4 Summer Intensive Directors on How to Stand Out at Auditions
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.
Artistic director of Nederlands Dans Theater
"People who send in video auditions for our summer intensive shouldn't be trying to make themselves look like anyone else. It's important to not embellish yourself too much in terms of technique. Authenticity in all aspects is super-important. Don't hide the things that you think aren't strong enough. Don't avoid anything—show your weaknesses and be transparent. It's important for us to see how we can work on them. Don't try to camouflage flaws with clothing, such as wearing baggy pants when you know your knees might not stretch enough. Very often it's what people don't say or don't show about their bodies that's their biggest insecurity, and we'll see it. And this is potentially the thing that makes you interesting. It's our imperfections that create our character."
"Lifting existing pieces off the internet to learn for video auditions. It shows no initiative or creativity."
Director, Lou Conte Dance Studio at Hubbard Street Dance
Batille teaching during Hubbard Street's summer intensive (photo by Todd Rosenberg, courtesy Hubbard Street Dance)
"I'm looking for a willingness to be spontaneous, as well as checking out how you relate to other people. For repertory, I'm looking for dancers who can pick up on the subtleties of the phrasing and who can easily move in and out of the floor. I remember dancers who have very open faces—they allow me to make eye contact with them, and they nod their head to show that they're listening."
"Bringing your coffee into the audition room"
Artistic director for the Joffrey Ballet School's children's dance and youth ballet programs and summer intensives in NYC and Miami
"I always tell students to wear something traditional, but to add a bit of flair, like a polka-dot hair bow, that will help you stand out in my mind. The next year, wear that same polka-dot hair bow again and come up to say hello to me at the beginning of the audition—that personal connection might place you in a scholarship position over another student. For audition behavior, being polite is at the top of the list. Thank your teachers and pianists after class. Ask intelligent, appropriate questions by raising your hand. Don't leave the room for any reason, and never check your cell phone or take a picture or video of class. Finally, save your comments for the car ride home. I've been in the bathroom in between auditions and heard someone trashing me or another dancer in the audition, so I made sure I saw their faces and lowered their audition scores."
"Walking out of an audition. Don't do it—ever!"
Co-chairman of faculty, School of American Ballet
Mazzo directs students in an SAB audition (photo by Sharen Bradford/The Dancing Image, courtesy School of American Ballet)
"You have to be all eyes and ears when you're taking an audition class. It's not just about having pointed feet or doing seven pirouettes—I'm looking for somebody who listens and moves to the music. If I give a student a correction, the other students should be listening and not make that mistake again, too. When you're waiting for your turn, rather than yawning in the back, watch the dancers in the front to listen and learn. I look for people who are eager to be there."
"Wearing too much makeup at a young age"
Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow
The School at Jacob's Pillow's musical theater dance auditions (photo by Hayim Heron, courtesy Jacob's Pillow)
"I'm watching for students who are leaders, not followers. Leaders are open to being anywhere in the room and executing exactly what has been asked. They are fully invested in performing the movement, rather than glancing at the adjudicators or teachers for approval. And they are aware of the spatial needs of others while waiting on the sides for their turn. Followers are always hanging in the back or hugging the sides so they have someone to watch. They rely on what they already know and can do well, rather than using the audition to show what they can learn. I want leaders who are willing to learn and aren't afraid of encountering new movement styles."
"Wearing a flowy shirt and pants when we asked for clothes that really show your body"
A version of this story appeared in the January 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "What Summer Intensive Directors Are Really Thinking at Auditions."
Last May, we told you about a special exhibition of the Mark Ryden artwork that sparked Alexei Ratmansky's sweet-treat of a ballet, Whipped Cream. Well, hold on to your tiaras, bunheads, because there's a brand-new exhibit featuring actual costumes from this megahit production. The Nutcracker's Land of Sweets has some serious competition!
Kyle Van Newkirk is a tap dancer you probably remember from the premiere season of NBC's World of Dance. In case you missed it, he is also one of Showstopper's incredible convention teachers. What makes Kyle stand apart from some of today's other incredible tappers? He isn't afraid to change what tap means to his audience and even himself. This modern view of tap dancing is important because it shows us that tap dancers are just as versatile and dynamic as dancers of any other genre. We sat down with Kyle to get his advice on bringing tap dancing into the 21st century.
Turnout—a combination of rotational flexibility and the strength to properly hold that rotation—is the foundation of ballet. But it's also a source of frustration for many dancers. After all, not everyone (actually, hardly anyone) is born with 180-degree rotation. “When I first started dancing, my hip flexors were strong, but I was forcing my turnout without using the right muscles," remembers Amanda Cobb, a former dancer with The Washington Ballet.
The good news is that it's possible to both improve your turnout and to dance beautifully with less-than-perfect rotation. But there's a lot of misinformation out there about how turnout works and why it's important. To help separate fact from fiction, DS asked the experts to disprove six turnout myths.
They say there's no "I" in "team"—and nowhere is that truer than the world of college dance teams, where precision reigns, uniformity is key, and a single misstep from any given "I" can cost a group a championship trophy. So it's unsurprising that securing a spot on one of the best dance teams in the country is no easy feat.
Members of these highly athletic teams rehearse for hours every week—on top of academic classes and commitments—and perform at football and basketball games, annual concerts, and nationally televised competitions (hi, ESPN). And "no I" rule notwithstanding, each of these top teams is made up of highly trained, highly technical, highly hard-core individuals, who come together to create a ready-for-victory pack.
These six teams aren't one-off success stories—they're consistently strong, and earn the top spots at major competitions like UDA and NDA nearly every year. Up for the challenge? Here's what to know before you go to auditions.
Picture this: You've scored tickets to Ellen DeGeneres' hit show, "Ellen." The day has come, the show is as hysterical as ever, Ellen is debating the biggest hot-button issue since the blue/black or white/gold dress, "Laurel vs. Yanny" (side note: it's LAUREL, people), and tWitch is killing it over at the DJ booth, as always. Ellen decides it's the perfect time to single out an audience member and, lo and behold, that person is "SYTYCD" champ ( and December 2017 cover star!) Lex Ishimoto.
The Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center is the 54,000 square foot home of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, one of the largest facilities dedicated to dance on a private university campus. Designed for their innovative new curriculum, that supports a range of dance styles, the school's staff designated Harlequin to provide wall-to-wall flooring for the large 3,500 square foot Performance Studio as well as five dance studios in their new state-of-the-art building.
If diamonds are a girl's best friend, it's safe to say that faux-diamond earrings are a dancer's best friend. A fixture onstage at just about every competition weekend, these blinged-out baubles are also the surest sign that recital season is upon us again. And what better way to get into the sparkly spirit than by drooling over these 5 diamonds in the rough? (Sorry not sorry!)
DancerPalooza, America's Largest Dance Festival, is moving to sunny SAN DIEGO, California from July 24-29, 2018.
Check out all of the NEW Intensives DancerPalooza has to offer this year!
You could say that a perk of dancing with Los Angeles Ballet is its proximity to Hollywood. It's no wonder, then, that when actor and comedian Kevin Hart was looking for someone to teach ballet lessons for his new "What the Fit" YouTube show, he reached out to the nearby company. The series follows Hart and his celebrity friends as they try different forms of exercise (such as sumo wrestling and goat yoga), with hilarious results. For his ballet episode, Hart brings along Hangover star Ken Jeong—and the dancers do their best to keep these madcap comedians under control.