We are in the midst of an important time in the dance world: audition season! The time when dancers audition for as many companies as they can in hopes of getting a job. In this column I spoke with our artistic director at Oklahoma City Ballet, Robert Mills, and he offered some tips for dancers wanting to get into a professional company.
1. Arrive prior to the scheduled registration time and warm yourself up before the audition. Many auditions are crammed with people and it is not the objective of the person holding the audition to make sure you get a good class and make sure you are warm. Do that on your own prior to barre. You will dance better in the audition for it.
2. Dress in clean simple dance attire but avoid the traditional pink and black for women and black and white for men. You want to present yourself not as a student, but as a professional ready for work in a company environment. Right away, when you wear the aforementioned colors, you are potentially allowing the person running the audition to perceive you more as a student. With that said, you also do not want to wear bright garish colors or busy patterns and logos. You want to keep things simple with solid colors, have your hair and make up neat, keep warm ups to a minimum and remove them after a few combinations at barre, keep jewelry to a minimum, and ladies have pointe shoes ready for center.
3. If asked or required to speak, speak professionally with good grammar and be respectful. Also, it is a good idea to know basic words and means of communication of the language in which the company primarily uses.
4. Make sure you research what the company requires you to bring to the audition and bring exactly what they ask. The best portfolios I receive are the ones that have a resume including name, contact information, height, weight and nationality or visa status, a headshot and full body dance shot. The headshot can be added to the resume either on the back or a small photo in one of the upper corners. But a headshot is valuable when trying to place a name to a face. Even if you are an American citizen auditioning for an American company, add to your resume: Nationality: American Citizen. Companies get hundreds of audition inquiries each year from around the world. You want to make sure you leave nothing to question for the people evaluating you. If you do, you might find your information in the trash because it lacks basic information and we do not have the time to contact you to find out any of the information I’ve listed previously. The following is a big one and very annoying when not adhered to: have all the information you are required to bring connected in some way. This can be as simple as a paper clip or staple, but do not hand the person running the audition a stack of unattached materials. They will receive a ton of information during these auditions. Make yourself stand out by offering your audition materials neatly and all attached together.
5. If you are in an audition and they are not requiring you to stand in a specific place during center, do not stand in the back. Part of what I look for is initiative and confidence. You may not be able to be front and center for every combination (although you should make sure you are at least once), but you can make sure are not in the back for every combination.
6. Do not excessively contact the company after the audition to find out any results. Understand this: if the company is interested in you, they will contact you. They will not want to lose contact with you if they want you for the company. Sometimes, you don’t hear anything because you are actually still in the running for a position but the company just needs to complete all of their scheduled auditions or get contracts returned from returning dancers. You do not want to eliminate your chances by annoying the organization with multiple attempts to find out results. The phrase “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” exists for a reason.