Career Advice

Want to Be a Better Auditioner? Reframe Your Approach with These 4 Steps

Reframing high-stakes auditions as learning opportunities can make you a better auditioner. Photo by Jim Lafferty.

In 2012, freelance contemporary dancer Adrianne Chu made a major career change: She decided to try out for A Chorus Line. "Even though I didn't get the job, I felt like I was meant to do this," says Chu. So she started going to at least one musical theater audition every weekday, treating each as a learning experience. After several years of building up her resumé, Chu's practice paid off: She booked a starring role as Wendy in the first national tour of Finding Neverland.

Approaching auditions as learning opportunities, especially when you're trying to break into a different style or are new to the profession, can sharpen your skills while helping you avoid burnout. It also builds confidence for the auditions that matter most.


Shift Your Mind-Set

Cultivate the skills you need for auditions in class. Photo Courtesy Patel Conservatory.

Start by treating familiar classes like auditions, suggests Dr. Elena Estanol, psychologist and co-author of Dance Psychology for Artistic and Performance Excellence. Focus on the skills you will need, like expression, performance and ability to learn material as quickly as possible. When you arrive at an actual audition, think of it as class in a slightly different environment.

"The key is to adopt a growth mind-set, meaning that every experience is an opportunity for learning, rather than an event in which you have to prove yourself," says Estanol. "See auditions as a chance to showcase your skills and talents, see other dancers, and be exposed to new choreography and styles of teaching."

Learn from Your Competition

Absorb helpful information from your fellow auditioners. Photo by Jim Lafferty.

It's okay to ask your fellow auditioners for tips and extra information. It may seem counterintuitive, because technically they are your competition. However, Dr. Kate Hays, a psychologist who works with dancers and athletes, says that if you feel comfortable, engaging with your peers may help you feel more positively about auditioning. Plus, other dancers may know more about what a certain choreographer likes, or be able to tell you whether to expect rapid-fire cuts. "You make friends, and you take a piece of information from each person," says Chu. "Everyone in the waiting room has a different puzzle piece."

Set Specific Goals

Before Adrianne Chu landed the role of Wendy in Finding Neverland's tour, she familiarized herself with the choreography. Photo Courtesy Chu.

Have a goal in mind separate from whether or not you book the gig: If you are new to cattle calls, for instance, use the audition to get accustomed to being part of a big group. Or, simply familiarize yourself with the choreography of a particular show or a company's repertory. Before Chu was cast as Wendy, she was already familiar with the Finding Neverland choreography because she had been to previous open calls for the show. Auditions may also give you rare access to high-profile choreographers, so relish these opportunities to learn directly from them.

Think It Through

Keep a journal about your audition experiences. Photo by Lisa Fotios/StockSnap.

Reflecting on your performance after an audition is perhaps the most important part of turning it into a constructive experience. "Make sure you don't do this right after," says Hays. "All you'll be able to think about is how you screwed up." Instead, wait at least a few hours, and then ask yourself: What did I do well, what would I do differently in the future, and what did I learn? Estanol recommends keeping a journal to record these thoughts. This will allow you to track your progress over time, and remind you of insights that may ultimately lead to a job

The Conversation
News
Including this extraordinary Travis Wall number for "So You Think You Can Dance" (Adam Rose/FOX)

The Primetime Emmy Award nominations are out! Congrats to the seven choreographers who earned nods for their exceptional TV work this year. Notably, that work was made for just two shows, "So You Think You Can Dance" and "World of Dance."

And there was a particularly remarkable snub: While the dance-filled hit "Fosse/Verdon" earned 17 nominations across many of the major categories, Andy Blankenbuehler's fabulous Fosse remixes weren't recognized in the Outstanding Choreography field.

Here are all the dance routines up for Emmys:

Keep reading... Show less
Rant & Rave

abezikus/Getty Images

"Dancers can do everything these days," I announced to whoever was in earshot at the Jacob's Pillow Archives during a recent summer. I had just been dazzled by footage of a ballet dancer performing hip hop, remarkably well. But my very next thought was, What if that isn't always a good thing? What if what one can't do is the very thing that lends character?

Keep reading... Show less
News
Courtesy Ritzel

Capezio, Bloch, So Dança, Gaynor Minden.

At the top of the line, dancers have plenty of quality footwear options to choose from, and in most metropolitan areas, stores to go try them on. But for many of North America's most economically disadvantaged dance students, there has often been just one option for purchasing footwear in person: Payless ShoeSource.

Keep reading... Show less
Trending
Jayme Thornton

When Sonya Tayeh saw Moulin Rouge! for the first time, on opening night at a movie theater in Detroit, she remembers not only being inspired by the story, but noticing the way it was filmed.

"What struck me the most was the pace, and the erratic feeling it had," she says. The camera's quick shifts and angles reminded her of bodies in motion. "I was like, 'What is this movie? This is so insane and marvelous and excessive,' " she says. "And excessive is I think how I approach dance. I enjoy the challenge of swiftness, and the pushing of the body. I love piling on a lot of vocabulary and seeing what comes out."

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox