A Dancer’s Guide to Success in an Audition

A Dancer’s Guide to Success in an Audition

Published in Black Dance Magazine January 2013 Issue

It is safe to say that auditions are nerve-wrecking experiences that many wish to avoid; however, they are a crucial element to landing a job in the performing arts world. Auditions aid dancers in the process of landing a role in a show or a principal spot in a company. Since there is no way of escaping the audition process, dancers should take the time to learn how to be prepared and exude strength in an audition.

Auditions take practice; the more auditions a dancer attends, the more familiar he or she will be with the etiquette and proper behavior that impresses choreographers. 

Research: a Crucial Step in Audition Preparation

“Dancers must research the company, its history, and its styles of dance,” said Dyane Harvey, assistant director of Forces of Nature Dance Theater.

When preparing for an audition, it is crucial for dancers to be informed about choreographers and company owners expectations.  No one would walk into a test without studying beforehand, unless they plan to fail.  The same principle applies for auditions. A dancer who wants to ensure that he/she is well-prepared for an audition should research the companies online, watch their performance videos, and even attend a show if possible.  Becoming familiar with the company or choreographer’s dance style will help dancers understand what the choreographer is looking for during the auditions.

Getting a Choreographer’s Attention

“I look for the energy, the unspoken desire and the fire in a dancer’s eyes,” said Mickey Davidson, primary choreographer for her company Mickey D. & Friends.  “You have to want it.”

Having a strong sense of confidence in one’s self and the movement are the keys to success during an audition.  Be punctual, and pay attention while learning the choreography.  Passion for the job must be evident, and a dancer should give it all they have. A lack of interest will surely be a turn-off for a choreographer.

“The dancer that usually gets my attention, is the dancer that takes their craft seriously,” said Jessica St.Vil, artistic director and choreographer for Kanu Dance Theater.  “During the audition process, a dancer should take the movement given and own it.”

An audition is a fight for attention. Many dancers place too much emphasis on perfecting the choreography, and attempting to execute the movement exactly how it was taught. Although it is highly beneficial to be able to retain choreography quickly, that is not the only factor choreographers are interested in. Don’t be afraid to add personal flavor.   Choreographers want to see a dancer’s personality; choreographers notice when a dancer gives a little something extra.  However, too much confidence and personal style can hurt a dancer’s chances at landing the job, so dancers should maintain a healthy balance of each.

Rejection: It’s a Part of Life

“You must have a plan,” said St.Vil, “and know that rejection must be part of that plan.”

Although people hate to admit it, rejection is a part of life. Harvey suggests that no one should take rejection personally.  Instead find out the reason for the rejection and work on strengthening that area.  There are countless numbers of dance companies and choreographers around the world that there is something for every dancer.  Set goals, do research and seek to train as much as possible.  Be prepared to work hard in order to accomplish those goals.

Push Your Limits. Dance Outside of the Box

Some dancers believe that auditioning for roles outside of their “comfort zone” is a waste of time.  In fact, all three choreographers agreed that staying within a “comfort zone” is actually a waste of time.  They encourage dancers to step outside the box and not to limit themselves to only one style of dance.  Trying various styles pushes creativity and gives opportunities to learn new things.   As a dancer, one should always want to grow and challenge their limits.

Final Audition Tips

Have an audition coming up soon? Be prepared.  Research the company and understand what they are looking for.  The night before an audition, eat a good meal and make sure the body is relaxed.  Take a nice bath and try to stay calm, even though that may seem impossible.  Be sure wear dance attire that compliments the body and allows the choreographer to see body movement.  Be energetic, passionate, and personable.   Remember that auditions are an experience in which dancers learn and grow.  Try to enjoy it, and eventually, your hard work will pay off.

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