“FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT” is a phrase that strikes fear into the heart of many an actor/singer. While you may not be destined to dance in the ensemble of Cats or A Chorus Line, it doesn’t have to be your destiny to fear a dance call! As a self-proclaimed “surprising mover”, I know that the dance call can be the scariest part of any actor/singer’s audition day. However, it doesn’t have to stay that way!
Most of the time, we’re either scared that 1) We don’t have the technical skills, 2) We won’t be able to keep up with the choreography, or 3) We’re going to fall flat on our faces and embarrass ourselves in front of the casting team. While I can’t guarantee you won’t take a tumble, I can say that using the tips below will definitely boost your confidence for your next dance call!
Hone Your Dance Skills
Most of the time, dance calls will use lots of moves that you’re already familiar with – you just might not feel comfortable with the pace the combination is being taught at or with the level of skill you can execute those moves with. So, what’s the fix?
Taking a class in person is the best way to learn new moves, grow your skill level, and get more comfortable dancing in front of strangers. It’s no secret that the more you practice a skill, the more comfortable you’ll become with it. If taking class in-person isn’t a viable option, there are thousands of videos online that cover technique, combinations, and even mock-audition videos for you to practice your skills from home. Below is a great video to try out a Broadway style dance audition combo at the pace a real dance combination would be taught.
Keeping track of sudden changes of direction or weight placement is an aspect of choreography that lots of people find most difficult. Everyone has a different learning style, so use your time honing your skills to find out what’s best for you. Some people will retain choreography better by using counts while others might focus on imagery/words to describe the movement. Dive into building your skills and find out what works for you!
Give Them Personality!
Make the panel want to watch you! If you book the job, you’ll have weeks of rehearsal to learn the actual choreography and nail every move. When you’re in the audition room, the panel wants to see your personality! If you can sell your attitude, keep smiling, and engage the panel with your dazzling personality, that can go a lot farther than nailing every single step.
Do Your Research
Quite often what can separate a good dance audition from an excellent dance audition are the small details in the performance. When I say details, I’m not necessarily talking about the height of a kick or leap. Think about the world of the show you’re auditioning for – how can you apply details to stylize your movements, making them feel true to the world of the show? Using posture, weight of movement, and facial expressions, you can embody the world of the show and tell a story through your dance.
Another way to feel more “at home” with the choreography in a dance call is by capturing the style of the choreographer. If you understand the choreographer’s style, it can make their movements feel more natural in your body. Many choreographers will take inspiration from choreographing legends such as Bob Fosse, Twyla Tharp, or Savion Glover. Understanding the stylistic differences of genres can be a huge asset. You wouldn’t use the same style in an audition for Chicago as you would for Guys & Dolls. Look up the choreographer of the show you’re auditioning for; chances are they will have posted some of their previous work online and you can get a feel for their style before you get into the room.
In addition to watching your performance, the audition panel is also looking at building a company. They want to cast people who they want to work with. Being professional and prepared is the best way to present yourself in the audition room. So, what does that really mean?
- Bring all your dance shoes and dress in appropriate movement wear. If it’s a tap call, still bring your character shoes or a pair of running shoes. You never know what you might be asked to do in the room!
- Be teachable. No one is perfect on their first try and there’s always room for improvement. By being present and attentive in the session, it will show the panel that you are ready to work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if there’s a section you aren’t understanding – chances are, there’s someone in the room with the same question!
- Have fun! This cannot be overstated. You’re dancing after all! It’s supposed to be joyous and full of emotion. Check your ego at the door and throw yourself into the combo.
Be Your Own Cheerleader
It can be easy to get defeated while you’re in the room. You can’t seem to remember one section of the combination; everyone around you looks like they’ve just stepped out of the New York City Ballet; and there’s an on-the-floor section that makes you feel like you’re flopping around like a fish. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
It can be difficult to keep a positive attitude if you feel like everything is going wrong. It’s sooo important to fight through it! It’s almost certainly not going as badly as you think. We’re always our own worst critic, but it’s important to fuel yourself with confidence and positive thinking. As cheesy as it may sound, changing your mindset can be the key to finding the confidence you need. Be your own cheerleader and root for yourself! The panel wants you to succeed and to put your best foot forward. Remember that you’re there to show off your skills (whatever level those skills may be at) and to have fun!