How to Prepare for a Dance Audition
As an aspiring dancer you will most likely come across various auditions during your career. Whether it be for university or college entrance, summer intensives or professional Ballet companies to musicals, music videos and cruise ships, auditions are just another area dancers need to prepare for. When it comes to getting the job or being offered a place within the school the audition can sometimes make or break a dancer. Below are some tips on how to prepare for a dance audition in order to showcase yourself to the best of your abilities.
Location, Location, Location….and Arrive Early!
If you have never been to the location in question make sure you know directions. Also ensure that you know the time you need to be there for. If you are taking public transit, leave an hour early and always plan to be there a half hour early in order to fill out any information required by the company, sign in, change and warm up.
Know the Company
Find out exactly what the role is, who they are looking for, previous performances etc. The better you know what type of dancer they are looking for, the better you can prepare. Most companies provide an email or phone number. Don’t be scared to call and ask for more information.
Attire and Professional Appearance
Hair and Make Up: Always make sure that you look neat and polished. Ensure that you have read the instructions for the audition, as they will usually give you a brief description. You should follow these requirements; if you don’t you are risking the fact that those in charge of casting will see you as someone who does not follow directions well. For example, when I have been to auditions for professional sports teams they usually want “camera ready make up and hair.” Obviously in this case you want to have your hair down and styled with enough make up on that will allow you to stand out on film. If you go to a University or College entrance audition you may not need much make up and your hair should usually be pulled neatly off your face and secured; that means no distracting bangs in your face!
Clothes and Shoes: For your clothing and shoe attire you should also ensure that you are adhering to the audition requirements. You should always dress for the style of dance that you will be auditioning for. I remember one time I went to a Disney audition where I could tell they were auditioning for princes and princesses. There was this one young man who came in with cowboy boots on! Yes, COWBOY BOOTS! It didn’t work….although he looked like he stepped right out of a Disney movie with his prince-like looks, he could barely dance in those boots!
You should also make sure that your attire is flattering for your figure, for example if you have amazing legs; wear shorts to show them off. If you have a super six pack, wear a short top to draw focus to your core muscles.
Be Prepared for the Unexpected
Bring extra clothes and shoes in your bag and bring or wear convertible tights. Cruise ship auditions might have you dance in both jazz shoes/shoes of your choice, than ask for character shoes too. Ballet and Contemporary companies may want to see both disciplines, therefore; wearing convertible tights will take you from Ballet to Contemporary in 10 seconds. The audition space might be very cold, so bring a sweater. It is better that you arrive over prepared than stuck without something that you need. Bring an emergency kit with bandages, double sided tape, hair pins, make up, hair spray and music. (just in case you are asked to show something by yourself or to warm up and clear your mind for auditioning)
Before You Attend the Audition
Make sure that your resume and headshot is up to date! Bring these items with you, although sometimes casting directors do not require them. If you need to register and sign up before the audition, make sure you have done so. Make sure you eat a good meal that will provide energy. Bring one or two small snacks in your bag like a Banana and lots of water.
At The Audition
Make sure you arrive with a positive attitude. Smile and greet casting directors, staff and other dancers in a friendly manner. Network! Other dancers may have more information or an inside “tip” to help you in your audition. You also never know when casting directors are watching, therefore; it is good to always look approachable.
Stand where it makes you feel comfortable. If you are quick at picking up choreography, you might want to stand at the front or in the centre. Although most auditions will change the room up (front goes to the back and everyone else moves forward) in order for everyone to learn choreography, this doesn’t always happen, therefore; you may want to avoid the back in a large audition. If too many people are in front of you, you might not be able to pick up the intricacies of the choreography or hear the choreographer. Most auditions will see small groups of dancers before they make their first cuts, but this is not necessarily always true, therefore; it is best not to be cut just because no one has seen you!
Do whatever you need to do to feel confident. Try to stay focused on yourself and do not look around and feel intimidated by those dancers stretching with perfect feet and flexibility, those dancers may not have everything that the casting directors are looking for.
Make sure you warm up well! You do not want to sustain an injury during an audition. Not only will that mean you will not have the opportunity to work for the company in which you are auditioning for, you might also not be unable to attend classes and future auditions because of your injury.
Always perform the choreography
like you are on stage. Casting directors want to see great technique, but they also want to see your personality and performance quality. In some cases they may even choose dancers that have stronger stage presence over those with flawless technique that lack that extra something special.
If you are attending an audition that requires you to prepare your own number(s) keep in mind music and choreography choices. These choices should match the description of the role. If they are looking for Broadway jazz dancers, you should ensure that your solo is within that style. I would personally suggest that you edit your music to suit the length of the solo required. This looks more professional than ending your piece and casting directors do not know whether you are finished as your music continues. Also edit out swear words and any other inappropriate material. Do not be scared to have someone else choreograph your solo. This should be someone who knows you and the style well, such as a previous dance teacher. This will showcase your talents to the best of your abilities, especially if choreography is not your strong skill. You are auditioning as a dancer not a choreographer.
After The Audition
If you are cut, do not feel bad. Often times you may not have been the right look. There are several times in auditions where I could see the casting directors observing the dancers while we waited for the audition to start, pointing and discussing. I have also had casting directors ask for clarification of the names of some dancers before the audition starts. Based on a headshot they may have you in mind for a specific role. I’ve seen dancers approach a casting director after the audition for everything from what they should work on to be considered for the future or
why they were cut. In some cases this is acceptable and casting directors are more than willing to share their expertise if you approach them in a respectful manner and nothing like, “Are you blind? Can’t you see that I’m the best dancer here!” LOL. Remember: The best dancers aren’t always the best dancers for that role.
For The Future
Keep working on technique. Attend as many auditions as possible. The more auditions you attend, the more likely you are to become comfortable with auditioning and land that role you have always wanted! Always keep in mind, “how to prepare for a dance audition” and your next opportunity to show casting directors your skills will be a success!
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