The time is NOW! Preparing your audition season can seem overwhelming but after many, many years of practice, trial and error, here are alllllllll the info I've gathered throughout my career. You need a strategy, a detailed plan and a logic to it all. It seems like a monstrous task but once you've organized yourself, you only need to wear your best leo, put on a little lipstick and let yourself shine! Hopefully the 2021 auditions will be held other than video like Compania Nacional de Danza in Madrid managed to do recently.
So, we will go through the different scenarios, starting from the pre-audition package, the organization of it all, the class and post-class etiquette.
1/ The tedious paperwork required:
- A good, clear resume including: detailed personal info (height, age, address etc...), where you are now (latest company, professional program or school) with the important roles you have danced with choreographers, your training with names of main teachers, other diplomas or awards, and if you are a teacher or ballet master as well, add your experience.
I usually put my portrait photo on the top corner of the CV page as it is easier for the jury to remember who you are during the class.
- Pretty and simple pictures that show off your lines (I personally don't think a full headshot is necessary as I put mine on the resume):
- A video reel is essential nowadays. You can use Vimeo or YouTube and attach the link in your email. Try to show your range with diverse repertoire, and mix it up with on stage and studio footage. I would say about 10-12mins max since directors don't have much time on their hands.
- Lastly prepare an email to send to the company contact and I also used to add a short letter to the director to make it less "corporate" and a little more personal.
2/ The golden list
My boyfriend will tell you I am the list Queen... But honestly, it's essential when you need your thoughts into place. Do an active search of all the companies you might like (and don't be shy and aim high too because the universe is full of surprises and YOU JUST NEVER KNOW ♥️). Write the contact email info for auditions, the date of the end of registration (very important), name of director or ballet master for your email (as you will send a lot, please verify a million times you didn't just copy and paste from the previous email and didn't change the name!!! yes, I did it... there's no unsend button on that one!!!😱). I would also ask in your message if they would allow you to take company class as it seems to be the best option to be really seen and not lost in the middle of a sea of numbered dancers. So, now send away and get your plane tickets!
3/ Class etiquette
-Company class: Be discreet and respectful when warming up. Company dancers have their routine and their specific place at the barre and in center. You need to nicely ask a dancer to show you where you can stand.
Present yourself to the teacher and at the end go thank the director and teacher. Though the director will probably talk to you anyway after class is over. To comfort you, remind yourself that you are also auditioning THEM! Do you like the city, the facilities, the class, the dancers, the vibes you get from the artistic staff. Maybe you can ask to watch a rehearsal to check out the repertoire and how they work to see if it would also suit you!
- Cattle Call: Arrive earlier and judge which number you want before registration. You can chose to end up in the early groups or you can wait a bit and be in the middle groups (to me it's better). Make sure you have the cash required if there's a fee. If there are cuts during class, try to know that prior so you're not surprised...
- For both: wear your favorite leotard so you feel comfortable and pretty. Wear light make up, some small jewelry, clean hair and choose the right pointe shoes (bring a little rosin in case...). Skirts are pretty but directors might ask you to take it off.
Warm ups ONLY for the first couple exercises, if you're already a professional maybe a little later. Don't forget your water bottle!!
Now, open your eyes and ears. Use both senses to remember combinations and directions from the teacher (how many per groups, numbers' order women only, men only etc...).
Ok here it comes... center Adagio, or Pirouettes. PANIC mode engaged. Breath, feel your legs and feet like a cat, feeling the floor to calm the shaky leg syndrome, I know that one oh to well... For pirouettes, go for clean. A clean double with a nice finish is the only thing you need. From the warm up onto class, whenever you catch yourself comparing your skills to others, distract yourself from it. Start marking the exercise thinking of how you can make it better and stay in your bubble. Don't look at number 27's extension or 56's 4 pirouettes and start going down that dark spiral. If turns are not forte then you'll shine extra bright in jumps, or vice versa.
If the directors tell you they will let you know in X amount of time and they haven't done so, don't hesitate to send a check-in email to see what is happening. Until you hear or see the NO written, it's still game on! And no, a no is not the end...
In conclusion, auditions are a hard psychological moment to got through but unfortunately, it's showbiz baby! I've traveled as far as Santiago, Chile to audition... Wherever they say, please come and take class, you just GO!!! And in the end, after it all, I now dance in Nice, France... It was the right time at the right place, and it was the only company I actually didn't know ANYONE! Just to prove that sometimes, those lucky ballerina stars strike whenever you least expect it! ✨
A lucky little Chilean Chanchito souvenir. He stays with me wherever I go. 🐷🍀