled to Guadalajara in search of talent, leading the School’s first-ever auditions in Mexico on July 16. “I went to Mexico looking for dancers who show tremendous artistry and potential,” says Armand. “I was there to find talented students and help them achieve their dreams.”
SF Ballet School’s auditions in Guadalajara were part of the multifaceted arts event Despertares Impulsa, created by English National Ballet dancer Isaac Hernandez and his brother, San Francisco Ballet Principal Esteban Hernandez. “Any time SF Ballet School has the opportunity to promote classical ballet and dance in general, it’s a great thing,” says Armand. “We’re thrilled to visit Guadalajara to be a part of these events, and I applaud this initiative.”
Holding international auditions is important to Armand, as it’s one of several ways that the School works to create a pipeline of diverse talent for San Francisco Ballet. The School anticipates 20 international students for the 2019–20 school year. In recent years, students have come to SF Ballet School from Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Martinique, Uruguay, Iceland, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Macedonia, Greece, Norway, Estonia, Ukraine, Poland, Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, and New Zealand, among others.
Armand found what he was looking for and then some at the Guadalajara auditions. Of the 120 students who applied to audition, Armand offered 12 scholarships to SF Ballet School’s summer and year-round programs.
For the 2019–20 school year, select students were offered a spot in the School’s student residence, as well as scholarship support to cover tuition and housing. Others were offered spots in the 2020 Summer Session and the 2020–21 school year program with financial support. “We aim to educate the whole dancer,” says Armand, “so that they are good humans, great dancers, and develop their artistry.”
In addition to the SF Ballet School audition, Despertares Impulsa included a gala performance of international dance stars as well as workshops, master classes, and conferences. It’s a passion project for the brothers, who were born in Mexico and want to expand opportunities to study and see dance in their home country.