Auditions are a part of life for dancers, so we all need to make peace with the process. And it is exactly that — a process! If you are smart, you will grow through the audition process as an individual, as well as a performer, enabling yourself to grow a little more after every audition experience. There are a few things you need to learn quickly and take seriously as a professional in order to survive the dancer life that many of you aspire to pursue or are currently pursuing as a career. If you haven’t learnt these things yet, the audition life will teach you either way. So you can take your pick — learn the easy way or the hard way. It all comes down to how you want your journey to play out.
You would think some things are common sense, even with most pre-professional dancers coming through either a formal full time training centre or a university degree, and that most things have become common knowledge by now, but unfortunately for some, that is not the case. I recently attended a musical theatre audition as a media representative and had the opportunity to witness a group of dancers in their dance call. I was really disappointed about how badly some dancers represented themselves in both presentation and conduct, so it inspired me to write this article. Much of this may seem simple, but it’s the little things that make the difference. If you change your mindset to that of a business person to focus on how you present yourself in your attire and your conduct as marketing or branding yourself when in an audition, then you enable yourself to be truly prepared at every audition.
Over the next few editions, Dance Informa will discuss how to prepare and dress suitably for different styles to show you that not all auditions are created equal, and you really need to do some homework. Fingers crossed, we’ll help you get a little closer to securing a contract!
- Research who you are going to be working for. For example, if it’s for a ballet company, know which works have been in their recent repertoire and what’s coming up in the future.
- Find out who the choreographer of the show is and what he/she has recently been working on so that you can find out if he/she has any nuances. Maybe the choreographer is a lefty, so you can practice more turns on the left if you’re a righty.
- If it’s a for a musical, what genre of musical theatre is it — classic, modern or jukebox? Does your song choice reflect the style/era of that show?
- Have you attended a lot of classes in that specific style in the lead-up to the audition?
- Plan your audition outfit so you’re not scrambling to find a random outfit on the morning of the audition.
These are all questions that you need to be asking yourself in the lead-up to the audition day. Of course, there are the obvious things like getting a good night’s sleep, eating a good breakfast and warming up.
Be smart and listen.
Choreographers and directors don’t like working with people who are slow to react or respond; instead, they want to work with people who are on the ball, are adaptable to change, and are quick on the uptake! So if you have a number, memorise it. If they call your name, say yes — immediately. Be someone who knows how to take direction and stands where you’re told quickly. Don’t be that person who doesn’t know how to stand in the gaps if you’re placed in the back line when you are split into smaller groups. Just mimic the way they set the first group into place. If you can’t take direction in an audition, you are basically disqualifying yourself from the job before you have even danced a step.
If you hear the choreographer say, “I want”, “look like” or “feel like”, you need to focus on trying to nail the step, feeling, look or dynamics of what they are trying to draw out of you. They want to see who in the group has drawn on what they’ve discussed and is embodying the style they’ve asked for.
It’s okay to ask questions, and you will nearly always get a chance to ask questions while learning the choreography. Just be sure that when you do, your questions are intelligent and specific. Don’t ask if it’s a double pirouette; it is usually always a double unless they specify a single. They want to know that you can turn, so listen to what they specify or do at least a double.
Don’t be scared to speak up when you are asked a question/asking a question if it will help you perform the choreography better. Just don’t be that person who asks the same question twice, just another way to cut yourself from making it to the next call.
Always be your most genuine self, and a little sense of humour thrown in is okay. People want to know they will be able to work with you for days on end.
Come dressed looking your best, appropriate for the style of dance, so you can feel and be ready to perform at your best. Your idea of looking “cool” isn’t always going to draw the creative team’s eye to you in a positive way. For example, if you’re at a musical theatre audition, dress the part. Don’t make it hard for the directors to imagine you as part of the ensemble or playing a specific character, so be sure to stand out for the right reasons when it comes to your attire. When it comes to makeup for the ladies, more is not more, and less is too bland. Be sure to have makeup on, but don’t have a full face of stage makeup. Enhance your eyes and pick a great lip colour to finish your look. For the gentlemen, be groomed with both your hairstyle and your facial hair.
By Dolce Fisher of Dance Informa.