How to Get Psyched for Auditions

By the time you walk into an audition, you should be warmed up, focused and ready to show casting directors that you’re right for the job. You shouldn’t be worrying about whether or not you brought your resumé or if that snag in your tights will blossom into a hole after the first chorus line kick. To help you concentrate on the task at hand, these musical theater pros share the tricks of the trade that have helped them land great gigs.

Pack up the night before. Because she’s “not a morning person,� Santhe Tsetsilas, an eight-year New York City Ballet soloist turned musical theater performer, takes care of details the day before. She checks that her headshot and resumé are stapled together, picks out her audition outfits and packs her dance bag.

Sleep soothes. When it comes to being ready and at her best, Hairspray dancer Michelle Kittrell makes it a rule to get a good night’s rest: “I personally like to have at least eight hours of sleep no matter what, but I definitely enforce that if I have an audition,� she says.

Eat smart. For Adam Pelty, who has danced in such shows as Cyrano—the Musical and The Scarlet Pimpernel, the most important part of prepping is eating, which not only fuels his body, but also helps him maintain concentration. “Your mind works a lot harder than your body in a dance audition—you have to be able to focus and learn the combination quickly,� he explains. He eats yogurt or cottage cheese in the morning, then has a protein shake and a chicken salad sandwich about an hour before the audition. He packs his dance bag with Power Bars, an apple, a banana and extra water to make sure he’s stocked in case an audition runs long. It’s also vital not to skip breakfast: Whether an audition is in the morning or afternoon, Tsetsilas jump-starts her system with a morning meal that typically includes yogurt, fruit and granola.

Hit the gym. Trying to warm up during an audition distracts from learning choreography quickly and performing it well. Furthermore, it may take longer than usual for you to feel warm and ready to dance full out, says Pelty. “Your body gets more tense [in auditions], and you’re not as fluid as you might be under normal circumstances,� he says. For this reason, Pelty heads to the gym two hours prior to an audition for 45 minutes of cycling or running.

Ballet barre’s a must. Like Pelty, Tsetsilas prefers to warm up before arrival. Using a portable barre in her apartment, she gives herself a 20- to 30-minute ballet barre that includes plenty of pliés and tendus.

Hop in the tub. To ensure her muscles are warm—especially during winter—Tsetsilas treats herself to a 15-minute bath or soak in a Jacuzzi about 90 minutes before every audition.

Water does wonders. As a dancer, you know the importance of drinking plenty of water. When it comes to musical theater auditions, at which dancers are usually required to sing, H2O is also important for keeping vocal cords hydrated, says Kittrell, who always carries a large bottle of water in her bag.

Appease anxieties. Some dancers prefer to arrive at auditions with time to spare. Kittrell, for instance, follows a morning regimen that ensures she arrives at least 30 minutes early, so there is time to stretch and sign in. Tsetsilas, on the other hand, is happy arriving only 10 to 15 minutes ahead of time: “I thrive on running around and getting there in the nick of time,� she explains. “It’s best for my nerves.�

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