Kate's Note: The Art of Auditioning

January 12, 2010

One evening last fall, I attended an audition preparation lecture for the advanced students at American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy

Onassis School in NYC (where I’m also on the teaching staff). The topics of conversation: well-written resumés, professional-looking headshots and full body shots, audition etiquette and general audition expectations and tips. “Audition season is coming up,” Franco De Vita, the school’s principal, announced. “You must be prepared, and you should go to as many auditions as you can.” He urged even the first-year advanced students to plan to attend company auditions, knowing that they are perhaps a year or two away from being hired. “You need practice for next year.”


The message was loud and clear: Like dance technique, the art of the audition is a skill that needs to be mastered.


Every year Dance Spirit devotes its February issue to auditions. We know that no matter how accomplished or established in the dance world you become, auditions will always be part of your life. Even the most successful Broadway shows close, and even the most talented dancers under contract with major companies have to “audition” for new choreographers and better roles.


Since first impressions matter— sometimes all you get is a 10-minute casting call—we’ve devoted our five-page fashion spread to “Your Perfect Audition Outfit” (p. 32). Fashion editor Lauren Levinson takes all the guesswork out of presenting yourself for your Broadway, commercial, modern, dance team and ballet auditions. Forget accessories (like hats) that can fly off, and ditch the baggy sweat pants that hide your body from casting directors. This year, we want your look to be pristine so your dancing, professionalism and personality can shine through.


Then, because you often don’t get your dream job the first time around, contributing editor Lauren Kay tells you how to “Ace Your Return Audition.” Think that once you’ve been rejected, it’s over? Think again. And because you’ll never get anywhere sitting on your couch, our “2010 Auditions Guide” (p. 66) has 76 auditions you can go to now!


One dancer who knows a lot about the audition process is our cover subject Vivian Nixon. The daughter of Debbie Allen, Vivian burst onto the Broadway scene in the short-lived Hot Feet when she was just 21. Now, three years later, she’s back in the hit show Memphis! In “Next in Line,” Vivian talks about her training, her career ups and downs and what it’s like to be the daughter of a dance icon—both following in her footsteps and forging a new path. Readers take note: She’s one to watch!


So if you think you’ve got what it takes to be in Vivian’s shoes one day (and I hope you do!), don’t underestimate the importance of auditioning skills. Start preparing for success now!


Advice for Auditioning

1. Resumé:
No spelling errors, please! Keep it to one page if possible. If you’ve got three things you really want the casting director to see, put them in bullet points at the top of your resumé.

2. Photos:
Have good quality photos that you’re proud of! You’ll need a headshot and a full body dance shot. Print your name and address on the back of each photo in case your pictures get separated from your resumé.

3. Etiquette:
The audition starts the moment you enter the building. You never know who you’re going to ride the elevator with—it could be with the director or his less-recognizable assistant.

4. Outfit:
Look neat, clean and professional—it shows that you care!

5. Hair and makeup:
More than street, less than stage. If you’re auditioning for Broadway, your hair and makeup should reflect the role you want.

6. Dancing:
Show your technique—perform and dance big. Don’t be a wallflower.


Photo by Mathieu Young/FOX