Auditioning Tips for the Young Dancer
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Auditioning Tips for the Young Dancer

Editor's note: Today’s blog is presented by Hartt School Community Division Dance Department Ballet Master Susannah Marchese. 

Dance students at The Hartt School Community Division

Auditions will be required at some point during the training of young dancers. Although the thought of auditioning can sometimes lead to stress or anxiety on the part of the dancer, knowing what to expect, and how best to prepare, can reduce that anxiety level considerably. Today’s blog addresses a number of items that will help young dancers be as prepared as possible when auditions are imminent.

  • Be in your best shape. This is optimal, but not always realistic. Plan ahead and decide which auditions you will attend as early as possible. This way you can better gauge what kind of shape you’ll need to be in and how best to prepare. (For example: many summer dance auditions happen in January and February. Traditionally this is an off-time after a long Nutcracker season and may be a difficult time to be in shape.)

  • Preparation. When you are auditioning for a specific role, do your homework! Knowing the history and background of your role will prepare you to ask and answer questions and to feel comfortable with the role. More than likely, you are auditioning for space in summer or full-year dance programs. In these cases, dancers are probably taking a class while being observed by a school director or faculty member. Dancers must remember to not only show the very best of their technique, but also to learn quickly, to be “teachable”, and to show enthusiasm.

  • Arrival time. For most auditions, there is a registration period approximately 30 minutes before the audition call time. This is a time for you to give your name, paperwork, and payment to whomever is taking the registration. It is always good to arrive with enough time to register, warm up, and make yourself presentable.

  • Appropriate clothing. If a dress code has not been provided, a female student should wear a leotard that she feels beautiful in, stays put, is appropriate in what it reveals, and compliments the dancer’s physique. Do not wear skirts or leg warmers, keep hair neat or in a bun or twist, and wear only small (or no) earrings and no extra jewelry. Male dancers should wear a neat form-fitting shirt or men’s leotard, tights with no holes or rips, and clean shoes. In other words, your tidiest and best you!

  • Resumes and Photos. In general, we rarely see resumes in the non-professional arena. Student auditions typically require that each participant complete an audition form that includes training information and other pertinent details. Photos are a must—typically in arabesque and in tendu seconde, and possibly a headshot.

  • Expect multi-genre. Because so many professional dance companies produce works in all areas (ballet, contemporary, modern, avant-garde, etc.), today’s dancers must be well trained in all these areas. The well-trained dancer will stand out, no matter the genre.

  • Sleep and Nutrition. Get rest and sleep well before an audition. This will help reduce stress and allow you to be at your best. Eat a good meal and arrive at the audition with some nutrition in your system.

  • Nerves. Nerves can sometimes get in the way, but it helps to remember that you’re learning about “them,” just as much as they are learning about you. How do the people running the audition make you feel? Are they friendly? Welcoming? Complimentary? As a dancer, you are trying to decide if the school is a good fit. Being prepared can also help allay nervousness. Stay positive! No matter what, this is another experience under your belt.

  • Expect the unexpected. Have several little “emergency” bags filled and ready for use. Examples of emergency items are band aids, toe spacers, toe tape, sports tape, lambs wool, extra toe pads, hair pins, hair spray, an energy bar, water bottle, mint, or small hard candy. Extra dance clothes (tights and leotards, for example) are a good idea, as are several pairs of pointe shoes (if auditioning on pointe).

  • Value of frequent auditions. The more you audition, the easier it gets. Young dancers should be excited about auditioning and work toward positive experiences, all the way around.

  • Mindset. The mindset of auditioning is as important as physical readiness. Students of all ages should feel that auditioning well is a necessary skill that can be honed with experience, proper coaching, and training. Auditioners get nervous when they don’t feel prepared or if they really want to get a particular position or role (there is more at stake). Be prepared, relax, have fun, and do your best. The rest will shine through.

We hope today’s blog addresses your questions about being prepared for auditions, and of course, we are always willing to offer assistance if there are additional questions about a future audition.