Dr. Linda Hamilton’s Top Audition Tips

March 19, 2017

Auditions are coming up soon and I want to be mentally prepared to wow directors. Any tips?

—Sasha, New York, NY

You’re already ahead of the game by considering the mental aspects involved. For starters, be aware that tremors, muscle tension or short, choppy breaths are physical signs that you need to calm your mind. Learning to do so can help you focus and exercise fine motor control. To take the edge off before and during an audition, try a few slow, deep, rhythmic breaths. This will reduce stress hormones, calm your nerves and increase your sense of control. It also helps to smile, which alters the blood flow to the brain and releases neurochemicals that relax you.

Since being overly tense as a result of anxiety can interfere with your motor coordination, you may want to add a progressive muscle relaxation exercise to your routine. Making it a habit can help cut down on anxiety, so you’re less likely to feel nervous once you reach an audition. Try it when you’re cooling down or falling sleep—not before you dance or you’ll be too relaxed. First, take a slow, deep breath, then tense the muscles in your back and chest for five seconds as hard as you can before exhaling and letting yourself relax. Repeat and notice the difference between the tension and relaxation. Continue the same exercise twice with your legs and buttocks, arms and shoulders, face and neck, and then your entire body. I once gave this exercise to a group of dancers at the end of a long, hard day of audition classes, and one girl fell asleep and started snoring. While a bit embarrassing, she was much more prepared to get a good night’s sleep. Nevertheless, you might want to practice the exercise reclining in a chair—the goal is to learn how to be relaxed and alert so you can perform at your peak.

Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at [email protected].