10 Tips to Stand Out in an Audition


Remember it’s not a job, it’s your career. If you want it bad enough, you have to push your limits and get yourself out there.

We’ve cooked up a recipe that involves a lot of focus, hard work, and of course a dash of spice to help our young pre-professional dancers get ready for that big audition.

Auditions don’t differ that much from a normal class, except for the fact that there is ten times more pressure, a little extra judgement and perhaps some directors or choreographers making obvious hints at who’s got what they’re looking for.

Get out your ingredients and let’s start cooking up the perfect recipe for a successful audition!

Learn to adapt

Great dancers aren’t just good at dancing. One of the things that make professional dancers great is their ability to adapt.

Directors, choreographers, and dance masters just love that! Knowing that a dancer is versatile in their movement, with mannerisms that can easily change is an exciting thing for any choreographer. Plus, you’ll be booking more jobs! The judge panel will always look for dancers who can maintain their technique while moving with versatility. A clean, performance-ready technique is the baseline.

Learn Quickly and Apply Corrections

Most dance masters or directors may teach very quickly and of course, expect you to pick up things real quick too. More often than not, that 32-count combination will be demonstrated only ONCE by the dance master and it shows who’s willing to focus, commit, pick up and deliver.

Dress to Impress

First impressions definitely last in auditions. So don’t come in looking like you’ve just woken up and missed your bus. Lose those fuzzy leg warmers! Pick out an appropriate dance wardrobe that will emphasise your “lines”, and show your extremities. Unless given explicit instructions on the required audition uniform, you can never go wrong with something clean and neat in a bright color. It’s also important to feel good, comfortable and confident in what you wear, so dress up in dancewear that compliments those attributes. Try not to hide your body under baggy clothes, otherwise the director or choreographer won’t have a chance to see the full potential of your movement skills. It’s all about honesty.

Keep Calm and “5,6,7,8!” On

Treat yourself to your favourite music playlist, sip a cup of lavender tea, or do whatever helps calm down your nerves. Focus on your own movement, process and journey, never compare yourself to the other dancers around you. Confidence and focus is key to bringing your best to an audition. No one wants to be that dancer who desperately searches for approval after every combination--just do your thing and focus.

Roll With the Punches

One part of standing out is being professional, and it means that if you make a mistake, don’t make it so obvious. Be cool and act like nothing happened. At the end of the day, it’s all about your performance skills, and part of performing is overcoming movement mishaps and the art of reshaping mistakes into something innovative.

Personality Matters

Most of the time when we say audition, we think technique, artistry, but actually personality plays a big role in auditions.

The kind of dancer who not only knows how to move, but is also able to cooperate and get along with the other dancers is important. If you are taking a ballet audition for example, don’t just go to the barre and take someone else’s spot. Always ask if that spot is taken or not, because for all you know it may be the principal dancer’s spot you are standing on.

Always be aware of the people and spacing. Remember that manners matter too!

Show Off

Outside the world of dance, most people despise a show off, but when it comes to auditioning, it is a must.

Now is the time to go all out. Stand in front, go to the middle, take in corrections even if they weren’t directed to you. Repeat combinations three, or four times, because they may have not seen you the first time or the second, hold those extra balances---perform like its your last performance.

Fake it until you make it

There’s gonna be a bit of research involved here. Before coming into the audition, you have to know what they like, and what they’re looking for in a dancer. Do your research, no matter what kind of dance audition it is that you are doing. If you’re auditioning for a certain role, you have to learn about the character, the mood of what or who you are portraying to bring the character to life.

Be Flexible

Now I don’t mean legs going 180 degrees, and high extensions, etc. But just like adapting, showing how versatile you could be is actually such a big plus!

Let’s take a dancer with a background of classical training for example, just because that dancer is classically trained doesn’t mean that they’ll get the job, because the job might require them to execute other genres of dance.

The Must-Haves

If you have done your research, you’ll know the style of the company, and other specifics required of a certain role or gig, therefore choreographers and directors will look for different qualities in dancers.

But mainly, a good work ethic, musicality, amazing technique and versatility always make a dancer stand out and that only proves one thing when you get into an audition, like Christine Cox says, “You’re either a good dancer or you aren’t”.

Choreographer, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa once said, “There is no band-aid for rejection” and that can be the hardest thing for a dancer to face, but like competitions, auditions can be pretty subjective.

Remember that each and every dance company can be so specific and different about what they are looking for, so even if you don’t make it, it doesn’t always reflect your ability to dance and perform. Not all auditions have a happy ending, and if you’ve been told that you are not suitable for the company or the role, despite trying your best to stand out, that is perfectly fine. Shake it off, and maybe that next audition will open up doors for you!

Photo: Dancers auditioning in New York City for The School at Jacob's Pillow. Photo by Karli Cadel.