Photo by Jim Lafferty.

How I Did It: Secrets Of a Successful Audition

When you're competing against a crowded audition room full of talented dancers, it can feel next to impossible to be the one chosen for the gig. What does it actually take to succeed? Three dancers who recently landed contracts share their keys to success.


Dancer: Roderick Phifer

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Company: BalletX

Photo by Gabriel Bienczyzki, Courtesy BalletX.

What was your mindset going into this audition?

To be a conqueror. I'm usually such a nervous person, but I told myself that nothing was going to get in the way of my focus that day.

How did you prepare?

I got to the audition 45 minutes early and did a few yoga stretches. I listened to Rihanna—her story of being a small-town girl and building herself up from the bottom really inspires me. I ate a bagel, a banana and berries and made sure I had plenty of water and Gatorade to stay hydrated.

What do you think it was that made this audition successful?

I made a decision to look at the choreographers and the directors as they were watching me to let them know that I was present in the room. During certain parts of the audition, I felt more uncomfortable executing the steps, but I just had to push through. I think once you master being uncomfortable, you become more successful in auditions.


Dancer: Jenna Marie

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Company: Ballet Hispánico

Photo by Paula Lobo, Courtesy Ballet Hispánico.

Did you learn anything from the audition?

It is absolutely essential to show who you are in each step presented to you. Directors are not looking for perfection. They want to see how you perform and how you fit in with the company. Doing your research allows you to get a sense of what the director may be looking for. Coming prepared into the audition allowed me to have the confidence to enjoy the process.

What advice you would give to young auditioners?

Truly, one hundred percent believe in yourself. Having confidence even when you mess up allows the director to see how you work and how you recover.


Dancer: Yazmeen Laidler

Hometown: Miami, FL

Company: Ailey II

Ms. Laidler in Marcus Jarrell Willis "Stream of Consciousness."Photo by Kyle Froman, Courtesy Ailey II.

What was your mindset going into this audition?

I was thinking, "I have to prove to this panel that I am the best candidate for the job." My nerves had gotten the best of me in previous auditions, preventing me from truly showing my personality. Not everyone gets invited to the Ailey II audition, so I had to trust that I would do just fine if I presented myself as the best artist I could be.

Do you have a pre-audition routine?

I always call my mom. After talking to her I feel more calm and at ease.

What is something you learned from this audition?

The judges behind the table want to see someone who can enjoy the simple movements—like gestural phrases—in addition to powerhouse choreography. Even if the phrase isn't what you're used to, or you mess up, you can still catch someone's eye because of your joy and confidence.

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Courtesy Esse

What It Was Like When Ruth Bader Ginsburg Was in the Audience—or Backstage

The 27 years that Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent on the U.S. Supreme Court were 27 years that she spent as one of Washington, D.C.'s most ardent, elegant and erudite supporters of the performing arts. The justice, who died on September 18 of metastatic cancer, was also an avid cultural tourist, traveling to the Santa Fe and Glimmerglass operas nearly every summer, as well as occasionally returning to catch shows in her native New York City.

Ginsburg's opera fandom was well known, but her tastes were wide-ranging. Particularly in the last 10 years of her life, after Ginsburg lost her beloved husband, Marty, it was not unusual for the petite justice and her security detail to be spotted at theaters several nights a week. She saw everything, from classic musicals to serious new plays, plus performances that defied classification, like Martha Clarke's dance drama Chéri, with Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo, which toured to the Kennedy Center in 2014.

To honor Ginsburg, Dance Magazine asked three dance artists whose performances the justice attended to recall what Ginsburg meant to them.

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