Audition Best Practices

Happy Fall everyone! Let’s jump right to the point today! Auditions are just around the corner.  This year, we are hearing from more and more dancers asking to not just book sessions for their marketing photos and videos, but for help with planning for the audition season itself. We are having conversations from simple to complex! For example: what leotards work best, skirt or no skirt, and then onto much more substantive questions:

    • Which companies are looking for short dancers? Tall dancers?
    • What types of companies might I be a good fit for?
    • Is it worth it to go to the Grand Audition in Barcelona?
    • Are open or closed auditions the best way to be seen?
    • What should I include in my photos and videos?
    • When and how do I send out emails and follow-ups?
    • How do I plan a trip to Europe?
    • This is my budget; How do I plan all of my auditions? 
    • How do I stand out in a crowd of dancers?
    • What are artistic directors and staff looking for? 
    • How do I keep my spirits, motivation, and determination up throughout the season?
    • How do I audition if I already have a job with another company?
    • I have options! But what do I do?
    • I have no options… What do I do?

It can be a daunting process – we know it well!  The majority of our staff are made up of former dancers.  We’ve been there.  We’ve done it.  And we’re here to help you!   This blog is broken down into pre-audition, audition prep and post audition- enjoy!


Pre-Audition

Research is the key to it all. The more you know about the companies, the better you will be able to target your efforts efficiently. This includes the directors, artistic staff, dancers, financing, repertoire, etc. This will give you a wealth of information: 

  • their business and artistic needs
  • how they prefer you to audition (some companies prefer you to attend open calls as they spend a lot of time and money organizing them)
  • what materials you need to apply
  • where and when to apply
  • who to contact and for what 
  • if you might have mutual connections in your network

Doing your research will also help you choose if you should spend some of your audition budget on travel or if sending in your materials will be better for you.

Putting materials together. Of course, you need a CV/resume, and your best photos and videos. The market is too saturated with dancers to not do everything you can to put your best foot forward. But never underestimate the power of a good cover letter and email. If you are not sure what to say, practice writing a few and show your teacher, parent, or friend. A few things to consider:

  • Does it sound short, sweet, and friendly, but professional?
  • Have you simply repeated the information that is already in your CV?
  • Do you sound like you are fishing for a job? Have you only spoken about you and your interests or are you coming from a place of support for the company?
  • Employers of every type prefer to work with people who share the same mission as the company, or at least understand and support. This is not only about you; this is also about how you can help THEM in their work. (By the way, to get started with your audition filming, here are a few tips!)

Plan out your year. 

  • When do you need your completed materials by? 
  • When will you start emailing for introductions and more information? 
  • Will you be doing any competitions at the same time? 
  • When will your target companies begin auditioning? 
  • Which ones will you try for private auditions, which ones for open? 
  • Will you go for a day or plan to spend a week auditing rehearsals and classes? 
  • What is your travel budget?
  • Do you want to hit Europe as well as the US? 
  • When do you need to have your submissions by?  
  • Do you have a list of what companies have required in the past if they haven’t posted requirements for this year yet?
  • The more you plan then more successful you will be.

 

Support structure.  We have a saying at our studio: “Leave no stone unturned when it comes to your preparation.” 

  • Do you have a weakness with turns or jumps? Make a list and get into the studio every day to accomplish it!  
  • Having trouble knowing when to email and what to say? Get help!  
  • Need to increase your strength and find ease in your upper body? Pilates, cross training, or gyrotonics might be extremely beneficial for you!
  • Having trouble with your confidence? Finding your support structure, whether that be with a professional or your family and friends, is crucial. Don’t put yourself through an already demanding time without a healthy mind. Olympic athletes see sport psychologists, why don’t dancers? “The top six inches of the body matter just as much as the rest.“ – Matthew Cunliffe, Olympic and Paralympic Sport Psychologist (those six inches are referring to your brain).


Audition Day

Confirmation. Always confirm your plans to take class or attend the open audition a few days in advance of the scheduled date. Plans change and you don’t want to show up without a director to watch class!

Take care of your tools. This isn’t referring to just your pointe shoes and leotards, but more importantly your body and mind. 

  • Do what you need to do to get rest. 
  • Eat what you have figured out to be your optimum pre-audition day food. 
  • Do you need to do yoga or meditate to create the right mindset and be ‘ON’ the minute you walk in the door? How will you serve the company?

Hard Copies. Always have hard copies of your materials on hand. This includes photos, CV/resume, cover letter, and music. Yes, have music for your solos/variations easily accessible on your phone, USB flash drive, or CD (some companies will specify which format they prefer). You may be asked to present your variations or improv! You may be asked to leave your materials behind! Always be prepared.

Remember why you dance. This one sounds silly, but we all get nervous. Directors are looking for dancers with personality first. Always. Directors have told Rachel this time and time again, and I believe her! If the light switch has not been turned on, your personality is not on full display, and you cannot grab their attention when you walk into the room, you’ve wasted the opportunity to show these people who you are and what you have to offer. Harsh, but true… You have so much to contribute. Why would you show them only half or less?


Post-Audition

Send a thank you! Such a simple step, but so so so important. A quick email note 24 to 48 hours after the audition is not only polite but shows them one more time how interested you are in achieving their vision. Embed a copy of your headshot or body shot to remind them which dancer you were, and pick something relevant (and genuine!) to say about what happened in the class/interview. ‘Thanks for the class’ isn’t enough, nor do you want to write a long letter. Three to four well-chosen sentences is more than likely the right length and will leave a lasting impression.

Check in. About two weeks after the audition, if you haven’t heard from them yet, follow up. Everyone in a dance company is wearing many hats… they are busy. Make it easy for them to remember and hire you! 

Keep going. If it’s going to take you 50 auditions to get a job, then 1, 2, 10… 15 No’s mean that you’re already 30% of the way to that YES! Keep your eye on the prize; know that sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time, and put all of your energy out there. It’s often that thing that gets a dancer the job when you’re doubting everything and don’t believe it will happen.

Don’t compare your journey to others. This is so hard to do with the prominence of social media in our daily lives. We all have our own time, our own path, our own successes, and our own failures. The pressures around youth and time in the dance world are very real, especially in the US. But know that just as many dancers are getting their first jobs at 21/22/23 as are dancers who are younger. 

 

There is just so much more to this process than we can write in one blog post… If you need help with any of these areas, give us a call to book your audition consultation or photo/video shoot!

 

 

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