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Hey Sugarworld! Summer is a great time to create new dance goals for next season. One of your goals might be to join a competition team, make a new team, go for a part in the Nutcracker, or be chosen for specialty groups that your studio might have. At most studios, that means auditions! Many of us think that auditions are for the professional world, but almost all studios and ballet companies hold auditions for students. You might be wondering; how do I prepare for auditions?
My name is Ellie and I am 14 years old, and I have been on a competition team since I was five years old. I have been auditioning every season since I have been 5 for our competition teams, specialty roles, and in the last two years for the Nutcracker Ballet where I earned the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy en pointe. I have also been attending workshops since I was 7 years old where you also audition as part of the workshop experience. This past year, I started auditioning for summer intensives at ballet companies. Auditions are a part of the dance community no matter how old you are and even if you are just a student. But, along the way, I have learned a few things about auditions and how to prepare for them that I would like to share with you.
- Come prepared! Make sure you are dressed in proper dance clothes. When in doubt, wear a black leotard and pink convertible tights. Bring black bootie shorts to wear over your leotard and tights for styles other than ballet. Also, make sure you have appropriate shoes. Even if your studio doesn’t require them, have them anyway. You will always want ballet shoes, tap shoes, turners, jazz shoes, and tennis shoes. When I went to my first summer intensive audition for a ballet company, the teacher had asked us to put on jazz shoes for the jazz portion. Most of the class did not have jazz shoes and he definitely voiced his opinion on the importance of always having proper shoes for specific styles. While many competition studios perform jazz in a turner, in the professional dance community, jazz shoes are required. Wear your hair in a high or low bun. Skip the bun form and learn how to do a proper ballet bun! Wear light makeup, which includes blush, mascara, and a very light and natural lipstick. No jewelry.
Always remember that the moment you walk in a room, the teachers or panel are already watching you. Coming to an audition in proper clothes, shoes, and hair to give a great first impression.
- Find your spot! Often when learning the audition combinations, you are in a room full of dancers. While everyone might be vying for the front of the room, find a spot that allows you to see and have room to dance. During the learning section of an audition, the most important thing is to learn the combination. You cannot do that if the front of the room is crowded with no space. Hang tight! You will get your chance during the small group audition to show them your stuff. Teachers are always impressed with smart dancers! Smart dancers don’t crowd the front to be seen when they cannot dance full out. I promise you, the teachers notice the dancers that dance full out over the dancers who crowd the front. If you are in a workshop setting, be on the side of the room where the audio and computer is. Teachers tend to be center but often because of controlling music, will navigate to the side where the music is.
- Stay Focused! You will have a short period of time to learn the audition combination and it will go fast. Utilize every moment to keep learning. If the room is broken down into groups, make sure you are marking the dance on the side, but be respectful of space. Do not take up the space of the dancers whose turn it is to be dancing. If you have a question, ask! One thing I really like to do in an audition is to find that one dancer in the room that is standing out! Remember, being a smart dancer is important. I will find that great dancer and dance behind them kiddie corner. I am never intimidated by them or worried about them overshadowing me. They push me. It is not always easy to see the teacher, so it offers me someone to keep an eye on that might know the combination better than me.
- Be a good student! Of course, teachers are looking for great dancers, but more importantly they are looking for great students. During the time when you are learning the combinations, teachers don’t have the time to individually make corrections, so assume that every correction given to the room, applies to you and fix it right away. Remember, you are being watched from the moment you step into the room, while you take class and learn combinations, and during the actual audition process. Make every moment count! If you are doing team auditions, remember that they already know what kind of dancer you are, so show them something new in class. Team auditions can feel like a regular class and social, but you want to show your teachers that you are growing and maturing and are taking their time and your time seriously. This will often be the difference between a dancer being moved up to a more advanced team.
- AUDITION TIME! Usually what will happen during the actual audition is dancers will audition the combinations in small groups. Depending on the number of dancers, it could be a group of 20 or a group of 3. This is your time to shine so take full advantage of it! The most important thing during the audition process is to keep dancing! If you miss a step, flow through it and pick it back where you can. They aren’t looking for pure perfection. Sometimes, the dancer that is so focused on remembering every step isn’t showing any personality and will get completely looked over, while the dancer who is dancing full out with tons of personality but messed up the combination is chosen! BE YOURSELF!! Show them who you are. Dance full out! When you are done, you should be asking yourself; did I leave everything on the dance floor?
If auditions are for your studio, remember that they already know the type of dancer you are and if it is like most studios, they just saw you dance at nationals 3 weeks ago! Use the audition time to show them something new in all the styles you are auditioning. This is a time to show them that you have taken the full season and nationals to learn and grow and now is your time to show them.
- Be thankful! Make sure you personally walk up to the teachers and thank them at the end of each class. Look them in the eye and thank them. Even if it is at your own studio, makes sure you personally thank the teacher who taught the class. During the auditions you will be excused. Do not leave the room until you are excused, but when you are, say thank you and nod your head. This is a sign of respect. Always respect the people who took the time to teach you!
EXTRA TIP! During the summer, it’s easy to want to take time off from dance. I know I like the break. I dance 14 hours a week, assist 4 hours a week, and like all of you, go to school and I love the break that summer affords me, but always make sure that you are taking ballet between the end of the season and your auditions. If your studio doesn’t offer summer ballet, find a place that does. Ballet will keep you in dance shape and keep your technique on point. You don’t have to be in class every day like the dance season, but a weekly class, or summer intensives will help you stand out from those that didn’t take ballet during their break. Ballet is the foundation of all dance and will help you audition better in all styles!