It’s audition time! We know that many of you dream of attending Juilliard, so we asked Lawrence Rhodes, director of the school’s Dance Division, to give DS the inside scoop on everything from proper behavior in front of the judges to how to prepare for the audition.
DS: How can a dancer prepare for the audition?
LR: Practice, practice, practice. You have to come to the audition with the only expectation being that you’re going to do your best—and then whatever happens, happens. It’s true that it’s a competition. It’s also true that dancers are getting better and better. But the only thing you can really stay in control of is your own work and your readiness.
DS: What are you looking for?
LR: Our goals are pretty lofty. Because the program at Juilliard is very intense, we’re looking for people who are dancers already, who we can encourage to be dance artists: dancers who have a fair amount of technique, who move well and love to move. We want students who can focus on what they’re doing and are engaged in their own personal physicality and activity, who can understand the material being given easily, transmit it into their bodies and do it well right away. Musicality and self-possession are also key—that has to do with people being calm and focused enough to be able to hear the music. We’re not big on body type. We’re an equal opportunity kind of school—during the audition process, our minds are really quite open and willing to take everything in.
DS: What happens at the audition?
LR: One of the nice things about how we do auditions is that we allow everyone to do two full classes: a ballet class, followed by a modern class. At the end of that time (21⁄2 hours), we make our first eliminations, so people get a chance to be seen by 10 to 12 faculty members. Then we look at solos, followed by another cut. Then we do a coaching class and an interview. So it’s a fairly long and thorough process. We get a chance to really know who they are. And we keep video records so we can go back and check. Last year we looked at 470 and took 24. We take 12 men and 12 women—which makes it harder for women, but it works out well for partnering classes.
DS: What stands out to you?
LR: The dancer things: a sense of weight and a sense of presence, and an easy coordination. If it links together with music, you’re in.
DS: What is appropriate behavior during an audition?
LR: Be quiet and attentive. An auditioning dancer’s job is to take in—with as much clarity as possible—all the information being given, which might be verbal or physical. And until the interview, there is no need for feedback from them. In the interview we like to get to know who they are—where they come from and what their interests are—but until then it’s a dance class with the teacher in charge.
Photo: Nan Melville