How to help your dancer prepare for an audition: eight healthy strategies
Every dancer has the opportunity to audition, whether it’s for a role on a studio team or a professional company, for a high school dance team or for admission into a college program. There’s no denying that dancers can get anxious about auditions, but you can help them get ready to channel that nervous energy into a brilliant performance. An audition provides a dancer with opportunities to showcase her strengths to judges, a situation that will play out in real life for years to come well beyond the world of dance.
- Encourage regular practice and versatility. Dancing is a talent, but it’s also a learned skill, and dancers who work hard in class will see their efforts pay off when they’re able to pick up choreography quickly at an audition. Your dancer should take each class seriously and listen to feedback from instructors in order to improve technique. When your child masters one type of dance, he or she should try something completely different in order to be versatile and prepared for anything in an audition. Taking new classes will also help your dancer practice picking up new choreography quickly. Learning choreography is as much of a skill as performing.
- Encourage cross training. Yoga increases flexibility and core strength. Cardio will increase endurance and work with resistance bands or weights can increase strength for partnering.\ The audition process often involves running dances over and over again. This element of the audition will show who has endurance and who doesn’t.
- Help with general healthy behaviors. Your dancer should be getting enough sleep on a regular basis. In terms of diet, encourage fruits, vegetables, complex carbs and lean proteins on a regular basis, not just audition week. Good sleep and nutrition lead to a strong dancer, but even better, they lead to the mental clarity needed to process all the information that will be thrown their way at an audition. On the day of, your dancer should eat a light meal about an hour before the audition in order to be in prime condition for a great performance.
- Be informed before you go. What genre of dance is highlighted? Is there a fee for the audition? Do you need to fill out any forms beforehand or bring a headshot?
- Know what to wear. Read the audition materials closely to see whether the directors want to see specific clothing. Generally, it’s important to wear form-fitting clothing so the company or directors can really see form and technique. Your dancer should try to wear something that will make him stand out yet will look neat and professional. Above all, it’s important to bring the proper shoes for the dance they’re performing.
- Be ready for surprises. Some companies will ask dancers to perform an “improv” piece; others will ask for a group performance. Find out everything you can in advance, but be prepared to adapt to unexpected requests.
- Arrive to the audition early. Give your dancer time to check out the stage or studio and warm up. Encourage them to stretch, listen to their favorite music and get centered and ready to focus. Discuss the importance of nonverbal signals. Often when young dancers are nervous, smiling is the furthest thing from their minds. Aside from technique, it’s also important for dancers to show that they are friendly team players, and it’s a good idea to look at other audition hopefuls as potential team members instead of the competition. The audition begins the moment your dancer walks in the door.
- Maintain perspective. If your dancer is not selected, some disappointment is natural, but this is valuable training for life. People who hold auditions are often looking for a specific type of dancer (“grounded” versus “lift”, jazz versus ballet) and as you start looking at the university level, sometimes even a specific height range and body build. Whatever the case, it’s just an audition. It is one particular set of opinions; they don’t represent all the people in the world looking for dancers.
In the wise words of our own Miss Kylie, “Remember that we all have different styles and talents to offer and in dance, every single person who watches, critiques and judges you will see something different, but what each one of you has to offer is absolutely beautiful and incredible.”
Whether auditioning for a dance company or interviewing for a job, those are indeed words to remember.