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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Audition Tips for Adults


je danse dans ma tete

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I have decided that I need more dance in my life. As there are not many places in my city where adults can receive serious dance instruction (let alone serious ballet instruction), I am currently stuck taking only 2 classes per week. I have been searching all summer for another studio, school, private instructor etc. and have tried out several with no luck. There are many excellent schools for children and teens but if you are over 21 there is really only one place that is truly technique-focused and that is where I currently go.

 

That said, I would like to take a class at a local university (I attend this university but am not an undergrad). It runs 3 times per week, and each class is about 2 hours long. That class, if I get in, would bump up my weekly ballet hours from just under 4 to about 9.5. However, there is one problem. To get in, you have to audition. The class is in high demand and from what I hear about 40-50 audition each year, and only 20-30 get in. It's a split level class, so based on the audition you get placed in either the higher level (low-advanced) or the lower level (high-intermediate). You have to have a certain grade in the intro level ballet class from the university to audition (I have successfully taken it). There are dance majors in the classes but ballet majors take separate classes. They do more ballet hours, and they also do pointe, whereas in the class I am auditioning for it is optional.

 

My apologies for rambling, I get very into details sometimes! All that is my lead in to the question: "Does anyone have any audition tips for an adult dancer?"

 

I've never actually been to an audition or audition class before, and don't know what to expect. The girls I have seen in the university's dance classes seem to be more relaxed in terms of attire (always tights and leotards, but I have seen various colours of both, as well as skirts on some). I know that every dance school, perhaps even class, has its own culture. I don't want to stick out like a sore thumb and be the only one wearing black and pink on audition day.

 

Anyone who has ever auditioned for anything ballet-related, please share your experiences and advice. Specifically:

 

1) What should one wear? Is it better to err on the side of pink tights, black camisole leotard, or perhaps to wear something a bit more distinctive such as a coloured leotard (with black or pink tights)? Or maybe do the black and pink with a uniquely styled leotard (maybe a strappy-back or a high neck)? Perhaps a black ballet unitard? Skirt or no?

 

2) Hairstyle recommendations? Is a hair jewel, small flower etc a good or bad idea?

 

3) Makeup: non-existent, very light (mascara and coloured lip gloss), or a bit more (mascara, eyeliner, light blush, and coloured lipgloss) to enhance one's features?

 

4)Where is is best to stand for barrre? for center?

 

5) For diagonal combinations, is it better to try and go first (without being pushy), in the middle, or last?

 

6) What do you do if you mess up a combination?

 

7) Anything else that you'd like to share?

 

I don't have much hope of getting in but you never know! Thanks so much for all and any insight, stories, etc.

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1.) Pink tights for sure, I'd say. Even seamed to elongate your lines. Stumpy folk like me will take what we can get. However, I'd stay away from strappy back leotards. I feel like they're kind of tacky. For myself, I'd like to get noticed, so I'd probably wear a colorful leotard that flattered my body type in a classic style. I really like pinch fronts and pinch backs. I'd stay away from halters for an audition. Even though I like them, I've heard more than one teacher say they don't elongate the neck. I don't agree, but if the people in charge have that pre-disposed notion, I'd veer away. Have you thought about perhaps wearing a name brand leotard? I know it sounds silly, but it might also get you noticed more too (eg. Degas, Wear Moi, Yumiko, or Lolastretch). Be clean looking.. nice tights and leotard, hair, etc. Outside of auditioning for a contemporary company, I think this is still pretty important.

 

2.) I think having something in your hair is a good idea as long as it isn't gaudy, big, or stands way out. For instance, a little jeweled pin in your bun or a small flower or colored bow in your bun. I'd stay away from obvious.

 

3.) I prefer make up as long as it's not melting off faces. Like the ladies of the Paris Opera and Kirov, "Why wouldn't you want to look and feel your best?" I've had a teacher from the Kirov say that to us before. I was a make up artist for a while, so if you need tips for natural stay-put make up, send me an message. Lipstain, a little bit of gloss perhaps (or chapstick so you don't feel conscious of it), waterproofed mascara for sure, eyeliner, eyeshadows (I have great product recommends for staying on during dance), and blush.

 

4.) Stand where you'll get noticed. Hopefully your technique will get you noticed. For Center, if you're confident you can pick up the combinations and execute them well, then by all means, go front and center! If you're unsure, but fairly pleased with your learning ability, I'd say go 2nd line so you can still glimpse someone.

 

5.) Again, for diagonale, if you're confident in your technique and you're sure that you pick up fast, front and center is great. I had a teacher from Lines Ballet for almost a year that insisted that we show and exude confidence at auditions, because that quick learning skill and security in one's own technique would grab a director's attention.

 

6.) Mess up? Play it off. Keep going. Catch up. Don't stop and stare. Was that supposed to be an entrechat-trois? Whoops, guess it's a coupé jeté now. Hopefully you catch up and keep going as if you meant to do that.

 

7.) Be completely warmed up on your own, arrive early, scope out what the general atmosphere is, bring extra clothes in case, have your student CV with headshot ready, research the adjudicators and auditioner so you kind of know what to expect or what they might like, but besides that, dance your heart out and merde!

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And don't forget to thank the teacher, pianist, and judges when appropriate.

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I agree completely with LaFilleSylphide. If you feel you can get away with it, wear a white leotard- I think the color denotes confidence. If not, wear your favorite- if you like the way you look,, that will also boost confidence. Light makeup is good, and don't let anything mental get in the way, just note the exercises, and DANCE, show your joy.

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Great ideas, LaFilleSylphide! I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write that out for me! :)

 

Missvjc420, I own a white (front-lined) pinch-front cami that just so happens to look great on me! ;)

 

I almost had to audition twice in the past (once for a dance minor program at another university, and once at a studio) but both of those auditions turned out to be placement classes as they had room for everyone who wanted to get in. A couple people who "auditioned" actually never came back despite being accepted- they probably decided to take other options. My current situation is a bit more intimidating! I might even manage to talk myself out of it... haha.

 

I was thread hunting and found this old thread, also very helpful, and I wanted to put it here just FYI if anyone else is interested:

 

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=21002

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I have never auditioned before (I am not in that league) so my opinions are just mine....

 

LaFilleSylphaide has it down to a tee, but I would like to add that you clearly love dancing, let it show! This is the one thing that I notice the most while watching professional performances.

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Balletlove- your advice sounds simple, but is actually one of the most difficult things for me. I often feel like if I smile or dance with a great deal of enthusiasm, it sends the message that I am pleased with my performance, mistakes and all!

 

That said, I typically try to prevent myself from smiling even if I'm having a blast, and opt for a neutral face. Similarly, I tend to under-dance when I know that I am being watched, and let loose as soon as the teacher turns away. :crying: Once, I was practicing in a studio after class and the curtains were drawn to cover the mirrors because it was exam time. Unbeknownst to me, one of my teachers walked into the room. I don't know how long he had watching me, but he waited until I had finished and then put his hands on his hips and frowned at me saying: "Now why don't you dance like that in class?"

 

It is counter-intuitive but I think I have developped it as a defence mechanism... It's like, if I get sterrnly corrected on this or that, I can fool myself into thinking "oh, well I really wasn't dancing full out". I just have an inherent fear of my best not being anywhere near good enough. :shrug:

 

So thank you for the reminder, I shall start letting my love of dance show through more often!

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I am not a dance audition expert, but I do have several basic techniques that apply across the board for the performing arts (acting, vocal and dance)

 

1. Much of your appearance depends greatly on the project at hand. If I'm auditioning for a new age musical about hippies, I'll wear something different than if I'm auditioning for a classical choir. Mostly, you want to project yourself into the director's vision. Can this person wear tie dye? Are they able to work in heels? For dance, there are as many different ideas as there are in theatre. Is this formal ballet? Is this a jazzy contemporary idea? This goes for hair as well.

 

2. Making yourself "stand out" can work as much against you as it can work for you. If you take the risk of wearing a bright purple leotard....and everyone is wearing black? Often a negative point. For safety reasons (and you can get away with this in dance much more than in theatre), bring several options. Arrive early, and observe a bit before you change. If there's a trend, go for the trend, and let your dancing speak for itself. If it looks like there's a big variety, let -your- personality sink through your choice. (Example - I don't do "neon" colors, or anything like that. Even if the other dancers have totally neat looking dance wear, I often stick with a classic look, because that's who I am.)

 

3. If there are auditions over more than one day, and this is emphasized in every audition book I have read, WEAR THE SAME COLOR. They may have so many people auditioning, they can't necessarily recognize your face. If you wear bright red one day, and you do well, they'll be looking for bright red again. If you change colors, and it's the same purple a lesser dancer was wearing yesterday, they may accidentally associate you with that dancer.

 

4. Directors want to see -you-. Putting tons of make up on your face, even "naturally", won't stay very well after hours and hours of audition time. My advice for my students is always the same. Waterproof mascara. A very light colored eyeshadow. Chapstick. If you need it, use a very light foundation and maybe a tiny bit of powder, but go for your own natural look. This will look and feel much fresher at the end of the day.

 

5. First, center, last. Someone has to be in all these places. Rushing for the center of the barre isn't going to score any points with your fellow audition-ers, and frankly, directors aren't looking for where you are in the room. They're watching -how- you perform. My advice? On barre, -dance- the barre. Across the floor, -dance- the combination. They want to see if you can perform. So, perform! Front of the room, back of the line, your performance will stand out for itself. And, often forgotten, SMILE. Not that cheesy recital smile, but the soft performance face you would use on stage.

 

6. If you mess something up, and you will, the director probably isn't looking for perfection. They're looking to see if you'll keep going. If you'll be so thrown off by one missed step that you fall apart. Again, if you are fully "performing" whatever combination you're doing, your dancing will stand out on its own. This is the same for vocal performance, and acting. Often, mistakes can be covered up simply by ignoring them and doing the rest of the combination without getting flustered.

 

Again, these are tips that are used across the audition boards. If I missed something, this is only my own experience.

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je danse dans ma tete I know that it is a whole lot easier to be where I am saying let your love of dance show than actually doing it. Maybe finding something between performing in which you show your love of dancing and dancing with your eyes closed - and I dont mean this literally, but rather allowing yourself to dance as you would if no one was watching is your solution?! If you have a good couple of classes before the audition, try "performing" at these and see if anything works, if you get any wow comments then you know it has worked and where and go home and write down what you were thinking at the time you were doing that.

 

I do know what you mean about getting tense when you are being watched, I do this particularly badly with pirouettes I CAN do really good doubles and sometimes even triples when I am relaxed but let me be trying to do this and even a single can be horrific. Here I found something that I read in Finis' book helpful, he said something like the rhthym for a double is ta-ta (click your tongue lightly against your front teeth), now what I try to do is do this not only just before I start the exercise but as I am going into the turn and because I am concentrating on clicking my tongue I cannot tense the jaw and neck and round I go with ease.

 

Please keep us posted and let us know when your audition is so we can all hold thumbs for you!

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