It's All in the Details

If you’re a junior or senior, you’re already knee-deep in college prep—whether you’re creating a list of colleges or writing your application essays. On top of that, dancers often have a whole extra step to plan for: the dance department audition. To help you survive the process, DS asked Kate Walker, the dance department coordinator at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, to zero in on four things every dancer should remember while applying for college.

Montclair State University faculty at a dance department audition (Mike Peters, courtesy Montclair State University)

Look Ahead

Plan to attend a summer intensive at one of your prospective schools. It’s a great way to get to know the department and faculty—and to get a leg up on your audition competition!

Know Your Audience

Familiarize yourself with each school’s dance department. What do they specialize in? Finding out will help you prepare for whatever might be thrown at you during the audition. And when it comes to your solo, remember that even a winning competition piece might need a few tweaks before a college audition. Rather than showing something super-stylized, demonstrate that you have the solid foundation to tackle a variety of work. “Go for cleanliness over tricks,” Walker says. Ask a teacher to give you a few pointers before you perform for the audition panel.

Schedule Smartly

Start looking at the calendar now, since most college auditions take place between January and March. Seek out regional auditions to save travel time and money. If attending an audition will be difficult, find out early on if you can apply by video. Consider the pros and cons: “A video tends to flatten dynamics,” says Walker. “However, it also lets the dance department refer back to your work each time they review your application.”

Nail Your Paper Audition

If you’re applying to a large university, remember that multiple admissions counselors—who might not have dance knowledge—will read your Common Application before it ever reaches the dance department. However, an essay for a conservatory program is more likely to get an initial read by someone who knows a lot about dance. Tailor your writing accordingly. And hook your readers by linking your dancing to the way you learn in an academic setting. “Connecting artistic experience to academic achievement is always a plus on an application,” Walker says. “Dancers are inherently intelligent, creative thinkers, so flaunt it!”

Latest Posts


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti


Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search