How To Work The Return Audition
You prepared endlessly for an audition for a fab show or company. You made it through the first two cuts (hooray!), but you didn’t get the gig (boo!). Don’t be discouraged: Another call for the same job may pop up again soon, and you should be ready to try out for it. Perhaps this time the artistic team is looking for replacements, casting an additional leg of a tour or has completely different needs. DS spoke to three pros to get the scoop on the dos and don’ts of a return audition.
DO evaluate your initial audition
After your first audition, examine your performance and consider the skills that were required of you. Then brush up on the areas where you lacked strength. Brandon Bryant, a finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 5, auditioned twice before landing a spot on the show. But he took cues from his first tryout to enhance his performance in the second. “In the audition for Season 4, I realized I needed to learn more about all styles, from ballroom to Broadway,” he says. “I took classes before the next audition to increase my vocabulary.”
You’ll also want to evaluate your initial outfit. Bob Cline, NYC casting director for the national tours of Hairspray and Cabaret, says to “do a comparison with the other dancers in the room. Ask yourself, ‘Did I stand out too much or not enough? Was my outfit appropriate for the job?’ Then, ask a friend you trust for her opinion on your look.” If your previous outfit passes these tests, wear it again—the choreographer might remember “the talented girl in the green dress.”
In addition, think about the roles you’re auditioning for. Are you sure you’re trying out for the part you’re right for versus the one you’d like to play? Perhaps at the return audition you’ll aim for the role of the quirky best friend instead of the lead vixen. “You can position yourself better each time you come back,” Cline says.
DON'T act overly familiar
Although you met the artistic team at the first tryout, don’t talk to them as you would your friends. “Say hello professionally and quickly,” Cline says. “You don’t want to be the girl who needs to get noticed. You want to get noticed for your talent and professionalism.”
If you want to thank the artistic team after an audition, Cline suggests sending a handwritten card in the mail. “Unless they personally give you their e-mail address, never contact someone online,” he says. Carli Samuelson, a corps member of Pacific Northwest Ballet, adds, “Let the point person know when you’re in the area and ask if you can take company class to stay in the artistic team’s view. But don’t be pushy or expect anything.”
DO take notes
The first time you audition with a choreographer, you’ll learn his or her style, which will help you in the next round of auditions. For some tours and musicals, “they give the same combination for four years, like in Hairspray,” Cline says. “They might switch it up a bit to make sure you can pick it up quickly and are on the ball, but if you write the combination down, you can come back and be ahead of the game.”
Samuelson says this strategy was the key to her success at her return audition for PNB. “I was in the professional division but had not gotten a job as an apprentice,” she says. “However, I had taken class with Peter Boal, the artistic director, a lot. When I returned to audition again, I remembered the corrections he had given me—don’t look down and be more aggressive in class—and I applied them in the audition. I got the job!”
While you might’ve been nervous the first time around, now you’re better prepared. Show off your newfound confidence! “Go all out like you’re performing in a show,” Samuelson says. Persistence is key in the audition game, so work hard and you’ll rock the tryout—whether it’s your first or fifth try!
Much of Janelle Ginestra's career has been about helping others shine. She's dedicated herself to supporting and cheerleading her partner, WilldaBeast Adams; the emerging talents in their dance company, ImmaBEAST; and the countless dancers she inspires at master classes and conventions. Her YouTube channel has become a launching pad for young talents like "Fraternal Twins" Larsen Thompson and Taylor Hatala, thanks to viral videos featuring Ginestra's creative vision.
But Ginestra's a skyrocketing success in her own right—an in-demand choreographer, a social media influencer, and a dance entrepreneur, building a legacy one eight-count at a time. It's time for her turn in the spotlight. And she's more than ready. "I want to be a legend in whatever I do," she says. We'd argue that she already is.
For more on choosing whether to compete or not, click here.
I started dance classes at a young age. By the time I was 3, I was training at The Dance Club, and I grew up there. I started with the basics—ballet and jazz—and eventually added tap, tumbling, contemporary, and hip hop.
Early on, I did compete. I remember my first time: I did a trio at a small local competition, and it got first place. The trophy was as tall as I was, and I loved it. I attended conventions as a mini, and had the opportunity to take classes from Travis Wall, Sonya Tayeh, Andy Pellick, and Joey Dowling-Fakhrieh. There was so much variety—I was in awe.
For more on choosing whether to compete or not, click here.
My mom was a dancer growing up, and she went on to become a dance teacher, so I've really grown up in the studio. I started classes when I was 2, and by the time I was 9, I was training at The Dance Club and knew I wanted to dedicate all my time to dance.
Daphne Lee is a queen, and not just in the "OMG Girl Boss Alert" sense of the word. She's an actual queen—a beauty queen. Crowned Miss Black USA in August, she's been doing double duty as she continues to dance with the Memphis based dance company, Collage Dance Collective. Lee's new title has given her the means to encourage other black girls and boys to pursue their dreams, while also pursuing dreams of her own. The scholarship money awarded with the pageant title will assist her as she earns a Masters of Fine Arts degree at Hollins University.
When a choreographer finds a composer whose music truly inspires her, it can feel like a match made in dance heaven. Some choreographers work with the same composers so frequently that they become known for their partnerships. New York City Ballet soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck, for example, has tapped composer Sufjan Stevens numerous times (last spring, the two premiered The Decalogue at NYCB, to rave reviews); L.A. Dance Project's Benjamin Millepied's working relationship with composer Nico Muhly has spanned a decade and two continents; and when tap dancer Michelle Dorrance premiered the first-ever Works & Process Rotunda Project, a site-specific work for New York City's Guggenheim Museum, last year, percussionist Nicholas Van Young was by her side as an equal partner. Successful collaborations require compatibility between artists, direct and honest communication, and flexible, open minds. But when the stars align, working with a composer can be extremely rewarding.
For ballerinas, it's the dream role to end all dream roles: Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, the type of part dancers spend years preparing for and whole careers perfecting. And it's a role that New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck never thought she'd dance. Though Peck is one of the world's preeminent ballerinas, her short stature made Odette/Odile, typically performed by longer, leggier dancers, seem (almost literally) out of reach.
Then—surprise!—her name popped up on the cast list for NYCB's fall season run of Swan Lake.