Jazz sneakers – tick. Heels – tick. Knee pads – tick. CV and photo – tick. Sheet music – tick. Towel – tick. Big bottle of still water – tick. 2 bananas – tick. Make up – tick. Hair brush and hairspray – tick. Am I ready? Well if not now, when will I be!?
Years ago, this was alien to me, leaving college, heading into the big wide world, not really knowing what I was to expect. During the last term of my professional training in London, we were allowed to head out to auditions, to get a feel, to start to learn the ropes, to gain experience and to learn how dance auditions actually work. Yes, learn, there is that word again that should never ever leave your head and heart, no matter how long you have been at it. Learn all the things that you need to know about what you need when doing dance auditions, to learn the experience of it, to learn what is required, it is your obligation to your art. No one can teach this, don’t get me wrong, plenty of us are out there who can give tips and advice (like I am here) on what to expect and by all means, listen and take on board as much as you can, but the key is, get up and do it yourself.
A dance call is a completely different kettle of fish to that of an individual singing call and in my humble opinion, having been both sides of the desk, I feel these few tips will help you along the way. Whether you are new at it, have been going for years and need a little reminder so you take nothing for granted or just need reassurance of a guide line to help you grab the moment. Execute them well and no mattter what the outcome is, at least you will have the feeling that you have done your best and that is the most you can ask for.
10 tips towards delivering successful dance auditions
1) Breakfast! – Even though you have most probably had a bit of a sleepness night with nerves and it is the last thing you want, make sure you eat a good breakfast and eat it early enough.
2) Appearance – This is VERY, (did I mention the word VERY?) important. It is that old school theme, but for dance it works every time, be polished in your look. Body hugging attire that shows your physique, preferably in a colour that you are comfy wearing and that attracts attention (it jogs the memory of the team later on in the day, as they will be seeing a lot of your sorts and on mass at that!) When auditioning for dance, the team will no doubt want to see what physique you have, do you have a tight six pack, how is your technique, how do you physically tackle the choreography. Remember: no technique means injuries :0( And this has alarm bells all over it when you are required to do eight shows a week. Make sure ladies, that your make up is well prepped, not heavy, but definately enough to enhance your features, this helps the team get an idea of how your face presents itself in a crowd of people and if you have long hair or hair that hangs in your face, tie it back, so your face is open . You need to present as much as possible with your look. Plus, hair in the face whilst dancing will get on your nerves, as well as the team’s.
3) An over-crowded dance studio – and not enough space to dance! Everyone has the same idea – “get to the front, so I can see what is being taught and can nail the choreo.” Well, this I understand, but a good and fair choreographer will want to find good dancers and when it is a crowded affair, they will most likely switch lines during the audition so everyone can see what is going on, or in other scenarios, send half of the room away and tackle 2 groups, this will lead to possibly teaching the combi fast.
4) The combination is taught fast – buckle up and focus. This does happen, not all the time, but it does happen. Pay attention, listen, look, learn, take note of the style immediately and copy that what is being shown, it is for a reason, it is what is required for that particular production. A choreographer will be looking for this immediately. Are you a person that can pick up this style, would you fit in the show?
5) Think for yourself – This is an obvious one I know, but if you are not used to doing this, I can guarantee you are what is known as a “late dancer”. The reason? Well if you don’t think for yourself, it means you are not focused on yourself, you are focused on the other people around you in the studio, are you worried you are not good enough? Are you checking the others out? You will be looking at those “other people” and copying their movements and not thinking and executing the movements yourself. Copying others means your movements will be a beat behind the real time choreography – you will be dancing late and no doubt have a blank expession on your face.
6) Questions – If something is not clear: ask! If the choreographer does not switch lines and you still have no clue to the steps and are learning them from copying your neighbour standing in front of you, ask to switch lines. Questions are mostly always welcome and even if you’re not the one asking them, still listen, the answer will most definately help, even if you know the answer already.
7) The Rounds – Ok, the choreography has been taught, it’s now time for the elimination rounds. Pending on the size of the studio and the amount of people, this will happen in smaller groups done mostly with 3-6 people. The process? One mostly gets to dance the routine twice through, but not always, (so be mega the first time just in case). If a second dance through happens, the back line and front line exchange positions and normally you will dance the combi through immediately one time after the other with a tiny break to establish the new staging. This is the point to show what you really have. The style, the technique, the look, think for yourself, catch the teams eyes, even if you make a mistake, pick it up and get back in. The worst thing you can do is to walk away, I can most definately say this is not good, it shows that you have tendencies in giving up, one cannot walk away during a performance, so why do it now. As the Noel Coward saying goes: “The show must go on!”. And you have to do exactly that.
8) After you have danced, stay on place until a team member says thank you. You will be out of breath, control it, keep your stance, look strong, don’t collapse on the floor, no matter how tired you are. Look positive and open. In dance auditions, eliminations happen fast and you want to get through to the next round, right?
9) Until you are called up for your elimination round, a good audition etiquette to have is: never stand at the back of the studio, always stand on the sides and never dance full out until it is your turn. It distracts the team and is very disrespectful to the people who are on at that point. Keep warm, keep your brain focused on the routine and dance the choreo with your toes in your shoes, at the most with light arms movements only. This helps the team so much, believe me. AND before I forget – don’t chat. If all are chatting, it is very noisy.
10) At the end – So, the first (and maybe only) part is over, all candidates have danced and you hear “the following people please stay to sing”: it’s that moment, the next bout of butterflies in your tummy appears but here goes. 1) Your name is called out, keep your focus, get ready to sing, keep warm, a tip, it may be a good idea to keep your dance clothes on, in case you have to dance again (one can always ask) but it jogs the memory of the team when you come back into the studio in the same look you had during the dance round (if you get called back to an individual call that is a different story). 2) If your name is not called out, it doesn’t mean to say you have done a bad audition, you may just simply not be the ideal person the show requires. Let it go, carry on and exit with pride. One of the key things in this profession is to be able to deal with rejection and carry on, it shows strength of character and one day you will get that foot through the door.
An extra tip: A question I’m often asked is, “how do I learn quick pick up? Are there classes?” Personally, I have never in my life heard of a “quick pick up class” and I’m not sure how one would do this other than the obvious, but surely one can get that in a normal class? My simple advice: practise, the more classes you do with different teachers and choroegraphers with their own individual styles and the more auditions you do, the easier it becomes, (it never becomes easy, but easier). The more you get used to doing this process, the more you can really dig your heels in and travel the many levels needed to having a successful audition.
On that note, wishing you all the best for your future auditions and looking forward to seeing you out there one day,