The Audition Prep Timeline

It's only natural to be nervous before an audition, as you size up the competition and try to ignore that persistent ache in your left ankle. But there are ways to alleviate both mental and physical jitters. What are the keys to feeling as comfortable as possible? Start your preparations early, stick to a timeline and think about all aspects of your dancer body. We asked a dietitian, a psychologist, a physical therapist and a company director for their audition prep advice.


One to Two Months Before

Technically: Research the company you're auditioning for. “Find out if they'll be performing near you, and see any shows you can," recommends Olivier Wevers, director of contemporary ballet company Whim W'him. Once you learn about the type of work a company does, you can target your training. See a lot of hard-hitting movement? Consider adding a few hip-hop classes to your schedule. Are the dancers known for collaborating with the choreographer? Add an improv class to the mix.

Mentally: The big day may seem far off, but this is when you should start getting in the audition mindset. “Start approaching your regular classes like auditions," says Dr. Millie Figueredo, a psychologist with Miami City Ballet School. “Think about showing confidence and projecting your passion through your movement."

Nutritionally: “Focus on eating whole foods—a variety of lean proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats," says Alexis Appel, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, SC. “Limit your intake of highly processed foods, candies and sodas." Eating cleanly will help you perform at your peak, and it can also help prevent illness—because the last thing you need before an audition is a nasty cold or flu that can set you back weeks.

Physically: Get in the habit of sleeping at least eight hours each night, so you don't have a cumulative sleep deficit as you approach audition day. This is also the time to start a physical-therapy program, since muscles need about six to eight weeks to show lasting changes in strength and endurance. “Ask a physical therapist to help you address any areas that have been injured in the past," says Heather Southwick, Boston Ballet's director of physical therapy. Southwick also recommends working with a dance teacher to develop a personalized 30-minute warm-up to use before the audition. Build it around core stabilizing elements, dynamic stretching and any individualized exercises your body needs.

One to Two Weeks Before

Technically: “This is when you should focus on any unique quirks or technical details a company is known for," says Wevers. “For instance, at Whim W'him, we have a very precise way of moving our feet, so think about how you're using yours. Or, if the company's dancers have beautiful upper bodies, you'll want to refine your own arm movements so that motion is in your muscle memory."

Mentally: Build your confidence by writing out the reasons you're a good fit for the troupe or project you're auditioning for. “Make a list of your strengths and things you will bring to the company," Figueredo says.

Physically: At this point, consistency is key. “Don't do anything new or intense this close to an audition," Southwick warns. Use your customized warm-up routine before classes, and make tweaks if necessary. And if you're nursing an injury, Southwick says, “make informed choices on how to manage it. Does it need extra warm-up time? Or does it need a decreased load? Maybe you only do one jump combo, for instance, or only the first round of each combination."

Nutritionally: “Use this week to find out which foods give you the most energy without upsetting your stomach," Appel says. “Nuts or raw veggies can be a great snack, but if they cause gas and bloating, they probably aren't what you should have before the audition."

One Day Before

Technically: Take a nice, relaxed class. Don't be tempted to skip it. “You want to be rested, but think about how a first class back is on a Monday after a weekend or after taking a short vacation—you're not always together," Wevers says.

Mentally: “Don't put any extra pressure on yourself," Figueredo says. “Instead, think about all the preparation you've done. You're ready. Now relax. You want your mind to be clear and in a positive place."

Nutritionally: Don't make any sudden change to your eating habits. Stick to your plan. “You've created a schedule for your stomach, and you don't want to shock your system," Appel says. Make sure to drink plenty of water so you're well hydrated for the big day.

Physically: “Back off a little," Southwick says, so you're fresh for tomorrow. “Do your warm-up routine, take class, but don't try anything new."

One Hour Before

Technically: Remember that you're being evaluated on more than just your dancing. Be courteous to your fellow auditionees. “I observe the dancers from the moment they're in the building," says Wevers. “I can see how they deal with stress, and how they act under pressure."

Mentally: “Try a simple breathing exercise to center your mind," Figueredo says. “Close your eyes or focus on a fixed point. Inhale for five or six slow counts, hold it for a second, and then count backwards from five or six as you exhale." Focusing on your breathing will help clear last-minute worries from your head.

Nutritionally: “Eat a snack 30 minutes to an hour before go time," Appel says. A

mix of protein and fruit—Greek yogurt with berries, a banana with peanut butter—will give you good, steady energy. And while you'll want to keep a water bottle nearby, Appel suggests limiting your intake about 20 to 30 minutes before the audition. You don't want to have to use the restroom mid-class.

Physically: You'll need at least a half-hour for your prepared warm-up, so leave enough time for that after you've changed and eaten. “Try to carve out about six feet of room around you for your warm-up, because you'll need the space for your dynamic stretches—things like walking battements, side lunges, or walks with front attitude swings," Southwick says. Merde!

Latest Posts


Carlos Gonzalez (Ernesto Linnermann, courtesy Gonzalez)

4 Latinx Dancers Breaking Boundaries

It's National Hispanic Heritage Month, a period observed from September 15 to October 15 that recognizes the contributions of Latinx and Hispanic communities to American culture. The dance world has been lucky enough to be on the receiving end of those contributions, with Latinx dance artists leaving legacies that have helped move it to a more inclusive place.

At Dance Spirit, we're celebrating the month by highlighting four Latinx dancers whose groundbreaking work is opening doors for the next generation.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Goucher College students performing Women's Resistance (Jason Lee, courtesy Goucher College)

4 Colleges Committed to Diversifying Their Dance Curriculums

In the face of today's racial crisis, many Americans are now reckoning with their own complicity in the oppression of marginalized groups, and asking, "What can I do?" For college dance programs, which help mold the minds of the next generation of dance artists, this is an especially important question. For decades, most departments have centered on white, Western styles—ballet, modern, contemporary—rather than dedicating resources to the world's myriad other dance forms.

Fortunately, some college dance programs have pledged to diversify their course offerings, and to dismantle the layers of white supremacy that still pervade our art on a larger scale. And while many colleges are now beginning this work, a few have made
it a central part of their mission for years. Here are four schools with longstanding commitments to a more equitable dance education.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Class at Butler University (Michaela Semenza, courtesy Butler University)

The Truth About Grades as a Dance Major

You may know what it means to earn a silver, gold, or platinum award for your performance—but probably not an A, B, or C grade. Often, dancers don't encounter the idea of grading in dance until they enter collegiate dance programs. When you're evaluating an inherently subjective art form, what distinguishes an A student from a B student?

The answer: It's complicated. "There's a lot that goes into creating a well-rounded, successful student, which hopefully produces a well-rounded, successful professional," says Angelina Sansone, a ballet instructor at University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

In college programs, set movement phrases, repertory selections, or audition-style classes often serve as graded midterms or final exams. Written components such as self-assessments, audition research projects, and dance history tests might count as well. But the largest contributing factor to your grade is usually how you approach the work, day in and day out.

Dance Spirit talked to faculty across the country to discover what it takes to be a top student—and why dance grades matter.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search