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Why Hearing “No” Means You’re Doing Everything Right

Maybe you’ve heard this audition advice before—behind every “yes” there are fifty “no’s.”


I’m here to testify that sadly the age-old adage is true. But don’t hang up your dance shoes just yet! There’s hope behind these “no’s” and I’m here to show you how to find it.


One of my proudest moments of my career onstage was performing in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World. But that moment only came to be after nearly two years of relentless auditioning for Disney, attending every open call. It came after a string of “no’s.” My dream job with Disney wasn’t a fluke; it was a product of perseverance and determination, and of course a little bit of that special something called “right-place-right-time.”


If you’re getting a lot of “no’s” it’s because you’re going to a lot of auditions 

—and that’s great! Instead of banking on just two or three auditions a month, you’re putting in plenty of audition time at all sorts of calls, gaining experience in return.


You’re getting out audition jitters.

One of the best pieces of advice I have ever received was—“Think of auditions as a free class.” With this mindset, I realized an audition was another opportunity to learn and hone my craft. With every audition I became more confident and more relaxed when it came time to perform. Then when it came time to dance for my dream show, the jitters were buried beneath confidence, talent, and discipline.


You’re networking with other dancers and performers in the waiting room.

I have walked out of countless auditions with “no’s,” but not necessarily empty handed. One time I found myself with a ticket to a Broadway show that very night. Another I was walking away with an invite to participate in a dance film. The audition waiting room is a great place to meet people, while also gathering information on the ground level. One of my favorite things to do in an audition room is to put in my headphones, but not actually listen to any music. By doing some innocent eves-dropping, I’ve learned useful tips, like what certain casting directors like to see in an audition, and what positions are opening up in Broadway shows. And that’s the kind of information they don’t put on the casting call.


You’re increasing your odd’s of right-place-right-time.

If there was a formula to being a successful performer it might look something like this:


Hard Work + Talent + Perseverance + Right-Place-Right-Time = Success


Maybe you read the above while nodding and thinking “I’ve got this”…Until you got to the last bit—“right-place-right-time,” often referred to as “luck.” The frustrating thing about that part of the equation is that there is no amount of audition prep you can do to factor it in. What is in our control as dancers is working hard, honing our talent, and continuing to persevere despite “no’s” and setbacks.


To give you an example, this little bit of luck came into place in getting me up on the Cinderella Castle Stage. It was only at that fourth audition I attended that they were looking for a dancer with my measurements and availability to fill the role that had just opened. Though I may have danced well at my previous auditions, it was only that one where the opportunity was waiting for me.


“No…No thank you…No not right now”—this sort of internal dialogue can be fatiguing and disheartening. You’ve worked so hard to get into that audition and show off your life’s work, only to be another number lost in a pile of resumes. But hearing “No” is great and each one should be worn like a badge of honor, a symbol of tenacity in a business that is unforgiving, yet rewarding. You’re “yes,” is out there, each audition a step closer to finding it.


Kelsey is a classically trained dancer and Actor’s Equity performer. She has performed for companies such as Central Florida Ballet, Tokyo Disney, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and at sea with leading luxury cruise lines. A dancer by day and a writer by night, when Kelsey is not performing she shares her love of dance, travel, and finding a good cup of coffee on her blog Wend Away Travels. Find her full performance bio and show gallery at www.kelseyannglennon.com.

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