I’ll be honest- auditions used to be some of my least favorite parts of being a dancer. They’re stressful and anxiety-inducing. They would put me in a mindset where I compared myself to others and doubted my own abilities. However, after many auditions, I’ve learned that they can be great opportunities to strengthen my self-esteem and learn and improve my dancing. Here are a few hacks I’ve discovered through my years of auditioning that make the whole process a lot less nerve-wracking and hopefully will make you, too, feel like a stronger auditioner.
Don’t stress over having perfect hair.
You read that right, perfect hair is not what you should be focusing on when attending auditions! Of course, your hairstyle should be totally secure and very neat, but judges want to see the kind of dancer you’re going to be in class or rehearsal- the real you. That means you should do your hair in a way that’s comfortable, out of your face, and is really a reflection of your personality. Forget slicking back your buns with ridiculous amounts of gel or placing your curls so that they perfectly frame your face. Getting that formal with hair is unnecessary and may even be distracting to you or to the judges. This applies to overdoing makeup, too- keep it light and fresh!
Bring extra pictures and copies of your resume, even if they don’t ask for them.
Auditions are about standing out and utilizing every opportunity to do so. Those opportunities aren’t limited to standing out in the studio. Many auditions specify a certain amount, type, and size of pictures they want you to bring, but always bring a variety of shots, and extra copies. Offer up your additional photos at registration, and most of the time, they’ll be accepted. (Don’t fret if they aren’t, some auditions like to stick to requirements.) The same goes for resumes. If you have a resume that you’re proud of, bring it to the audition even if it’s not required. In addition to showing you off in more ways, the extra effort illustrates that you’re willing to go the extra mile, which teachers, choreographers, and directors will all notice and appreciate.
Wear the outfit you feel the most comfortable in, not the one you think is the prettiest.
This goes hand in hand with the last hack. A lot of the time, we think auditions have to be like mini performances, including a stage-ready look. This is not the case! Your dancing is what you want to shine through, so wear something that allows you to dance your best. Just like the hack on hair, you should still wear something appropriate (don’t show up to a Broadway show audition wearing jeans and a sweatshirt just because it’s comfy!) However, it doesn’t need to be something so razzle-dazzle that it isn’t comfortable to dance in or distracts attention from your dancing. Another point is that judges love seeing confident dancers, and it’s hard to look confident when you’re consistently pulling at a loose leotard strap or adjusting glittery shorts.
Stand at the front of the group, in view of the audition ‘judges’ when combinations are being given.
The more you can be seen in any audition, the better. In addition to giving the audition observers more chances to see you, keeping close to the person giving the combinations shows that you’re attentive and eager to learn. Regardless of what you’re auditioning for, teachers, directors, and choreographers are all looking for dancers who want to sponge up all the information being given. So don’t be afraid to make your way to the front of the group while choreography is being taught, actively watching and listening.
Say thank you to everyone.
Manners go a long way inside and outside the dance world. After the audition, be sure to thank the teachers, choreographers, or whoever else was watching or teaching the audition. Do so genuinely and with a smile. You’ll make a lasting impression on those people and they’ll admire your respectfulness. Gratitude is so important as a dancer, and this is the easiest way to express it. Don’t forget to thank the accompanist if there is one!
Even if they don’t lead to a job or a role, auditions provide a higher stakes environment to test a dancer’s ability to stay cool and confident under pressure. They are great opportunities for improving how you learn choreography, your technique, and also just meeting new people within the dance world. The key takeaway from these hacks is just to be your poised, friendly, amazing self! Everything else will fall in line after that!
Emily Strickland is a professional ballet dancer and writer from Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is currently dancing with Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas, where she’s had the opportunity to perform ballets like The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake, as well as in a collaborative performance with Cirque du Soleil. Previously she was an artist at Columbia Classical Ballet and a trainee at Richmond Ballet, where she was the featured soloist in Connor Frain’s premiere piece “Inertia”. She has trained with Richmond Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Festival Ballet Providence, Nashville Ballet, and the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, Denmark. In addition, she is a ballet instructor at Avery Ballet.
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