All Things Ballet...Part 2: Auditions
Emily was 7 when she auditioned the first time for The Nutcracker with the company at Nevada Ballet Theatre. Actually, this was her first ballet audition ever in the history of her whole, entire life! We had absolutely no idea that this would be the beginning of a long, exciting, nerve racking, energizing, crazy and sometimes difficult path of auditions. Auditions that would lead to many acceptances and yes, many rejections. By the way, Emily is only 14 so we still have so many more to conquer!
Last weekend we headed to Missouri to audition for ballet summer intensives; however, icy roads kept us from trekking on a three-hour road trip from Springfield to Kansas City. We have made many trips during the wintertime for these auditions. In fact, auditions have become a norm for us as a family and, even if you have absolutely nothing to do with the world of dance (except to watch it on TV) this blog may at least entertain you. It might even make you grateful that you do not have to step out onto the American Idol like stage to audition for complete strangers who will happily judge you based solely on your abilities without getting to know you AT ALL!
Auditions in general:
Summer intensive auditions are a whole other animal and we will look at that in more detail later in this blog. However, in the life of any dancer, auditions are continual and, believe it or not, a great experience even when rejection is passed on, ouch! Emily has continual auditions for both regular school and her ballet school. Depending on the audition, there are different things the judges will look for and, yes, it does feel like a reality show! One thing that is constant for every audition, every time, every genre, is stage presence. In every audition, show the judges who you are, show them that you love what you are doing and show them that you will be the best person they can choose. Why? Because even if you aren’t the best dancer (let’s face it, there is always someone better no matter what you do), the judges will remember the dancer who drew them in and commanded their attention through stage presence.
How do you capture stage presence that seems natural and does not consist of Jazz hands? Through your facial expressions, your demeanor and your posture. The eyes ARE windows to your soul and the judges want to see that you have the heart and soul to touch each member of the audience! Your facial expression should be natural but also a portrayal of the music and the steps. Now, let’s talk posture. If you are holding your arms like a dead bird, well . . . let’s put it this way, Emily may have been told a time or two that her arms do not end at her elbows. Holding your back strong is as crucial to posture as eyelids to blinking. Really? Maybe not but it gets the point across. Finally, at the end of the audition make sure to curtsy and thank the teacher or choreographer. It is protocol and an extreme faux pas to go running from the room without doing so!
Ballet Summer Intensives:
Every year ballet companies across the world hold ballet summer intensives and many of these companies do travelling auditions. If you know what companies you are interested in attending, you can just go to their websites and find out dates and locations for those auditions. There are other resources available that will supply you with those dates and Pointe Magazine is one. We will usually travel to one or two locations and, for some reason, we always choose places that have winter, I mean serious winter! Many of the companies do not require photos or resumes and prefer to choose their students based solely on the audition. If you need to provide a picture, make sure to know specifics: head shots, arabesque, etc. and GET THEM DONE EARLY! Because we typically do more than one photo session to satisfy the dancer in the family, yes Emily, we always check ASAP if a picture is required and then get right on it months before the auditions. Also note any registration deadlines or if pre-registration is even required. We looooove the ones that you can just drop in to allow for, well just about anything unexpected in our schedule. You will also need to find out if housing is provided because no need to audition if housing is a MUST. Finally, make sure to bring all gear that the company has posted is required. Usually, leotard (black is standard but some allow color), tights with a spare for who knows what, ballet shoes (Emily likes canvas but some may require leather), pointe shoes and all things needed for the little toes to stay protected like tape, toe pads, bandages, etc. It is also a good idea to bring a sewing kit for any loose ribbons or elastics. Oh, hair products because the ballet bun is always a requirement: bobby pins, hair nets, ponytail holders, good smoothing brush and hairspray. The MOST important thing you can do is study the ballet company’s website which is where you will find all the information. Also, as we found out this time around, check their site often as they will post cancellations, which happened to us this year. Try not to put all your eggs in one basket because, rejections are possible (sadness).
Our final thought is to just be your best and not anyone else’s. Try not to compare yourself with anyone else and enjoy where you are, what you are doing and the experience as a whole. Once again, this is just the opinion of a dancer and her mom and we are pretty sure you can find helpful information elsewhere, but why would you?
Thanks for reading and supporting our blog!
Kristin and Emily
The Shopping Part:
Our favorite gear for auditions to go over our dance gear and sometimes under and to stay warm while waiting to audition (ok, Emily is the only one in dance gear but Kristin does like her lululemon):
Starbucks (this is a personal choice and not part of the recommendation just a reflection).