Telling Tip-Offs

Auditions can be like intense riddles. You know you’ve done your best and feel happy with your performance, but sometimes you get cut nonetheless. As you leave, you may wonder, “Am I missing something?”

 

The answer is a resounding “yes”! Unfortunately, the subtleties of the choreographer’s throw-away comments or the significance of the way she repeats a specific arm movement can mean the difference between getting a call-back or an afternoon latte. By paying careful attention to the focus of the artistic team, you can sniff out what is important to them. A little diligent detective work can solve the mystery of auditioning.

 


Make Your Mark (Gently!)

“You want to present yourself to the team in a friendly, but non-aggressive way,” says David Marquez, dancer, choreographer and master teacher in NYC. “Try to be first to walk into the room and go straight to the center with a smile…without being pushy.”

 

Be sensitive to how you wear your confidence; what you feel on the inside may not be what you project to the team. And since the team’s perception is key, make sure to “maintain a warm energy,” says Steven Sofia, NYC dancer and master teacher. “You want to have personality, but too much mugging can be overwhelming. However, a neutral face can come off as bored. People want to hire dancers who want to be in the room and work.”

 

Marquez suggests creating a visual imprint of yourself for the choreographer or instructor: Each time you change lines, try to stay in view. Then, when you return to the front, go directly to the spot you were in before. That way, if the choreographer looks for “the girl in the blue,” you’ll be right where he or she expects you to be.

 


Listen

Now that you’ve given the team some subliminal clues, perk up your ears—their hints are everywhere. “If you only have a small amount of time to learn the routine, try your best,” says Marquez. “And if nothing else, make sure to do what the choreographer has asked for.” If they’ve taken time to verbalize a specific movement, you can be sure it’s something to highlight. They might go through the combination counting off all of the steps, but listen carefully: You’ll find that certain phrases are described more vividly. Home in on these!

 

If you or another dancer in the room is given a note, this correction gets priority. Warnings like, “I’ve given this note three times before” should scream like blaring sirens. “Choreographers want to see who is listening and digesting their work and style,” says Sofia. “They want to hire someone who hears what they’re saying and is willing, ready and able to live in their world.”

 

Also, pay attention to every instruction, even if it seems insignificant. Has the team explained the formation they want for smaller groups? Have they told you exactly how they want your audition card stapled to your resumé? Have they asked you to stay on the floor in formation after you’ve finished the combination? While not necessarily a death knell, slip-ups concerning these tiny details are easy ways for choreographers to rule people out when there are tons of dancers to see, or when considering two equally talented choices. Getting cut based on “she’s a fantastic dancer but she didn’t follow directions when we told her where to stand” is a sad, and all-too-common, occurrence.

 


Watch

If the choreographer has an assistant who is demonstrating, she is the perfect guide to the choreographer’s style and desires—she got hired, so she must be doing it right! “Often if an assistant is present, the choreographer is marking. So, following the choreographer exactly will lead you to distribute your energy incorrectly,” says Michael Scott, cast member of the Broadway productions of Tarzan, Mamma Mia!, The Pirate Queen and All Shook Up. “Instead, listen to the choreographer, but watch the choreographer and the assistant.”

 

As you watch them, look for phrases that the choreographer seems to be hitting harder or more precisely than other sections. “Every choreographer has signature movements,” notes Scott. “Put special emphasis on what you see him or her enjoying most. But, if you can’t find any information on preferences, pick your own and make sure that in every repetition, you hit those counts!”

 

You should also note which dancers get kept. This is not only informative, but also a confidence booster. “If you watch who gets kept at Susan Stroman auditions, you see that she likes very long legs,” says Sofia. Being aware of this sort of consistent typing will help you remain self-assured about your skills while accepting physical constraints.

 

Once you’ve collected similar clues about choreographers, whether from observation or by talking with fellow dancers, use this information to your advantage. Do you have a pair of shoes that make your legs look extra fierce? Wear them. Were all the girls that got cut falling out of their turns? Use the waiting time in the holding room to practice your balance.

 


Add You, But Keep Them

One last common—and understandable— pitfall: Try not to overreact when you’re asked to “show me you.” Although the choreographer might be encouraging you to improvise, add your own touches and show off your unique personality, many dancers make the mistake of disregarding all of the previous information given. “When a choreographer says ‘give me you,’ he didn’t also say ‘take away me,’” says Marquez. “Instead, he’s asking you to add your personality to the choreography that has already been agreed upon in the rest of the audition.”

 

Scott suggests that when choreographers make comments like these, they’re in fact asking for your energy and momentum. And unless a specific call for “add your own arms here” or “improvise for eight counts” is issued, stick to the movement they give you and simply ramp up your commitment and emotion.

 

While auditioning might initially seem like a blindfolded extravaganza, looking for these simple signs can help you tune in to the entire process. Even if you’re cut, you’ll be sure to have uncovered the intricacies that might stand in your way at the next audition. So sleuth on!

Amanda LaCount showing off her skills (screenshot via YouTube)

There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.

Keep reading... Show less

Leap! National Dance Competition offers dancers of all skill levels an opportunity to showcase their talents in an event where the focus is on fun and competing is just a bonus!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
The School at Jacob's Pillow's contemporary program auditions (photo by Karli Cadel, courtesy Jacob's Pillow)

Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.

Keep reading... Show less
Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB

Mark your calendars, bunheads! On Monday, January 29th, at 2:45 PM (EST)/11:45 AM (PST), Pacific Northwest Ballet will be streaming a live rehearsal of Act II of Kent Stowell's Swan Lake.

Keep reading... Show less
Watch This
Tavaris Jones dancing with the Cleveland Cavaliers' Scream Team hip-hop crew

We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)

So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Joe Toreno

The coolest place she's ever performed:

I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!


Something she's constantly working on:

My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'


Signature look:

My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.


Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!

Serafina

Keep reading... Show less
Trending-posts
Screenshot via YouTube

*suddenly feels the overpowering urge to purchase a million bottles of Pocari Sweat*

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Mandy Moore (photo by Lee Cherry, courtesy Bloc Agency)

In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.

Read more at dancemagzine.com!

Sponsored

Want to Be on Our Cover?

covermodelsearch-image

Video

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored