Are Auditions Rigged? How to Crack the Code When You're Not Landing Jobs
Are auditions rigged? Sometimes I see mediocre dancers make it into a company, and I just don't get it. The audition process is unnerving for me without feedback or any understanding of the rules.
—Madison, Santa Monica, CA
I've heard of dancers who landed a job because they had a sponsor who paid their salary or a wealthy parent who was a donor. But those are exceptions. Typically, training at a company's school or summer intensive may give you a leg up. Or perhaps the director is more interested in hiring dancers based on characteristics aside from technique, like being open to challenges or working in a collaborative setting. Also remember that directors tend to pick dancers who fit the company's style, body type and need for a particular height.
Where does this leave you? Apart from attending multiple dance programs and auditions, consider participating in competitions and conventions. Use the experience to build relationships with teachers, choreographers and judges—they may lead to future job opportunities.
You also mentioned that the audition process is unnerving for you. Learning how to manage your anxiety can help you perform at your peak in these situations. I recommend these techniques to calm your nerves during and before your next audition: Take five slow, deep breaths to metabolize stress hormones and improve coordination. Reframe the audition in a positive light, such as "I'm excited and ready to go," or think of it as a free class with a choreographer you love. And set reachable goals ("I'll do six auditions a month") versus outcome goals ("I've got to get this job"), which raise the stakes unnecessarily.
Send your questions to Dr. Linda Hamilton at email@example.com.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.
But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)
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