It's crazy to think about what the dance world would be like without the high-quality digital video that's taken over the Internet. We wouldn't have inspiring class videos (like this one featuring Tate McRae), or mind-blowing music videos (like Parris Goebel's one-woman production), or live streams for all kinds of special events (hello, World Ballet Day).
Auditions are like vegetables: Are they the most delicious food? Probably not. Are they essential for your growth as a dancer? Definitely.
We love asking the pros for their advice, because we know the important role auditions play in every dancer's career. Whether we're breaking down the basics for first-time auditionees, giving you real talk on mistakes you don't know you're making or keeping it light with stories of pros' worst audition mistakes, we're always looking for tips to help you make it to the final round.
A Rockette audition (photo via New York Daily News)
With audition season almost upon us, who better to share advice than our favorite leggy ladies, the Radio City Rockettes? We love that they hold auditions every year and are always on the lookout for new performers. Here are some of their top tips for a solid audition experience:
- Review all of the audition requirements and guidelines...more than once. (You do NOT want to be that girl who brought black shoes when tan ones were required.)
- Use a folder or envelope to hold all your paperwork, like application forms, audition fees, headshots and resumes (and extra headshots and resumes).
- If you're asked a question or interviewed, listen carefully, take a breath and then speak. (It's not a great feeling to blurt out an answer, accidentally interrupt someone and then have literally no idea what you just said.)
Ballroom dance is everywhere these days. Whether you’re looking to land a spot on “So You Think You Can Dance” or hoping to find work on a commercial tour, having some ballroom training is increasingly necessary to stay competitive. Of course, the best way to prepare for an audition is to take lessons in the style. But what if your studio doesn’t offer any ballroom classes? Dance Spirit turned to the pros to learn a few key elements that can help you put your best heeled foot forward.
Allison Holker honed her ballroom skills at Utah's Center Stage Performing Arts Studio before competing with actor Jonathan Bennett on "Dancing with the Stars" Season 19 (photo by Adam Taylor, courtesy ABC)
“The first thing you’ll notice is that the rhythms in ballroom are intricate, and they may be different from what you’re used to,” says Center Stage Performing Arts Studio director Kim DelGrosso, who helped contemporary celeb Allison Holker prepare for “Dancing with the Stars” Season 19. Delgrosso advises paying special attention to the phrasing and musical foundation of the steps. In some styles, like the cha-cha, the step “breaks”—that is, shifts direction to the front, back or side—on the 2-count, instead of the 1. This can be tricky for dancers who are used to feeling rhythms in square, 8-count phrases.
The Lower Body
Ballet and contemporary dancers tend to have high centers of gravity, while most ballroom styles are earthy and low. Think of initiating movement from a place below your navel.
Hip action—a hallmark of Latin styles—originates from your feet. But maintaining a strong connection with the floor helps you move fluidly around the room in any style. “SYTYCD” All-Star and “DWTS” pro Chelsie Hightower notes that she can always spot ballroom
beginners because they pick up their feet too much, which creates clumsy, rigid movement.
“It has to be clear whether your weight is on your front foot, back foot, or split between them,” Hightower says. “In Latin dancing, for example, you’ll always lead with your toe, and your feet will always stay parallel in a very slight turnout.” And get comfortable dancing in heels, since they change your weight placement, making precise footwork more challenging.
The Upper Body
Whether you’re working in a standard dance frame with a partner or performing solo, a strong upper body is crucial. In a standard-style frame, Hightower suggests imagining your biceps being pulled out to the sides, while your head and spine reach up and down in opposition. “It’s like a T-shape,” she says.
When you’re on your own, make sure to mimic the choreographer’s arm movement precisely, and don’t forget about your hands. “Your hands are never relaxed,” Hightower says. “Think of holding a deck of cards between your middle finger and thumb with laser beam energy shooting out of your fingers.”
Valerie Rockey sambas with All-Star Ryan Di Lello on "SYTYCD" Season 11 (photo by Adam Rose, courtesy FOX)
In the Moment
In a style that rewards confidence, energy goes a long way. Louis Van Amstel, a “DWTS” pro who often choreographs for non-ballroom dancers on “SYTYCD,” says to “let your personality shine through,” regardless of your experience. (Remember how Ricky Ubeda and Valerie Rockey nailed their first-time waltz on “SYTYCD” Season 11? Their chemistry and charisma made both ballroom novices look like they’d been doing the style for years.)
While your instinct may be to apologize for being unfamiliar with the steps, stay positive and enthusiastic. “Don’t talk yourself down,” Del Grosso says. Shadow the best dancer in the room to pick up the minute details, especially those the choreographer may not be verbalizing.
Above all, don’t worry if you don’t get everything immediately. “It takes years to train in this style,” Hightower says. “But more than anything, get the flavor of what the judges are looking for. Nine times out of 10, it is about faking it till you make it. The more confidence you can have in your dancing, the better the audition will go.”
These could be your new BFFs!
Calling all comp kids! Are you dreaming of making your small-screen debut? If you think your leaps are as strong as Maddie Ziegler's, your shimmies are as fierce as Asia Monet Ray's and your pirouettes are as sharp as Chloe Lukasiak's, now may be your time to shine! Here's the catch: Your mom (or dad!) has to be on board as well.
Why? The infamous Abby Lee Miller is looking for new kids and their parents to add to the cast of "Dance Moms"—and possibly "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition."
Auditions for dancers 13 and under will be held in Orlando, FL (Oct. 25), Atlanta, GA (Nov. 8), and NYC (Nov. 23). Find out more and register at dancemomscasting.com.
See you on TV!
Welcome, to "So You Think You Can Dance!" This week, we're in L.A. for the third round of auditions—and I'm thrilled to report that these auditions were far more successful and entertaining than what we saw on last week's show.
On with the recap!
The Top 5 Moments From The L.A. Auditions:
1. Jesse Tyler Ferguson on the judging panel. I love him on "Modern Family" and I don't even care that he may not be a dance expert. He's so stinkin' lovable as a self-proclaimed "super fan of the show," and you could tell he genuinely enjoyed sitting up there with Nigel and Mary. Adorable and hilarious.
2. Alexa Anderson! Our former Cover Model Search winner was the first one up last night, and she got sent straight to Vegas. No surprise there: We knew she was a star when we spotted her on the competition scene, you knew she was a star when you voted her the winner of the 2010 CMS battle, and now the rest of the world will know she's a star when Alexa inevitably makes it into the Top 20. (Seriously, Nigel and Mary: Put this girl in the Top 20.) We're rooting for you, Alexa!
3. "No lip syncing." Mary Murphy, I love you for this. High five. She told the crop of L.A. dancers that she did not want to see any lip syncing. Write this down, dancers and teachers. No one likes lip syncing! I don't care if you're doing a musical theater number to "Cell Block Tango" and you swear mouthing the words will make your performance more believable. Let the singers do the singing, you just worry about your sassy moves!
4. All the super-cute contemporary girls. I loved Sam Lenarz, whose mom kicked her out of the house and didn't support her dancing. Her story was heartbreaking, but with her killer feet and ability to light up the stage, I doubt she'll be held back in life. Then there was Megan Branch, who danced with a youthful innocence that I found incredibly compelling. Nigel called her a "little firecracker." And then there was Emily James! Emily was a DS Cover Model Search finalist and she was sent straight to Vegas. Duh.
5. Jonathan Anzalone. I basically like that he looks like Joey Lawrence, and I had a crush on Joey Lawrence when I was in elementary school and he was on that TV show "Blossom." Jonathan was quirky, fun to watch and could shake his booty better than any dude I've ever met.
The “So You Think You Can What?!” Moment of the Night:
How much did I love the "A-list celebrity on a B-list budget" twins, Nick and James Aragon? I loved them so much. They refer to themselves as the "ninja twins," one is a stylist, one works at "The Village Idiot," and their double cartwheels were to die for. Are they going to win "SYTYCD?" Um, no. Not at all. But they were adorable and I want them to take me shopping.
Check back next week when we'll be recapping Atlanta auditions. And of course, tell us what you thought of the show!
Get ready for Cat Deeley’s fierce fashion, Lil' C’s fictional vocabulary, Mary Murphy’s high-pitched holler and, of course, some insanely talented dancers! That’s right, "So You Think You Can Dance" is back for a new season tonight. And Season 9—with a brand new one-night-only format—will certainly be an exciting one. DS chatted with our favorite judge and yours, Nigel Lythgoe, about what we can expect.
Dance Spirit: How do you feel about this season being aired one night per week instead of two?
Nigel Lythgoe: Putting the results in the same show as the performances means we’ve got to be very strong in our thoughts. We’ll have to take into account the routine from the week before, what America thinks and then the routine this week, which America can’t vote on. The judges will be more important than ever this year.
DS: And what about crowning two winners?
NL: It’s a major change, but it’s something we should have done years ago to be honest with you.
DS: What’s your favorite part of the season each year—the auditions, the top 20, the tour?
NL: Well if you ask me towards the end of the series, I would say the end of the series, because we just get so tired at that point. But at the beginning, I love the audition process. I’m inspired by it to be frank with you. Not all the kids that I think are fantastic get through, but seeing so many dancers put their hearts on their sleeves and have the guts to audition makes me very proud.
DS: What’s your least favorite part?
NL: You’re not going to believe me, but rejecting people. This is a professional competition, so we’re looking for the very best. Sometimes when we tell people they’re not good enough, you can see that their hearts are broken. Even with the bad ones, I want to say, “Keep dancing!”
DS: How was the turnout at auditions this year?
NL: Very strong. The turnout was equal to other seasons, but the standard of dance goes up each year. People get used to what we’re looking for, so they train themselves. The contemporary kids are doing a lot more hip hop. And, by the looks of it, the hip hop kids are even taking a few ballroom lessons.
DS: There have been rumors that "SYTYCD" is on its way out, but what do you see for the future of the show? Will this new format stick around for a while?
NL: Well I’m certainly hoping so. I would like to think that FOX will continue to think of us as part of its schedule, but that depends on viewers. At the end of the day, it’s a business. If we lose viewers, they’re going to drop the program. It isn’t up to me or to the format, it’s all about whether people watch. Just as a dancer accepts rejection if they’re not what a choreographer is looking for, this is something that I accept as a part of this business.
If it were up to us, "SYTYCD" would be here to stay. We can’t wait to find out who will be crowned America’s favorite dancers, and put them on the cover of our October issue! For the first episode of the season, tune in tonight at 8/7c on FOX.
For the past two days, DS managing editor Rachel Zar and I have been behind the scenes at the NYC auditions for Season 9 of "So You Think You Can Dance." If you thought the competition was tough last year, you'll be floored by the talent of the upcoming season. From contemporary to ballroom to hip hop—these dancers can do it all.
But being well-rounded doesn't mean a ticket to Vegas—especially with the judges (Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Tyce Diorio) cracking down on mediocre performances. Here's Rachel's quick recap of the judges' feedback to contestants:
1. Be a sponge. When the judges give you feedback, soak it all up, work on those things throughout the year and audition next season.
2. Use your face! If you don't connect with the judges, you're not going straight to Vegas.
3. If you're young and don't have a lot of emotional baggage, take an acting class so you can learn to convey emotion onstage.
4. A series of steps, poses and tricks is not dancing.
5. After you've auditioned, don't ask for one more chance to prove yourself. The audition is your chance—use it to show off every style that you have under your belt.
6. Don't audition with another dancer unless you've actually prepared something together. Just dancing side by side and competing for the judges' attention will only confuse them and get you sent home.
Now that you've taken those lessons to heart, take a behind-the-scenes look at the NYC auditions:
Hey, “SYTYCD” fans: Want to win a trip to see the finale episode LIVE in L.A.? Of course you do! Click here to enter our “SYT” finale sweepstakes.
Last night, the "So You Think You Can Dance" audition tour hit up our favorite city of all: NYC! We were expecting big things, and of course, the dancers delivered. The episode's focus was on street dancers with a whole lot of heart and determination—not to mention unreal personal style. Tbh, my Top 5 are largely in favor of #TeamStreet.
Gadson in After Midnight (photo by Caitlin McNaney, via Broadway.com)
1. Virgil Gadson's footwork is worthy of James Brown himself and his mega-watt smile reminds me of one of America's other favorite dancers: Fik-Shun. Not only did he have the swagger and street cred to make it to Vegas, he also has the technique. He was a cast member in After Midnight, which we all know DOESN'T slouch when it comes to choreography. A hip-hopper with Broadway cred? Be still my heart. I'm calling him as an early contender for the "SYTYCD" crown.
2. Korey Cleveland showed us what it means to fight for something. After struggling with addiction, a rough home life and incarceration, he found dance. His krumping was raw and intense—exactly what it should be to portray powerful emotion. We'll see how he does with other street styles, but Jason Derulo was right when he said that the show needs someone like Korey.
3. Did you guys catch that montage of amazing #TeamStage dudes? There were three of them and they were all serving technique, charisma and legs for days (I spy a ballet boy!). Though we didn't get to meet them personally, the judges showered all three with praise and I don't doubt we'll see at least one of them in the Top 10!
Hurrikane (photo via Exile Professional Gym)
4. Alain "Hurrikane" Lauture is a locker from Haiti. But what the show didn't mention is that he's an insane waacker, too! Now, I'm no waacking expert (just an obsessed fan), but I haven't seen someone groove like that since Princess Lockeroo blew our minds during her Season 8 audition. I loved everything about Hurrikane, from his grandpa socks to his gorgeous smile. I'm calling him as a contender, too.
5. Oh hey, that looks familiar!
That's our girl Alexia Meyer in her signature power move, the Super Cabriole! As soon as I saw her I knew she'd whip it out at some point during her audition. And sure enough, shenailed it. Jason Derulo's face in this clip is everything. Of course, she's through to Vegas!
At the end of the episode, we were left with 114 #Stage dancers and 105 #Street dancers going through to Vegas. Check back here next week for our Vegas recap—it’s sure to be a moment of truth, as the dancers all face choreography for the first time!