This Is How You Nail Your Audition Outfit, According to Pros

February 17, 2022

Whether you’re gearing up for a summer intensive audition or hoping to land a spot in a company, what you wear can help you feel confident, comfortable and ready to concentrate on your dancing. “I think it’s similar to life,” says Jake Vincent, who joined the Paul Taylor Dance Company in 2020 after dancing with Taylor 2 since 2017. “If you’re wearing an outfit that you really feel great in or that’s brand-new, you’re going to walk a little bit more proudly.”

So how exactly do you go about finding an audition outfit that’s also confidence-boosting? We turned to three professional dancers who have years of experience honing their sartorial senses across ballet, modern, commercial and Broadway auditions.

Do Your Research

Before you start combing through your wardrobe, get a thorough understanding of who you’re auditioning for. “I begin by reading all of the casting details thoroughly, because if they list things like ‘bring heels’ or ‘wear formfitting clothing,’ you want to start with those details and build from there,” says Fana Tesfagiorgis, a former dancer with Alvin Ailey American­ Dance Theater whose recent work includes Broadway, television and film projects. “Then I always look up the show, company or creative team to see what their tendencies are. History, culture and time period also matter. So for a show like Ain’t Too Proud, I’ll dive into the lives of legendary Black women, like Tammi Terrell, Diana Ross and Mary Wilson, to gain inspiration for how I appear in the room and how I move.”

dancer in black bike shorts and pink leotard
Fana Tesfagiorgis. Photo courtesy Tesfagiorgis.

Do a Test Run

Pacific Northwest Ballet corps member Juliet Prine recommends also rehearsing your wardrobe ideas. “Try your outfit in class or rehearsal to see how you feel, and text a quick pic to a friend or family member to get a second opinion,” she advises. “I once borrowed a beautiful leotard from a friend for a studio showing, but I didn’t think about how thin the material was. The leotard ended up pretty sweaty and had my partner’s sweat all over it as well.”

Plan for the Unexpected

It’s always better to be overprepared than to be thrown off by a last-minute switch-up or an outfit malfunction. “Bring multiple looks, hair products, a little bit of makeup and every type of shoe imaginable, because you never know what they’re going to throw at you,” says Vincent. “And definitely bring kneepads if you’re auditioning for a modern company.”

Keep It Consistent

As for callbacks, you should generally wear the same thing. “If the same outfit is clean and ready, that’s what I’ll be returning in,” says Tesfagiorgis. Vincent agrees: “You want the artistic director and team to be able to find you quickly,” he says. “If it’s a more intimate setting, like an invited call that’s under 10 people, then you can kind of test the limits.”

The Big Picture

Your audition style is very much a personal choice. “The main goal is to share yourself,” Tesfagiorgis says. “Listen to your instincts, and ask mentors or company and cast members if you have access to them,” she suggests. What you wear also shouldn’t take away from the real focus: your dancing. “The people at the table in front of you want to be moved artistically,” Vincent says. “I know it’s cliché, but if you’re enjoying yourself and putting 100 percent effort into the movement that you’re given, they can’t miss that.”

dancer in blue leotard, pink wrap skirt and pointe shoes
Juliet Prine. Photo by Yuki Takahashi, Courtesy Prine.

Quick Tips

Fana Tesfagiorgis
Fit matters: “My audition outfit has to fit well as I dance and as I stand, so that I can keep my focus on the craft. If someone is constantly adjusting their straps or pulling on their shirt, it can reflect discomfort or second-guessing.”

Finishing touches: “As far as makeup, I love to keep it natural, but I may add eyelashes for Broadway auditions. For my hair, I have ways to keep it out of my face while still letting my texture and volume be shown. There is a dire need for the normalization and appreciation of more Afros onstage, on TV, billboards, magazines—everywhere.”

Juliet Prine
Pointe shoe prep: “I prepare one really good pair and also bring a backup. I do best when my shoes are very hard, so I only wear them for class once, and then put them away until the audition.”

Ditch the warm-ups: “You’re auditioning to let them see you dance, so let them really see you.”

male dancer in blue unitard
Jake Vincent. Photo courtesy Vincent

Jake Vincent
Winning Taylor look: “I have more of an athletic build, and I knew that the aesthetic of Taylor was long lines and tights. Instead of picking tights and a T-shirt, I chose a unitard, which would lengthen me.”

Fabric preferences: “I tend to stick more to harder fabrics like lycras, and I stay away from cottons, because they have a higher chance of ripping.”