Dance Advice

Audition preparation and attire: Musical theatre

William Forsythe leads a class. Photo courtesy of Forsythe.
William Forsythe leads a class. Photo by Stephen Rogan.

Last edition, we discussed audition etiquette in general, so let’s switch gears and have a chat on a few nuances about how to audition well for a musical theatre.

Musical theatre’s demands are so different for a dancer, so you need to prepare yourself a little differently compared to other disciplines in the performing arts. Dancers, you know that you can’t get away with just dancing alone! Musical theatre is a multi-disciplined art form, so get your head ready for what you need to do: dance, sing and act. It is not for the faint hearted, and you need to be prepared in all fields, regardless if you are dancer/singer or a singer/dancer. For those who identify as a dancer/singer, you know that once you make it through the dancer call that you will have to sing. It’s inevitable, so there’s no use trying to avoid it if you want to be employed. If you can’t jump through this hoop, then becoming a professional in this field may just not be for you. This genre is demanding, and you actually have to up your game with your preparation. So if you want to break into this arena as a performer, you have no choice but to step up and bring “it” every time.

Proper attire for a musical theatre audition.

Proper attire for a musical theatre audition.

Here are a few areas you should focus on to help you to be well presented in your auditions. 


Many of you have been through full-time training so should’ve been through the process of doing a mock auction. Make sure you draw on the feedback that your teachers give you to assist you for the real world. How you deal with feedback, both positive and negative, can make or break you! So learn how to deal with it in your mind, then take action so you can move forward. If you are lucky enough to get personal feedback in an audition, lap it up. You’re lucky, as it doesn’t happen often, so use it to better yourself. 

Professional Development

Don’t stop your training once you graduate. Are you still learning more about your craft? So if you’re a dancer who can’t proudly say I’m a dancer/singer, then get yourself a vocal coach and get your confidence up so that you can say it. Then you have eliminated a problem. And vice versa — if you happen to be a singer/dancer, then go to some more dance classes and help build your confidence so you don’t feel like a fish out of water amongst the dancers as much. Find an acting course to push your acting skills. Know what you’re up for; watch the show you’re auditioning for again if it’s one you’re not as familiar with. Does the show has tap dance in it? If yes, then you’d better get ready to strap on those tap shoes for a few classes. If the choreography is Fosse or Robbins, get yourself into ballet and authentic jazz classes. Continuing your professional development will only enhance your progress and enable you to become a better performer.

Warm Up

Warm up fully! This means your body and voice; do this before you leave home! A light yoga session and vocal warms-ups/run throughs before you leave home allow you to channel nervous energy and take off some of that on-the-spot pressure with other people around you. Don’t overdo this one, though; there is a fine line between preparing and making yourself more nervous. 


When it comes to a musical theatre audition, make sure you look like you’re ready to step into a musical theatre production. Keep simple, clean lines in your outfit that enhance your body and look. Make it easy for the directors to imagine you in costume. 

Dance Informa caught up with Australian choreographer William A. Forsythe. He has a wealth of experience as a dancer and choreographer, he also has the opportunity to mentor and nurture young talent as one of the directors at ED5 International. Forsythe’s advice is consise and to-the-point – so take note.

William Forsythe. Photo by Stephen Rogan.

William Forsythe. Photo by Stephen Rogan.

From the perspective of a choreographer, what extra consideration should a dancer put into his/her audition attire for a musical theatre audition?

“The first thing they need to do is research the show and the choreography that is in the show. That will give them a sense of the style, and then wear appropriate clothes that will show off the movement for that style. If the choreography is very technical, then wear traditional dance gear that will show line, form and technique. Also, wear dance gear that has the essence of the show.”

In a musical theatre audition, what do choreographers/directors look at differently in comparison to different genres of dance?

“Like all choreographers, they still look for embracing the style and detail, but the main difference is that they look for the ability of storytelling through the movement and performance. A dancer whose movement is driven by the character is a big plus.”

What things make certain dancers appear a cut above the rest? 

“The dancer who can listen and respond to the direction and take on changes in auditions always stands out.”

Any advice to a dancer/singer to enhance his/her audition? 

“Your job is to deliver you at your best. This is done through preparation before the audition, and then when you are in the room you have one job: listen and respond! That is your job. Listen to what is said to you movement-wise, direction-wise, and then respond to it.”

Chookas for your next audition! 

By Dolce Fisher of Dance Informa.

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