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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Call for Tips - 60 Year Old Dancer Heading to FIRST AUDITION


MattMan

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So this prolly sounds crazy, but i am looking for tips and suggestions for how to approach MY FIRST AUDITION, EVER.

I am 64 years old and started dance of any kind, more specifically ballet, two and a half years ago.  There is a community dance ensemble in a neighboring town that put out a call to "all dancers, all styles, all ability levels.  They target three performances per year, and have replied to me they always welcome male dancers, especially for Nutcracker.  I appreciate that there will be no need to get overly nervous about the audition, but at the same time, I tend to have a social phobia where my brain tends to partially shut down when my imperfections might be displayed, especially to strangers.  What suggestions do you have and what are things I might think about ahead of time?

I really have no clue if there are any "should's" or "should not's" concerning wearing to the audition what I typically wear to dance class, viz tee shirt and tights.  The length of my thighs go up and down, so to speak, with the temperatures.  That means these days I wear dance shorts, which become knee length in fall and spring, and full length in winter.     Would it be odd for a guy to wear tights in front of strangers?    

Thanks in advance for any and all comments and suggestions.  Matt

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Way to go Matt! Good on you for pursuing what you love.

As far as general audition etiquette, it can vary but most auditions follow the same basic pattern.  You would arrive with plenty of time to register and warm-up, the depending on numbers you might be divided into groups for a class and you would probably be given a number to pin onto your shirt.  A little bit of nerveousness is always ok, it's natural.  Standard ballet class wear is normal, including tights.  Make sure you are fully warm, you don't want to wear warm-up gear into an audition.  Class would the just proceed like normal.  Keep your focus on yourself, don't worry what anyone else is dong - just be the best 'you' that you can be.  If you make a mistake, don't worry - just keep dancing!! Even if you make it up, do it wih a smile and confidence! Sometimes a 'cut' will be made part way through an audition to reduce the numbers - if you get cut, it's not the end of the world.  It just means you were not what they needed on that day for that role - maybe you will be right for the next one!  At the conclusion of the class they might ask some people to return for more dancing, or they may say they will contact people at a later date.  Either way, you've had a learning experience and hopefully enjoyed yourself.

Chookas for the audition! (That's Australian for Good luck). Let us know how it goes.

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Hi Matt,

I just want to say: you rock.  Go and show them what you've got.

I'm 57 and have had to step away from dance due to a medical issue but I was dancing and performing ballet in my late 40's through the first half of my 50's.  About half the performances were the Nutcracker.  I was a lady in the party scene, Mother Ginger, and (my absolute favorite) 3 times the Housekeeper (which in our production was the top non-advanced dancer/non-kid role).   We also did other story ballets as well as class performances.

I never had to audition because the director knew the dancers from her classes and cast us that way (outsiders had to audition, but that was generally them taking a class).  Honestly, if you think about your audition as a class, that may be the best mind-set.  It's a lot of the advice given to our kids doing summer intensive auditions.  A class where your goal is to impress the teacher, sure, but still something you've been doing for two and a half years.

Ask them if they have a dress code and follow it of course.  My advice is to wear fairly new (clean, no holes) clothes but ones you've worn before (brand new only if duplicates of ones you're used to).  You don't want to be fussing with it during the audition.  Go for the most formal of your dance attire choices and ones that allow the adjudicator to see your body as you dance.  But clothes you feel confident in (both that they're secure and stable but also so you don't feel overly exposed, if that is your concern).  If long tights are something you're comfortable dancing in, I'd wear them.  It's better to look too professional rather than not.

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Thank you so much Miss P and BF for your comments and encouragement.  It means a lot to me.  Matt 

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What a great opportunity for you!! I would recommend full length tights with a dance belt underneath. It is not weird at all!!

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28 minutes ago, TinyDancer_ said:

What a great opportunity for you!! I would recommend full length tights with a dance belt underneath. It is not weird at all!!

Yeah.  Thanks.  The “audition “ was announced as a Call For Dancers,  all styles including ballet, tap, modern, etc.  if it was just ballet I would not have the uncertainty.

As suggested I  emailed specifically asking about wearing my standard class attire and unfortunately received a “rote” reply excerpted from the Facebook announcement that anything comfortable to move in is recommended.   I was disappointed not to receive a more direct response but c’est la vie. 

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First, a huge THANK YOU to everyone for the suggestions and encouragement.

The audition was fun, but more challenging.  I was one of six or seven 18+ age dancers, and the only male.  I do not think any of the other dancers were over the age 21. 

The only ballet we really did was the warm-up plies done in center.  This was followed by five performances each of two modern and/or jazz routines.  The routines were designed for dancers who could move their bodies a lot easier and quicker than a beginning sixty-something year old, but I stayed with it as best I could.  I am proud that while I was a bit behind in the timing of sequences, I never felt "left in the dust."  When we finished they presented me with the dancer contract and welcomed me to join the ensemble!  

I so much appreciated your encouragement and suggestions.  I wore long navy blue tights, a white tee shirt, and beige slippers.  One of the other dancers was in ballet tights (with her hair in a perfect bun, too!), while the others wore things you might see at Pilates or Barr3.  

The ensemble just now is being reformed in a community of about 20,000.  The group disbanded when COVID hit and college-age dancers graduated from the state college in town.  It seems they have yet to identify a choreographer or artistic director, but they have big plans for three "major" productions including Nutcracker in December 2022.  They intend to hire professional dancers from nearby companies (Eugene, Portland, PNB, e.g.) for leads in the "major" productions.  By 2022 maybe I will have the skills to dance more than one of the boxed gifts placed under the Nutcracker tree!

 

Best, Matt

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Mazel tov! 

And thanks for the update.

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Thanks BFam and AmeA.  There is part of the audition experience I wholly did not anticipate.   The sequences in the audition did not leave me completely in the dust, so to speak, even if I was often a step behind.  The facts that I could almost keep up and did not get lost have boosted my confidence, and I really notice a difference in my dancing in class.  Perhaps confidence can be a bit of a Performance Enhancing Drug, a legal PED.  

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Just want to add my congratulations for your bravery and achievement.  Way to go tackling a new experience and making the most of it!!

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