How To Work The Return Audition

January 31, 2010

You prepared endlessly for an audition for a fab show or company. You made it through the first two cuts (hooray!), but you didn’t get the gig (boo!). Don’t be discouraged: Another call for the same job may pop up again soon, and you should be ready to try out for it. Perhaps this time the artistic team is looking for replacements, casting an additional leg of a tour or has completely different needs. DS spoke to three pros to get the scoop on the dos and don’ts of a return audition.

DO evaluate your initial audition

After your first audition, examine your performance and consider the skills that were required of you. Then brush up on the areas where you lacked strength. Brandon Bryant, a finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance” Season 5, auditioned twice before landing a spot on the show. But he took cues from his first tryout to enhance his performance in the second. “In the audition for Season 4, I realized I needed to learn more about all styles, from ballroom to Broadway,” he says. “I took classes before the next audition to increase my vocabulary.”

You’ll also want to evaluate your initial outfit. Bob Cline, NYC casting director for the national tours of Hairspray and Cabaret, says to “do a comparison with the other dancers in the room. Ask yourself, ‘Did I stand out too much or not enough? Was my outfit appropriate for the job?’ Then, ask a friend you trust for her opinion on your look.” If your previous outfit passes these tests, wear it again—the choreographer might remember “the talented girl in the green dress.”

In addition, think about the roles you’re auditioning for. Are you sure you’re trying out for the part you’re right for versus the one you’d like to play? Perhaps at the return audition you’ll aim for the role of the quirky best friend instead of the lead vixen. “You can position yourself better each time you come back,” Cline says.

DON’T act overly familiar

Although you met the artistic team at the first tryout, don’t talk to them as you would your friends. “Say hello professionally and quickly,” Cline says. “You don’t want to be the girl who needs to get noticed. You want to get noticed for your talent and professionalism.”

If you want to thank the artistic team after an audition, Cline suggests sending a handwritten card in the mail. “Unless they personally give you their e-mail address, never contact someone online,” he says. Carli Samuelson, a corps member of Pacific Northwest Ballet, adds, “Let the point person know when you’re in the area and ask if you can take company class to stay in the artistic team’s view. But don’t be pushy or expect anything.”

DO take notes

The first time you audition with a choreographer, you’ll learn his or her style, which will help you in the next round of auditions. For some tours and musicals, “they give the same combination for four years, like in Hairspray,” Cline says. “They might switch it up a bit to make sure you can pick it up quickly and are on the ball, but if you write the combination down, you can come back and be ahead of the game.”

Samuelson says this strategy was the key to her success at her return audition for PNB. “I was in the professional division but had not gotten a job as an apprentice,” she says. “However, I had taken class with Peter Boal, the artistic director, a lot. When I returned to audition again, I remembered the corrections he had given me—don’t look down and be more aggressive in class—and I applied them in the audition. I got the job!”

DO perform

While you might’ve been nervous the first time around, now you’re better prepared. Show off your newfound confidence! “Go all out like you’re performing in a show,” Samuelson says. Persistence is key in the audition game, so work hard and you’ll rock the tryout—whether it’s your first or fifth try!