Upcoming auditions and how to get seen there (and in class!)
Auditioning. For working dancers, it’s both nerve-wracking and unavoidable. It can be demoralizing to think that two or three out of a packed “cattle call” audition room may be cast or hired -- and that you might not be one of those two or three, even if you give it your all and do great. Some things directors are looking for are within your control, and those are skills that you can work at and take responsibility for. Some of those things (such as typecasting) aren’t. At the same time, are there still gifts to be gained from these experiences, even if you don’t “get the job”? Can you hone your skills for future editions, make fruitful contacts and friends, and even simply have a stellar time dancing?
Let’s take a closer look, with the insights of two astute artists -- Emily Bufferd, founding director of the Young Choreographer’s Festival and NYC-based choreographer/dance educator; and Nadia Khayrallah, member of Dance/NYC’s Junior Committee and NYC-based choreographer and performer. Additionally, read on for a list of 10 upcoming auditions! And don’t forget to dress your best, to present a fully professional image and feel confident. For some great options, check out the latest audition wear at sodanca.com.
#1. Pay attention and execute the choreography as closely to what’s presented as possible. But if you can’t get all the details, make your own choices and commit to them.
Demonstrating your unique skills does not mean that anything goes. “Listening skills as a dancer are so important,” Bufferd says. “If you are asked for something specific, then please do what has been asked for.” She gives this example -- you’re asked to do a double pirouette, and instead do five revolutions. Rather than impressing the director/choreographer with your turning abilities, you’ve most likely just shown them “that you don't listen,” which could cost you the gig, she affirms.
On the other hand, there can certainly be times in auditions when you don’t retain a particular nuance of the choreography, or even part of a phrase -- which is completely different than knowingly choosing to do something different than what the artist leading the audition has asked for. In these cases, Khayrallah advocates for making concerted choices and sticking to them. She shares that “getting the clearest and fullest idea of what the movement is and committing to my choices with unwavering focus” has benefited her in auditions when she might not have the choreography fully in her body yet. That can be addressed later, she believes. At the same time, she also advocates for “tuning into details and asking questions where appropriate.”
#2. Be yourself, which includes presenting your unique artistry.
“Auditions or sending in submissions can often put dancers on edge, which doesn't always showcase who they really are as a person or dancer,” Bufferd says. “It's important to show the people you're hoping to work with who you really are.”
To improve at presenting one’s unique artistry, and even putting yourself at ease a bit in auditions, Khayrallah strongly encourages dancers to develop their improvisational skills. For one, many auditions include an improvisation portion. It can be a key chance to “display your unique range of skills, movement qualities, and creative choices,” she believes. “The more that improvisation is a part of your regular practice, the less your impulses will be thrown by nerves in a high-stakes setting.” For instance, for her, improvising more regularly in solo performances allowed her to be both more daring and at-ease while improvising in auditions.
#3. Be your best self; be polite and give absolutely all you can.
Bufferd advises auditioning dancers to give it 100 percent or more. “You may not be right for that specific job, but you'll likely be well-remembered if you always offer yourself wholeheartedly,” she asserts. If you’re polite to all you encounter during the audition process, you may very well be remembered for that as well. “Say hello to the person at the door, be cordial to the other dancers auditioning, and thank everyone (as best as you're able) for their offering, time and consideration,” Bufferd recommends.
Khayrallah encourages dancers to remember that even though one’s focus might (quite understandably) be on oneself and one’s performance in an audition context, “you’re likely also dancing alongside other current and future choreographers, directors and creative partners. Classes and auditions can be an opportunity for peer-to-peer networking, if you approach them with a friendly and professional energy.” She attests to personally meeting artists with whom she’s danced with and for, and collaborated on work with, at auditions.
#4. Feel confident in your audition look. You can be stylish but still be yourself!
An audition is a first impression. So you want to present yourself in a clean, professional way. This means no tights with runs, no big toes poking out of shoes, no messy top knot. Be sure to stock up on new tights and footwear from Só Dança. (Did you know the dancewear brand carries tights in 10 different color shades?!)
And while you certainly want to stand out in a crowd, it’s also important that you show your true self at an audition. Feel and look confident, and indulge, in a new audition look for this season. Maybe it’s a new gorgeous, lacey leotard from Só Dança’s Sara Mearns Collection, or the stylish Long Sleeve Crop Top Cover-Up with Thumb Holes. And these High Waisted Leggings will show off your lines and a bit of your fun personality! These styles are great for both students auditioning for a summer intensive and for professionals looking to book a big gig.
#5. Think beyond the audition. It’s in no way over that day!
Krayrallah underscores how, although some dancers do get hired or cast solely from an audition, what’s far more common is “that auditioning is just one step in establishing a professional relationship.” Given that, she recommends connecting more closely with companies that you’re interested in through taking class, seeing their work and introducing yourself.
If you don’t get the job, Khayrallah recommends following up with interest in the company and its work, and then demonstrating that interest through continued attendance in class and at performances, and other types of engagement with their work (such as community-based events). Bufferd adds perspective by pointing out that if you didn’t “get the gig”, at least you had a great time dancing! “The worst that happens is you don't get the job, and while that can certainly be disappointing, it's important to also enjoy the opportunity to be in the room,” she affirms.
10 Upcoming Auditions
Audition in NYC on March 16. For more, click here.
#2. American Contemporary Ballet
Auditions in New York and Los Angeles for the 2020 season. For details, click here.
#3. Pacific Northwest Ballet
Company auditions held through March 2020. For details, click here.
#4. Whim W’him
Audition in NYC on March 7. For more, click here.
#5. ODC/Dance in San Francisco
Auditions on March 8 and April 5. Visit www.odc.dance/calendar/auditions.
#6. YY Dance Company Summer Intensive and Audition
Currently taking applications. Click here for more.
#7. Smashworks Dance Collective
Auditions on March 15. Click here for more.
#8. KADA Dance
Audition/Workshop on February 29. For more, click here.
#9. Sydney Dance Company
Invite-only audition, March 29 and 30. For more details, click here.
#10. Alonzo King LINES Ballet
Auditions on March 26, in San Francisco, by invitation from submission. Click here, for more.