Embracing your strengths will lead to more success. Photo by Jim Lafferty

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.

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Courtesy Harlequin

What Does It Take to Make a Safe Outdoor Stage for Dance?

Warmer weather is just around the corner, and with it comes a light at the end of a hibernation tunnel for many dance organizations: a chance to perform again. While social distancing and mask-wearing remain essential to gathering safely, the great outdoors has become an often-preferred performance venue.

But, of course, nature likes to throw its curveballs. What does it take to successfully pull off an alfresco show?

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Dwight Rhodens "Ave Maria," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Keeping dancers safe outside requires the same intentional flooring as you have in the studio—but it also needs to be hearty enough to withstand the weather. With so many factors to consider, two ballet companies consulted with Harlequin Floors to find the perfect floor for their unique circumstances.

Last fall, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre invested in a mobile stage that allowed the dancers to perform live for socially distanced audiences. "But we didn't have an outdoor resilient floor, so we quickly realized that if we had any rain, we were going to be in big trouble—it would have rotted," says artistic director Susan Jaffe.

The company purchased the lightweight, waterproof Harlequin's AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and the heavy-duty Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl, which is manufactured with BioCote® Antimicrobial Protection to help with the prevention of bacteria and mold. After an indoor test run while filming Nutcracker ("It felt exactly like our regular floor," says Jaffe), the company will debut the new setup this May in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park during a two-week series of performances shared with other local arts organizations.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Open Air Series last fall. The company plans to roll out their new Harlequin AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl floor for more outdoor performances this spring.

Harris Ferris, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

In addition to the possibility of rain, a range of temperatures also has to be taken into account. When the State Ballet of Rhode Island received a grant from the state to upgrade its 15-year-old stage, executive director Ana Fox chose the Harlequin Cascade vinyl floor in the lighter gray color "so that it would be cooler if it's reflecting sunlight during daytime performances," she says.

However, for the civic ballet company's first performance on its new 24-by-48–foot stage on November 22, heat was less of a concern than the Northeastern cold. Fortunately, Fox says the surface never got icy or too stiff. "It felt warm to the feel," she says. "You could see the dancers didn't hesitate to run or step into arabesque." (The Harlequin Cascade floor is known for providing a good grip.)

"To have a safe floor for dancers not to worry about shin splints or something of that nature, that's everything," she says. "The dancers have to feel secure."

State Ballet of Rhode Island first rolled out their new Harlequin Cascade™ flooring for an outdoor performance last November.

Courtesy of Harlequin

Of course, the elements need to be considered even when dancers aren't actively performing. Although Harlequin's AeroDeck is waterproof, both PBT and SBRI have tarps to cover their stages to keep any water out. SBRI also does damp mopping before performances to get pollen off the surface. Additionally, the company is building a shed to safely store the floor long-term when it's not in use. "Of course, it's heavy, but laying down the floor and putting it away was not an issue at all," says Fox, adding that both were easy to accomplish with a crew of four people.

Since the Harlequin Cascade surface is versatile enough to support a wide range of dance styles—and even opera and theater sets—both PBT and SBRI are partnering with other local arts organizations to put their outdoor stages to use as much as possible. Because audiences are hungry for art right now.

"In September, I made our outdoor performance shorter so we wouldn't have to worry about intermission or bathrooms, but when it was over, they just sat there," says Jaffe, with a laugh. "People were so grateful and so happy to see us perform. We just got an overwhelming response of love and gratitude."

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Susan Jaffes "Carmina Terra," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

February 2021