Exclusive Audition Advice
In Dance Spirit's February issue, we highlight 45 companies looking to hire in our annual Audition Guide. But that's not all. We also asked 5 industry insiders to offer tips for making the most of each audition you attend. We printed our favorites in the magazine, but there's so much more great advice where that came from, so we couldn't resist posting the rest here.
Before the Audition:
"Taking various styles of dance will help you be physically prepared. Then, studying videos and taking workshops, if available, will help give you a good idea of what type of movement to expect." —Nile H. Russell, co-dance captain for Pilobolus
"My audition starts from the moment I hear about it. I research everything from the time period to the creative team. In general, preparing should be fun! Enjoy practicing an open mind and learning any and everything." —Cassie Silva, ensemble, Rock of Ages
"Eat a good, healthy meal and get a good night’s rest the day before." —Adé Chike Torbert, commercial dancer, “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 7
What to Wear:
"Wear what you feel comfortable in, because that will shine more than any stand-out leotard. Consider the kind of company you’re auditioning for. Is it classical or contemporary? You want to look like you’ll fit in with the other dancers. And don't hide your body!" —Jacquelyn Long, Houston Ballet corps de ballet
"Check the audition call sheet for the 'suggested attire' and research the show, company or gig to make sure you're dressed appropriately. If I were auditioning for concert dance I'd stick with the industry standard of all black attire." —Sean Rozanski, dancer, Giordano Dance Chicago
"I've been known to wear some wacky outfits to auditions. I try to give whoever I'm auditioning for an appropriately clear view of who I'm portraying. It can be simple and timeless, or a pair of big glasses for a character role. This is where preparation comes in handy. If all else fails, look and feel comfortable in your skin." —Cassie Silva
Calming Your Nerves:
"On audition day, try to arrive at least 30 minutes early. This will give you time to stretch, calm your nerves and get acquainted with the space." —Nile H. Russell
"I like to channel my energy by doing push ups. It's a win win situation, because by the time I’m finished, I'm relaxed and I look great. Also, I bring music to listen to before the audition begins. I have two audition-day playlists on my iPhone: one that calms my nerves and another that pumps me up." —Adé Chike Torbert
"Try to translate any audition-day jitters into excitement and adrenaline. Focus on yourself, and avoid checking out the competition." —Jacquelyn Long
"Take deep breaths, relax and remind yourself that this is what you work so hard for. This is what you love to do. Also know that if the audition doesn't go well there will always be another opportunity. Learn to take rejection and strive to work even harder the next time." —Sean Rozanski
During the Audition:
"Think of auditions as a free class. It’s not about being better than everyone else in the room; it’s about doing the best you can, learning something new and growing as a dancer and an artist. Let yourself enjoy the experience and be present in the process. Show them that you’re not there just to get a job, but because you’re passionate about what you do." —Nile H. Russell
"Be eager and remember, a smile is worth a thousand words. A director can see if you look like you really want the job and factor that into your audition. Sometimes we don’t even realize what emotion we’re portraying in class. Take a step back to think not only about your technique, but about what message you’re projecting." —Jacquelyn Long
"A positive attitude, great work ethic, confidence and a big helping of graciousness should be among your daily audition vitamins. Having an opportunity to audition is already a great accomplishment and a wonderful gift, so put your best foot forward!" —Cassie Silva
What's more daunting than getting into your dream college dance program? Figuring out how you'll cover the costs of tuition, room and board, incidental expenses and more. Here's the good news: The right scholarship(s) can bring your dream school well within reach.
Look Around, Look Around
Scholarship applications are due between the fall of senior year and graduation time, so familiarize yourself with funding opportunities during the spring of junior year. And there are a lot of opportunities out there, says Kate Walker, chair of dance at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX. "A lot of school guidance counselors now have software that automatically matches you with scholarships," she says.
Seek out scholarships on your own, too. According to Walker, "a lot of corporations are required to have some community engagement, including offering scholarships, so research corporations in your community." Your parents' employers might offer assistance too, says Doug Long, an academic and college counselor at Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, MI. "They might have scholarships you can apply for just because your parent works there."
Other sources of grant money you won't have to pay back (as you would a loan)? The YoungArts Foundation; competitions/conventions, like New York City Dance Alliance; and the university or dance department you're applying to. Even some scholarships aimed at athletes are open to dancers!
A winning scholarship application involves a fair amount of paperwork, especially if the organization requires you to show financial need. In addition, certain scholarships ask for the College Board's CSS/Financial Aid Profile, which gives the awarding organization a more complete picture of your family finances.
Other ingredients of a successful scholarship application include recommendation letters, a dance and/or academic resumé and an essay or statement of purpose. Treat these components just like college applications: Have multiple trusted adults proofread your materials, and ask for recommendation letters or transcripts long before deadlines.
A note for non-dance scholarships: Including objective measures of achievement can only help you. "List national recognitions, like YoungArts or other competitions," says Long. "That shows the scholarship committees that people at high levels have acknowledged you as an artist of quality." And don't forget who your audience is. "Especially in writing samples, make sure you paint a vivid picture for your reader," Walker says. "Don't assume they know about all the things—like barre every day—that we as dancers take for granted."
No award amount is too small to be worth your time and effort. As Walker says, "Don't pooh-pooh a couple hundred dollars in award money, because any scholarship is funding that you didn't have yesterday."
A version of this story appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "All Aboard the Scholar-ship."
Every ballet dancer knows the time, sweat, and occasional tears the art form demands. But many non-dancers are clueless about just how much work a ballet dancer puts into perfecting his or her dancing. So when the mainstream crowd recognizes our crazy work ethic, we'll accept the round of applause any way it comes—even if it comes via four men in tutus. Yep, we're talking about "The Try Guys Try Ballet" video.
Remember that fabulous old-school clip of dancers tapping in pointe shoes that Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo brought to our attention back in March? As we mentioned then, toe-tap dancing was actually super popular back in the 1920s and 30s—which means there are more videos where that one came from. And because #ToeTapTuesday has a nice ring to it, we thought we'd take this opportunity to introduce you to Dick and Edith Barstow, a toe-tapping brother and sister duo from that era who are nothing short of incredible:
Guess who's back? Back again? The Academy's back! Tell a friend.
After one day at The Academy, the All Stars have successfully taken the Top 100 down to 62. But their work is just getting started: Now they need to keep narrowing the field to a Top 10, ultimately deciding who each will partner with during the live shows.
We've said it before and we'll say it again: New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns is some SERIOUS #goals. Her strength and power onstage borders on superhuman. But what's extra magical about Mearns is that she really puts in the fitness and cross-training work outside of the rehearsal studio. And she's overcome her fair share of injuries. Which is why she was the perfect source for Vogue's latest ballet fitness story.