I Hope I Get It! Sheryl Murakami's Audition Advice

Sheryl Murakami is a bona fide superstar in the commercial dance world. She’s performed at the MTV Video Music Awards, VH1’s Fashion Rocks, the Latin Grammys and on “Saturday Night Live,” in addition to countless appearances in commercials and industrials. She’s worked with Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Avril Lavigne, Nelly Furtado and P. Diddy, to name a few. So it’s safe to say Murakami—now a regular teacher at NYC’s Broadway Dance Center, where her popular classes are always packed—knows her stuff when it comes to auditioning. Read on for her advice.

Take care of your body. Let’s be honest: This is the entertainment industry. How you look matters. Own it.

Go in without any expectations. No matter how well you think you do at the audition, someone else is always making the final decision, and you never know which way that person is going to go.

Compete hard! Friendly competition is a good thing—you gotta fight for your right to dance.

Be prepared for anything. Study and train in all forms of dance, from ballet to hip hop. Being able to freestyle is a huge plus.

Dress the part. Know who and what you are auditioning for. There will be so many people going out for the same job you are. The more you look the part and play the role, the easier it is for the casting directors to envision you in it.

During the audition, really listen to and watch the choreographer or director. Follow every direction you are given and pay close attention to the details of what they want. You are being hired to fulfill a specific vision. Not your vision—theirs.

Find out who is choreographing the audition, and then do your research. Go online and learn his or her style by watching as many videos as you can find.

Stand out in the crowd. Bold colors are a plus, and a big personality is a must. Develop your own personal style so people will remember you.

Remember to breathe. If you don’t breathe, you’ll lose your focus and forget everything you have worked so hard for. And you may pass out, too! That would be embarrassing.

Have fun! Auditions are stressful enough, so make it a positive experience and learn something from it.

What Not to Do

Don’t hide in the back of the room the whole time. You’ll get lost in the sauce and never be seen.

Don’t be rude. When you’re told to switch lines, don’t stay in the front. That causes unnecessary “showgirl drama,” and it’s bad dance etiquette.

Don’t change the choreography to show off. Choreographers hate that. Save your individual skills for when you’re asked to freestyle.

Don’t show up with just one pair of shoes. Ladies, always bring a pair of pumps, even if you’re auditioning for a Nike commercial.

Don’t wear Uggs. Uggs are ugly.

Don’t show up looking like you rolled out of bed. Treat the audition like a show. Full face, full hair and full wardrobe. Bigger is always better.

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 by Jamayla Burse

Catching Up With Christian Burse, Comp Kid Turned Complexions Rising Star

With her nearly limitless facility, well-timed dynamics and incredible control, Christian Burse's future as a dancer was guaranteed to be bright. A student at the renowned Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, TX, and at Dance Industry Performing Arts Center in Plano, TX, Burse has consistently made waves: She won first runner-up for Teen Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals in 2019, received a grant for summer study at Juilliard from the Texas Young Masters program in 2020, and was named a YoungArts finalist for dance in 2021.

So, it wasn't all that surprising when Burse announced that, at just 17 years old, she would be joining Complexions Contemporary Ballet as an apprentice for the company's 2021–22 season.

Dance Spirit caught up with Burse to hear all about her first season with Complexions ahead of the contemporary ballet company's run at the Joyce Theater in NYC this month.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search