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The Do's and Don'ts for Your Dance Audition

When getting ready for an audition, there are certain tricks and strategies that every young dancer should take into account – both in advance and while on site.

In preparation for POP-UP DANCE - Man In Motion's theater dance workshop class that will feature a live mock audition for young training dancers, we figured we'd offer some great tips on what to do, and even what not to do during any audition. Check out what three experienced dance professionals have to say about having a successful audition.

Follow These DO’s for Better Results

- DO be on time and prepare yourself with proper sleep and nourishment. These simple steps are the foundation of a good audition, says George Warren, artistic director of Center Stage Dance & Theatre School in New Jersey.

- DO take the time to research what you are auditioning for, according to Adam Cates, associate choreographer of the Tony-winning Broadway musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder. Read the audition notice carefully, so that you know as much as possible about the dance styles and skill set required for the job. This will help you know what to wear, what shoes to bring, and what kind of song you might need handy, if you’re kept to sing. Knowing what a certain choreographer likes or doesn't like can only assist you in being better prepared.

- DO dress the part! So says Jason Warley, CEO of Man in Motion. If it is an audition for a ballet conservatory, for example, have your hair in a bun along with the appropriate ballet attire, including shoes. Conversely, that attire would not work if auditioning for a hip-hop video. In that case, you might wear your hair down and your attire would be a bit trendier or show more personality.

- DO wear dance clothes that fit you well, said Warren. Bright colors are a plus and can set you apart from the rest.

- DO put adhesive tape or safety pins in your dance bag, Warley recommends. Why? If you’re given an audition number tag, it is guaranteed to fall off during full-out movement. In a time-sensitive situation such as this, you do not have time to search around for these items. Reattach the number tag yourself and the problem is solved.

- DO feel free to ask a question of the choreographer when learning the combination, says Cates. However, asking more than one question can become obnoxious - and asking the same question that was already asked just proves to us that you weren't paying attention. More importantly, if you do ask a question, be sure to apply the answer to your audition. We certainly will notice if you fail to do so.

- DO know the beginning of the choreography - and make it strong, advises Warley. Of course, the entire combination should be strong, but rest assured the choreographer's eye will most often gravitate toward what is being done right. If the beginning of the combination is not solid, you run the risk of immediately losing their focus.

- DO show us the details of the choreography as we have delivered it to you, Cates added - whether it applies to counts, style, intent, or otherwise. We want to see what you bring to the movement - but we really want to see what our choreography looks like on your body. Making it your own doesn't mean changing the steps to something else we don't recognize - unless the choreographer asks you to.

- DO feel free to "act at all times" when you dance, said Cates - meaning, perform it! Find the character, the story, the interpretation - and find it right away. There is no time to get comfortable with the movement first, especially during a short audition process. Dancers who aren't afraid to make bold acting choices are dancers that people like to create with.

- DO go to dance class as often as possible between auditions, Cates recommends. It will keep your technique up, but it also helps your brain stay trained on picking up and re-delivering choreography in an efficient manner. Take from many different teachers, so that you don't become stuck in one way of learning.

- DO believe in your talent and your uniqueness - and show it. Good advice from George Warren.

Whatever You Do, Avoid These DON’Ts!

- DON’T be discourteous to anyone you come in contact with, advises Warren, who performed in the national tour of the Broadway musical Whoopee. Show that you are easy to work with and adaptable.

- DON'T be a wallflower, warns Cates, author of The Business of Show: a Guide to the Entertainment Business for the Performing Artist. We aren't only watching you in your small group; we actually are watching you from the time you enter the building. What that means is…don't hide in the back! Rotate lines when asked, but don't shy away from your time in the front when learning…and go full out! Often the dancers who catch my eye in the room early on are the ones who hold my eye when we get to groups.

- DON'T ever turn your back to what is going on in the room, suggests Warley, who was featured in the cover story of the August 2014 issue of Dance Teacher magazine. I always say, "You can learn from those doing it right, and you can learn from those doing it wrong.” In general, turning your back can come off as rude and can make it appear as though you are not interested.

- DON'T stop! If you make a mistake in the choreography, says Warley, continue moving until you can find your way back to it. At auditions, the stakes are high and the pressure is on, but most choreographers will be forgiving, as long as you keep going. Stopping dead in the middle of a combination has never gotten anyone a job - but pushing through can show your professionalism and get you to the next round.

- DON’T balk at any corrections you are given, Warren said. And show that you can incorporate these corrections immediately into your combination.

- DON'T show us the reasons not to hire you, Cates urges. Attitude is everything! Bring positive energy into the room. Negative energy can be felt - and people steer clear of it.

- DON’T beat up on yourself if you are cut. According to Warren, each audition is a learning experience and many times we choreographers make decisions that have nothing to do with your talent - like height, matching partners, etc. If you can't hold on to your belief in yourself and your talent, then show business will be very painful for you.

POP-UP DANCE: The Mock Audition

On Sun. August 7 2016, Man In Motion will present POP-UP DANCE, a new and exciting workshop held in New York City for young dancers (ages 9-17). The theme for this workshop is “The Mock Audition,” which features a full dance class and learning choreography that culminates with a live mock audition. The mock audition will feature a panel of dance professionals who will offer feedback (individually and to the group) on what they observed during the process.

For more details or to register, visit the POP-UP DANCE Information Page.


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