Q: What's the Most Outrageous Thing You've Ever Been Asked To Do At An Audition?
These pros have done it all—and survived! Read on for their best audition stories.
I went to an audition and didn’t really know what it was for. I got there and we did some creative movement and then the casting directors said, “Now be a gorilla.” It was unbelievable. People were walking across the floor screaming and climbing on top of each other. I was ready to walk out, but then I thought, “No, this is good experience.” Six months later I found out it was a casting call for Tarzan! —Jacki Ford, former Rockette; choreographer and guest teacher at NYC’s Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway
Lesson learned: When something like this happens, everyone at the audition is as hesitant as you are, so just go for it. Dive in, in spite of your discomfort. If nothing else, you’ll get a great story out of it!
When I was 19, I was auditioning for a Nickelodeon show and I had to sing, dance and act. The director asked me to improvise in a 10-year-old’s voice and tell him what ingredients I would use to make the best ice cream dessert and why. That challenge threw me off big time! But I went for it—and I booked the job. —Chase Benz, dance captain on Britney Spears’ Circus tour
Lesson learned: Be ready for anything. Experiences like this will push you out of your comfort zone, and when you do that you learn more about yourself and who you are.
When I first moved to NYC, I was called for a Mary Poppins audition. I was under the impression that I was auditioning for a ballet soloist role, so after I made it through the ballet combo and the vocal part, I thought the whole thing was over—then they asked me to put on my tap shoes. I am probably the worst tapper on the planet. I could not for the life of me pick up the tap combo, so I ended up doing time steps over and over until the music stopped. I was completely humiliated and felt like I never wanted to audition for anything ever again. Needless to say, I didn’t book the job. —Jakob Karr, “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 6
Lesson learned: Preparedness and versatility are key in landing those awesome Broadway roles!
Usually at a commercial audition, you go in expecting to learn and perform a combination. But at one audition, I was brought into a room with a few other people and asked to walk. We all walked across the room once, then the choreographer thanked us and that was it. Turns out, they were looking for dancers who could “act like real people.” —Sandra Colton, commercial dancer and author of Book Me!
Lesson learned: In order to get booked for jobs, you have to be able to do exactly what the choreographer asks of you, however simple or complicated.
When I arrived at the audition for Michael Jackson’s This Is It tour, I was really nervous. And to make matters worse, before we began the choreography, we were asked to take off our shirts. I’m quite small, especially compared to some of the other guys who auditioned. So I became self-conscious. But when the music hit, I was in my element and did my thing. Although the tour didn’t happen, I did book the job! —Kriyss Grant, assistant choreographer for Beyoncé’s I Am…Sasha Fierce tour
Lesson learned: Always keep your body in shape so you’ll feel confident in all situations, and be prepared for anything to happen in an audition.
Harper Watters is a ballet dancer for today's generation. A social media maestro and a charismatic performer, the Houston Ballet soloist is equally at home in front of the camera hosting his hit YouTube series, "The Pre Show"; interacting with fans on his crazy-popular Instagram account; or showing off his beautiful classical technique onstage. It's a multifaceted identity that's proven to be invaluable to his career—and it's taking him to places he never even dreamed of.
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!
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.
When we think of a dancer who's broken barriers, American Ballet Theatre principal Misty Copeland tends to be the name that comes to mind. And though Copeland has been a crucial advocate for equality in the world of ballet, Raven Wilkinson—a mentor of Copeland's—is considered one of the original pioneers of the movement.
In 1955, Wilkinson became the first African American to dance with the renowned Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Her fortitude in the face of bigotry and hate cemented her legacy. Now, with the release of the new children's book Trailblazer: The Story of Ballerina Raven Wilkinson, a new generation of dancers will be inspired by her tale of overcoming obstacles to achieve a dream.
The book details Wilkinson's life, from her experience as a young dancer training in Harlem, to her run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan while on tour with Ballet Russe, to her later ballet career in Europe. "There were times where my heart really hurt because of the situations I had to deal with," she says. "But I always had faith that I was made to be a dancer and that I was gonna dance."
Dance Spirit spoke with Wilkinson to discuss the new book and get her take on racial equality within the ballet world.
Postmodern pioneer Trisha Brown redefined how dance is seen and felt. A founding member of Judson Dance Theater, Brown frequently collaborated with other experimental artists like Yvonne Rainer, Merce Cunningham, Twyla Tharp, and Steve Paxton.
She embraced pedestrian movement, pairing everyday gesture with rhythm and fluidity. "It's liquid," says Wendy Perron, who danced with Brown in the '60s and '70s. "Like a river with many tributaries, water coming out of a faucet, or being on a raft and seeing the water move away in different directions." Brown also pushed beyond stages with choreography in fields, museums—even on the sides of buildings.
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.
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.