One of the most nerve-racking moments of being a dancer or performer is auditioning. The moment you walk into the space with a panel of judges lined in the front of the room, while wearing your number, can be filled with anxiety especially if you have not prepared well for the process. So how does a dancer properly prepare for an audition? There are a few key areas to discuss and several points to check off you list of readiness.
Once you find an audition you would like to participate in, it is important to gather as much information about the audition as possible.
- Location: Find out where the audition is being held and get directions and map it out before you go.
- Day and Time: Knowing when the audition is, is very important. You want to make sure you arrive at the right time for your age or experience level.
- Duration: Make sure to allot enough time for your travel to and from the audition, as well as the audition itself. You do not want to arrive late or leave early because you did not prepare yourself for the time required to complete the audition.
- Dress Code: You must be in dress code to participate in most auditions. Make sure your dance attire is the right color and free of rips, tears, wholes, or stains. Make sure your hair is clean and neat. If asked for a ballet bun, your bun should be slicked back on the center of your head with a hairnet and pins. Don’t forget to wear your smile! You want to present your self as professionally as possible. No matter your age or level, how you present your self in an audition speaks volumes of your work ethic and the respect you have for the professionals in the front of the room.
- (if any): Many dance studios and schools require an audition fee to participate. This is so they can be prepared on how many dancers to expect or to reimburse the professionals working the audition. If there is no fee to audition, there may be a fee to participate in the performance. You want to be aware of all fees needed to participate. You do not want to audition if you cannot pay the fees associated.
- Rehearsal and Performance Dates: The purpose of the audition is to be cast for a performance. Make sure to know all dates you will be required to attend to be cast before you audition. You do not want to audition if you will be missing or arriving late to rehearsals. A disorganized dancer that cannot commit to the schedule is very frustrating to work with. You may have to be replaced by understudy and this creates unnecessary stress on the choreographers that need to set the show. However, communication is key! If you want to participate and fear you may not be able to fully commit, always communicte this to your directors/choreographers. They may be able to cast you in less demanding roles so that you can be in the show after all.
Preparing Your Dance Bag
Your dance bag is your lifeline in an audition. Essential items you will want to have include:
- An extra leotard, tights, and all shoes needed for the audition
- Hair and makeup items
- Water bottle and towel
- Personal first aid kit
- Mini sewing kit, spare ribbons, and elastic (for pointe shoes)
- Snack or lunch (avoid processed sugars and junky foods)
Dancers should always make sure they are physically ready for an audition. Feed your body well balanced foods and eat a solid meal before you leave for the audition. It is critical that your body has the right fuel to get through the day. Eating a meal with the right amount of protein, fats, and carbohydrates will keep you on your toes and put the pep in your step to get you through the physical demands of an audition.
Have you been training? Dancers need to be training continually. The consistency in instruction at their home studio is very important to maintaining physical shape and muscle memory for the body. Time taken off from training will negatively affect your performance in an audition. It takes double the time to catch your body up to where it was before you took time off. Give yourself the best chance possible to nail the audition and stand tall next to your competition. Don’t let poor technique or low endurance be the reason you don’t make the cut. These are easy to fix by being focused and dedicated to attending your regular dance classes prior to auditioning.
This is perhaps the most difficult part of the entire process. You have been attending all your classes and even scheduled privates to be at your utmost technical and physical shape. You know when and where the audition is. You packed your dance bag and arrived in dress code. You ate a healthy meal and packed a good lunch for break…But you failed to ask yourself the most important question: “Why am I here?” Your answer to this question will determine your success. Let’s start with the correct answers: “I am here to learn and grow as an artist.” “I am here to experience something new.” “I am here to share my passion.” “I am here to spend quality time with dance friends and build professional relationships.” “I am here to because I love performing.” The wrong answer: “I am here to get a lead, or I will quit if I don’t get the part I want.”
Dance is an art. Learning to use our bodies to tell a story is a gift and any opportunity to share this gift with an audience is a very special opportunity. It is very easy to forget the “Why” and all too easy to become obsessed with getting the lead role. The company’s job is to prepare the body and mind of the dancer for the real world. Not everyone can get the lead role or the part they want. Parts are cast for many different reasons. Sometimes a dancer is cast because of their impeccable technique or their physical look. Other times they are cast because a choreographer prefers their type of movement quality over other dancers, and sometimes they see a dancer that inspires them, and they want to work with them. These are all real-life scenarios that happen no matter how much you prepared and no matter how perfect your attendance was.
Claiming seniority, favoritism, or unfairness is not going to prepare you for life in the real world. Having this attitude will get you nowhere quickly. Whether a dancer wants to be a professional or not, the audition process is a valuable tool to prepare children for the adult world. You will one day apply for colleges, internships, or jobs. You may or may not get them and someone else will. It is important to learn how to deal with disappointment and move forward. Maybe you received a corps role because you are a good leader and team player and the choreographer needs to use your skill to lead and hold the entire corps together. Maybe you didn’t get the part because you had poor attendance or maybe just maybe someone out auditioned you. It happens! Maybe you didn’t get the role you were hoping for but be grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a production that can use you. Accepting you may never know why, is important too but try your hardest to get answers and learn to be better prepared for the next time. The disappointment in not getting the part you were hoping for is not the fault of the director, the choreographer, or the dancer that did get the role. Be careful to not externalize blame, but to instead self-reflect on the choices you made and how they may have affected your audition. By doing so, you become a gracious and humble artist and that is an artist professionals want to work with.
Can you be disappointed? Yes. Can you cry? Yes. However, don’t linger in the disappointment. Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and keep move forward. Life is so much bigger than the results of an audition. Merde’!