Friday, October 28, 2011

You Can't Stop the Beat!

The Professional Semester at Broadway Dance Center is an incredible, life-changing program, and mock auditions are just a small portion of the amazing learning opportunities that we get to take part in. Today we had our very first mock audition and it was theatre. The panel included our program director, student advisor, choreographer, and an agent from Clear Talent agency! I want to share everything that I learned because this first audition was like a class and we received so many great tips that will get any dancer very far in the industry. We went through what to do and what not to do every step of the way, but once we get to our final mock audition right before Thanksgiving, it will be more like a real audition without any guidance.

Everything starts with what you are wearing. That is the first impression you make and it has to be an excellent one. You may not realize it, but something that I have found out recently is a huge amount of auditions are based on looks. If your outfit doesn't quite fit the dance style or time period of the show, the panel is going to know you didn't do your research and they might not take you as seriously. There are also things that you can not change, such as ethnicity, gender, and body type. Most agents or directors are looking for something very specific depending on the show. An example of this: After the mock audition, a friend and I went downtown to a real audition for dancers in the Victoria's Secret fashion show. There is a height requirement (which I don't quite make, but I decided to go anyway. Why not?!), and the first part of the audition is about seeing whether you have the right look or not. So basically, if your type is not what they are looking for, you may not even get a chance to dance, so it doesn't matter how good your technique is in this situation.

Since we were auditioning for "Hairspray" in our mock audition and that show took place in the early 60s, we had to dress the part and also stand out while doing it. This means a lot of color, flouncy skirts, and bows. The key is to pick one bold accessory or color that will be different from what everyone else is wearing. We were told that at most auditions if the judges are really interested in a dancer, they will identify her by her accessory or the color she was wearing such as, "I really liked 'red bow girl'. We should keep her for the next round." We stood in a straight line and "slated", then the judges gave feedback for each person, so this took up at least a quarter of the 2 hour audition. For those of you who don't know what slating is, it is when you say your name, where you're from, and an interesting fact about yourself, or something along those lines. So, slating is another chance to make a good first impression and in order to do that, you have to have an overwhelming sense of confidence and presence. Some tips:
  • Don't start speaking until you have finished stepping forward. Otherwise, it looks like you're nervous and rushing.
  • Speak loudly and clearly. Also, it may feel weird to you, but make sure you speak slowly. Once again, if you rush it sounds like you are self conscious and you just want to get it over with.
  • Pick an interesting fact that either has something to do with the show you're auditioning for or it is a special skill that would be to your benefit. Another thing that will give you a one-up is if you make it funny. It just makes you stand out that much more. Mine was, "I am going to open my own bakery someday." The criticism I got was it doesn't have anything to do with the show, and it makes it sound like I am going to pick that over dancing, so I'm not that serious about it. That is not the case at all, but that's just how it comes across. A good one would be something like, "I'm a dare devil and I love to go skydiving!" This shows that you would be totally willing to do crazy stunts.
 Something that is very important no matter what you're auditioning for is never mark the choreography! This goes for class too, but in auditions it is especially important. They start judging you the second you walk in the door, so you better believe they're going to judge the way you learn choreography. Doing everything full out shows that you're happy to be there and ready to work. Plus, it will help you learn the steps more quickly because you get it in your body. You want to pick up the steps as quickly as possibly because auditions go by in a flash once you actually get in the room. We only got about 5 minutes to learn the choreography and it was a very fast-paced and energetic dance. You never want to mark anything off to the side while other groups are dancing, but always be going through the sequence in your head. I can not stress enough the importance of always being focused and present any time you dance. And when you're auditioning, that energy has to multiplied by a hundred. Everything has to be engaged the whole entire time; your mind, your face, your whole body, and posture.

Performing the dance required an intense amount of energy, not only because the combination was like a cardio workout, but because the performance was so exaggerated. You have to be over-the-top to get your character across, so facial expressions have to be large and so does your movement. And you can't just stick with one face. You have to change it up for every single move to make it interesting. This should not be choreographed because then it will look fake, but you want to let the music and your emotions take over you so that it happens naturally. A great way to improve your performance is to practice using your face while you learn the choreography. Once you reach a more advanced level, you're not only thinking about learning the steps, but you're also learning the meaning and emotion behind it. It will be so much easier if you think about this right from the start rather than trying to add facial expressions for the first time when you perform it in front of the judges.

In order to succeed you have to look the part, dress the part, dance the part, and be the part. Everything that you have needs to go into being that character. Otherwise, the director will not be able to picture you in that role. They don't necessarily want dancers who execute the combination perfectly. They are looking for dancers who can perform the combination as a completely different person and make it believable. For contemporary or hip hop styles you may not be a particular character in a show, but you have to create a persona that matches what the choreographer is looking for. No matter what style of dance you're doing or what you're auditioning for, the way you interpret the movement and how you portray it through your performance is key.

No comments: