Eeeek; it’s audition season! Whether you’re looking for a summer intensive or next season’s contract, here are a few things I wish I had known earlier in the process.
Arrive EARLY — double and triple check registration + class times and allow plenty of margin in your schedule (both before and after)
Bring the appropriate materials — do you need photos? Which ones? first arabesque? tendu in second? headshot? do you need to bring a resume? letter of recommendation? It’s handy to bring a file with several copies of all these documents, just in case.
Look the part — How you present yourself is the first thing auditioners notice. Pay attention to the dress code for the school/company you’re auditioning for (some places ask specifically for black leotards and/or pink tights). A little makeup is a good idea. I always like to wear a little something in my hair so I don’t look like a clone of everyone else. Simple earrings add a nice finishing touch as well—leave the bracelets and necklaces at home though.
*company auditions are a little more lenient. Be sure to wear something that shows your lines clearly and you are comfortable in. Shorter dancers might want to wear stirrup or footed tights to lengthen your lines. I prefer non-sleeved leotards with open necklines but whatever floats your boat and helps you feel confident. Keep in mind that the auditioners want to see your technique clearly.
Pay attention to details — notice which port de bra the teacher uses, where his/her head is, is the accent in or out, up or down? Is it a chasse or a pique into those chaines? spotting front or the corner? Little things make a difference and don’t go unnoticed. Be sure to be ready and in the right numerical order when it’s your group’s turn to go.
Try not to size people up — we all do it: walk in before registration and look around. Oh, she has a messy bun and her pictures are all crinkled up. Surely I’ll look good next to her. They go to the line for a number, we go to the line for a number. We get to the class and realize that messy-bun-crinkled-photo girl has crazy extension and can turn like a top. Then the poor girl on the other side of you can’t remember the combo to save her life. You try to stay closer to her than messy-bun. — Just don’t do it. When you start looking at other dancers and comparing yourself, your mind is not focused on where it’s supposed to be. You can look at your fellow dancers and learn from them but don’t let comparison steal the joy of your dance. Instead look for positive qualities and offer encouragement to your classmates.
Be yourself— I used go into auditions, look at the girl across from me at barre and notice she was doing her tendus with a different impetus or see that other girl doing a different port de bra. Immediately I doubted myself and started to change the way I danced. Other times, I would try to dance the way I thought “they” wanted. My insecurity was causing me to lose my artistic integrity and I wasn’t having fun (nor were they seeing the real me). Yes, pay attention to details and apply corrections but also trust the technique you’ve been taught and don’t be afraid to let it shine through (even if you’re different than the dancer next to you). Relax and have fun — you dance because you love it; let it show in your facial expressions + body language. You don’t have to cheese it up nor is it a good idea to be overeager. Remember you’re an artistic athlete; It’s always pleasant and refreshing to see someone enjoying the moment.
Don’t let rejection letters define you or tell you your worth — Your identity doesn’t lie in the opinions of others. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad dancer if your “dream” school/company says no (but it might mean you have stuff to work on). Look at rejections as confirmation that you weren’t supposed to go there this summer or be hired into that environment. Also know that there are a lot of factors that have nothing to do with your dancing that go into these decisions (height, age, how your aesthetic gels with already existing company members, how many contracts/spaces are available, what next season’s rep and/or budget looks like, etc). I know this doesn’t ease the sting or mend hurt feelings but be resilient and stay positive. Take every audition as a learning experience —Stay teachable; if you put forth 100% effort and learned something, I’d count the audition as a win.
Jesus will make it clear where you are supposed to go — Pray. Listen to the wisdom of your teachers. Pray again. Look at your financial situation. Pray some more. In the end, it’ll be clear; Jesus has got your back and knows exactly where He needs you to shine His light.
Start praying for your roommate now —I was so nervous the first time I went away to Joffrey South and didn’t know anyone. But God answered the prayers of my parents and I through, Laura. We ended up going to Pittsburgh together the next year and are still good friends today. You might not end up being besties with them but remember the bigger story; God put you in each other’s lives for a reason.
May you dance in the confidence that comes from an identity grounded in Jesus. May you act with grace toward your fellow dancers (even if they cut you off or take your barre spot or snub you). May you shine the light of Jesus in a dark world as you pursue excellence and trust Him to light your path.
Hope this helps. Feel free to drop me a line with any updates or leave a comment with some tips of your own. Know that we're cheering you on and praying for you. Happy dancing!