6 Ways To Embrace Your Type—And Get Cast More Often
When it comes to auditioning, you have to think like a casting director. What is your type? How can you embrace it so that you can get cast in the roles that fit you best?
Getting hired is about more than just talent. Directors are looking at everything: from your height, to your energy, to understudy requirements—if you are a replacement in a Broadway show, for example, you have to be able to slot into it seamlessly. The creative team will size you up immediately when you walk into the studio, so make sure you're projecting the right message from the start.
1. Showcase Your Strengths
Focus on rep and roles that suit you best. Here, a Martha Graham Dance Company audition. Photo by Rachel Papo
Maybe you're not quite sure yet what your type is. Casting director Michael Donovan recently gave this advice at a musical theater workshop put on by Los Angeles vocal coach Carol Weiss: "What do you have that no one else in the room has?"
If people always laugh at your stories, target comedy roles. If you are gifted with an exquisite physique, show it, and be sure to include body shots with your photos. If you have a lovely vulnerable quality, show it off in the story behind your solo or song.
2. Don't Try to be Something You're Not
An audition for A Chorus Line. Photo by Rachel Papo
Setting your sights on roles you're not right for will only lead to disappointment. If a director needs an older, seasoned, Fosse dancer for Chicago, and you come across as young, perky and wholesome, you probably won't be cast. On the other hand, Hello Dolly! hires dancers with excellent ballet training, and who have a period look. Actresses from the old movies did not have tattoos or body piercings; if you can't cover yours up, target more contemporary work.
3. Select Your Outfit Strategically
The right outfit can help a director imagine you in the work. Photo by Jim Lafferty
The choices that you make in clothing, hairstyle and grooming affect how people perceive you. If you're auditioning for a classic show, study movies from that era to get familiar with the particular style of hair and make-up. Or look at company members' Instagram accounts to see how they dress in rehearsal. Casting director Mark Simon recommends getting the most expensive haircut you can afford before an important audition. Wear something that is not only clean and flattering, but puts you in the mindset of the character or show.
4. Choose the Right Song
If you're auditioning for musical theater, your song choice can be pivotal. Photo by Kyle Froman
If you're auditioning for musical theater, your song should fit you perfectly. It should match your age, range, natural vocal ability and personality. If you resemble a particular character, learn their songs. With YouTube, you can do all kinds of research from home.
5. Go With The Flow
It's not just about you, but how you fit in with the group. Here, an audition for Shen Wei Dance Arts. Photo by Colin Fowler.
It's not just you at an audition. You're a piece of the puzzle. Richard Hester, supervising director of Jersey Boys, says they study how the performers fit together as a group. Stay open to direction, and listen carefully. Write down everything they tell you—this will come in handy if you're called back, or if you audition for the production again in the future.
6. Listen To Others' Advice
If friends tell you that you'd be perfect for a particular job, audition. Photo by Matthew Murphy for Pointe.
Others may perceive you differently than you see yourself. If everyone tells you that you are perfect for a particular company or show, audition. If you are asked to try out for a different role than you wanted, cooperate. They may see something in you that you never saw yourself.
You know compelling musicality when you see it. But how do you cultivate it? It's not as elusive as it might seem. Musicality, like any facet of dance, can be developed and honed over time—with dedicated, detailed practice. At its most fundamental, it's "respect for the music, that this is your partner," says Kate Linsley, academy principal of the School of Nashville Ballet.
Notable dancer and beloved teacher, Ross Parkes, 79, passed away on August 5, 2019 in New York City. He was a founding faculty member at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, where he taught from 1984 to 2006. Lin Hwai-min, artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theater, said: "He nurtured two generations of dancers in Taiwan, and his legacy will continue."
About his dancing, Tonia Shimin, professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara and producer of Mary Anthony: A Life in Modern Dance, said this: "He was an exquisite, eloquent dancer who inhabited his roles completely."
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
More than once, when I'm sporting my faded, well-loved ballet hoodie, some slight variation of this conversation ensues:
"Is your daughter the dancer?"
"Actually," I say, "I am."
"Wow!" they enthuse. "Who do you dance with? Or have you retired...?"
"I don't dance with a company. I'm not a professional. I just take classes."
Insert mic drop/record scratch/quizzical looks.