So you’ve just caught wind of what sounds like an amazing performance opportunity and you’re feeling the initial stir of excitement when you realize that you’re totally eligible and available to audition for it. If you’re anything like me, that realization quickly turns to mild panic as you contemplate how on earth you’re going to show up and successfully strut your stuff in a room that might be filled with 100 other dancers or at the very least a few seemingly menacing faces staring at you from across the audition table. So here are five key things to remember before you step into that room:
Be as prepared as possible. The more prepared you are the less likely it is that your nerves will take over. You may want to take a dance class to brush up if you’re feeling rusty. Read the audition notice carefully. What have they asked you to bring? Have they asked for specific clothing or shoes? Your hair should be neatly off of your face and you might want to wear a bit of makeup. Consider how you would look if this were a performance - because it is a performance! Arrive early and bring something that you can warm up in. Go ahead and put in your earphones and listen to whatever pumps you up or calms your nerves while you wait.
Don’t obsess over the things that have nothing to do with your performance. (ie. The colour of your outfit, or whether you wore a bun or ponytail.) If you can move comfortably and they can see your body lines and your face then that is all that matters. Note: If you receive a callback, then within reason, you should try to look the same as you did at the first audition. They will let you know if they would like to see something different.
The auditors staring at you from across the table are actually rooting for you! Say hello to them. They don’t want you to be nervous. They want you to relax and then smash it! ...And on that note, ‘messing up’ the choreography doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve ruined your chances. While perfecting the steps is great, it’s so much more than that. They are looking at your musicality, your facial expressions and emotional connection to the movement. Are you getting(and staying) in character? What are you communicating through the movement?
Always view it as a growing experience and a networking experience. Whether or not you book the gig, you’ve gotten i) a free dance class, ii) tips for what to do or what not to do next time and iii) you should have at least made a connection with a couple of other dancers that you did not know beforehand. - I have booked some great gigs and made new friends just by smiling and saying hello because the next time I bumped into that person, we exchanged info and a few months later when an opportunity came along they thought of me.
Whether or not you book the gig is not necessarily an indication of your level of talent. In other words, there are so many politics surrounding casting a show and most of it is completely out of your control. It has much to do with factors such as height, costuming, blending with other cast members, etc. and several other things that you cannot alter and may as well not even worry about. Your job is to do your best. As I always say, leave it all on the floor! After that your job is done. If the opportunity arises to audition again, take it. You have nothing to lose. If they bring you back then that means that they like you. Maybe it’s a whole new production and although there wasn’t a spot for you in the previous one, they want to consider you for a spot in this new one. You just don’t know, so go ahead and throw yourself in.
If you can remember these things and apply them you’ll be just fine. Your hard work and perseverance will pay off. Hold your head high and keep on dancing....and definitely bring a bottle of water!
Trudy Lee Gayle
Photography by Aleia Robinson-Ada of AR4Photography
Trudy Lee Gayle is an Artistic Faculty Member at Inica Dance Industries, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours degree in Dance from York University. Gayle is a certified barre fitness instructor, and has had the privilege of studying with artists who have been members of some of North America’s most influential dance companies such as Philadanco, Martha Graham Dance Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballroom Dance Theater, Toronto Dance Theatre and The National Ballet of Canada.