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.
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
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