I ventured out to the city to visit their studio for the first time. This was also my first time auditioning for anything that is not affiliated with my school or dance studio; this is a professional company! I'll be honest, I was a little stunned by it all, but it was such an interesting and educational day for me. We walk into the small and extremely crowded lobby of the building where dancers and parents are covering every square inch of the floor space. Everyone is trying to fill out their paper work and grab their audition numbers without bumping into someone else. Once this task was accomplished, the dancers were sent into a, once again, small and crowded studio on the ground floor to warm up. I was auditioning for the apprentice company/training program (there are three companies associated with Philadanco), and as I scanned the room full of dancers trying out for the same position, I felt a little intimidated at first. I sat down in my five foot wide area of space and began to stretch as I continued to check out the competition. It felt like an enternity before the artistic director came in to bring us upstairs a couple minutes after noon.
This was it. My first big audition! As we were introduced to all the people in the room, including the judges, I could feel my excitement and anticipation building. Then, we were introduced to our teacher for the class, Milton Myers. This is when I realized how important this was. Milton Myers is the residential choreographer at Philadanco and he is one of the best, most saught after Horton modern teachers in the country. You can read more about him here. We took a basic Horton modern class since that is one of the main styles that Philadanco performs. Horton is a technique that requires great strength, stamina, and power. Luckily, I knew what I was doing because I had the honor of taking Horton classes with Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell at Towson. Miss Linda was a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey company and her classes made us both sweat profusely and feel extremely sore the next day.
Once the hour and a half technique class was over, the director of D2 (the apprentice company I auditioned for) called out the numbers of the dancers who would follow him upstairs to his office to discuss being a part of the company. The very first number he called was 9. The very first thought to go through my head: "Oh my God. That's MY number!" I was beyond excited. Me and about nine other dancers followed him upstairs and anxiously awaited what we had all been hoping for. He wanted us to be a part of the company :) He got down to business right away. We talked about who lived in Philly and who didn't, whether we had planned living accommodations for our time in the city, what our plans for the summer were, etc. To be in the company, you are required to attend the six week summer intensive that begins on July 5th. This consists of classes for an hour and a half each day, Monday-Friday. Unfortunately, since I don't have a place to live and I have multiple obligations over that six week time period, I told the director that I wouldn't be able to join this fall and the audition was for my own experience.
Truthfully, I was just as ecstatic as if I had actually joined the company. Let me tell you why. This audition proved to me that I can do it. Not only did they want me to be in their company, but my number was called first! I think that's a good sign. This was a huge confidence boost for me; I got such a rush from being in a new place where I didn't know anyone, and then also from being successful in my pursuits. This was a life-changing learning experience for me as well. It was like audition practice and I learned a lot from being in that situation and watching other people. So, I wanted to share some of my valuable lessons.
- You can never be too prepared. You should have a fully stocked dance bag at all times, especially for an audition. I didn't think to bring extra hair supplies with me since my hair was in a pony tail. When I got there, most of the girls were wearing buns and it definitely looks more professional for a ballet or modern audition. Also, bring all of your dance shoes and even multiple outfits. You could show up at a try out wearing something that is not appropriate for the style of dance you are doing, or you could be dancing multiple genres unexpectedly. YOU NEVER KNOW.
- Warm up like it's your job. Technically, if you're a dancer, that is part of your job. By that I mean, don't worry about the amount of space you have or what anyone else thinks. Only you know how to prepare your body properly and you should be completely in the zone. Your body plays the most important part in the auditioning process, but your mind has a role in it too. I was so focused on not getting in anyone's way since the studio was small, and I feel like I could've warmed up a lot better. I think bringing your ipod is essential if that helps you focus, and pretend like you are teaching a warm up class so you get your blood flowing as well as stretch.
- Be aggressive. Be, be aggressive. Sorry; cheesy cheerleader moment. Anyways, don't be scared to stand up front! When you act confident, you feel confident, and it truly shows when the judges look at you. 100% of the time when people are looking for dancers, they want someone with a strong presence who captures them with their dancing. You can make your presence known by standing up front. I struggle with this sometimes because I'm naturally reserved. But the only thing I can tell myself and give as advice to others is to let go of that fear that comes from not knowing what other people are going to say or think about you. It's called competition for a reason, and those other people will be more than happy to take your spot in the front. You can not control anyone's actions but your own, so don't waste your energy worrying about their opinions when you could be using it to wow the judges. Take charge of your destiny.