How to Prepare for Ballet Auditions

Although Nutcracker performances aren’t even underway for another couple of weeks, ballet students all over the world are already thinking about what they will be doing in June. It’s that time of the year when families are laying out their calendars to see what dates they have free from January to March while crossing their fingers that there are summer program auditions happening on those days. This can be a stressful time for students and parents alike, so we have put together a list of some tips for how to prepare for ballet auditions; keep these in mind as you wrap your head around the upcoming audition season.


How to Prepare for Ballet Auditions


1. Research Ballet Schools

Unlike those of us who were studying ballet during the 80s and 90s and had to wait for the latest edition of Dance Magazine to hit the newsstands, dancers in the 21st century have the internet at their fingertips. Doing your research as to which ballet schools you would like to attend over the summer is a good start to planning in order to keep the audition process as efficient (both in time and finances) as possible. Especially for those that do not live near studios that host auditions, the expense of traveling to the sites can really add up.

 

During this step, you will learn which schools teach the style you are aiming to develop, which teachers are on faculty, and what locations the programs will be held at. Although not exhaustive, here is a list of the 2020 Ballet Summer Intensives that can help you get started in researching ballet schools so that you can narrow them down to those that you may be interested in attending.


2. Talk with Your Ballet Teacher

The professional who knows you best as a dancer is your current ballet teacher. After you have a list jotted down, ask your teacher if he or she has some time to go over it with you; in fact, getting a couple of opinions could be most helpful as perhaps you have one teacher for technique class and another for pointe or variations – they will be able to provide different perspectives. Your teachers can help guide you either by simply looking at your list and basing advice on his or her personal experience or resources, or they may want to have a deeper conversation with you. Some questions you may want to consider before having your talk are:

  • How many hours do I want to dance per week?
  • For how many weeks am I looking to study over the summer?
  • What curriculum (if any) is taught at the schools on my list?
  • What are my main goals during my summer studies?
  • How can my summer studies be a stepping stone to my long-term objectives?


3. Create Your List of Ballet Programs

Now that you have your ideas and your teachers’ advice, take a moment to create your semi-final list of programs you would like to attend using this handy audition worksheet and review the details with your family to be sure that they are feasible and reasonable. This step will tie closely to the next one which is making your final list as there are often many factors involved in this decision that go beyond what you simply want.


4. Review Audition Requirements

With your final list handy, carefully review the audition requirements for each school paying attention to the details relevant to in-person versus video auditions; these may include the following:
  • Audition Location: This may or may not be the same location where the actually summer program is held.
  • Registration: Some schools have pre-audition day registration processes.
  • Photos: Note which position(s) they are they asking for and what kind of shoes they would like to see you in.*
  • Video: Note what particular exercises or variations they would like to see.*
  • Fees: Put aside money to pay for any fees associated with the audition.
  • Attire: Be sure that you are prepared with the requested attire.
*Check the deadline for submitting photos and videos as these may or may not be the same day as the in-person audition! If you are needing assistance, communicate with your teachers and photographers as soon as you can.


5. Prepare Yourself Physically and Mentally

Auditions can be stressful moments in your career as a student and professional, but there are certain things you can do to help prepare yourself. Remember that being a ballet dancer not only requires aptitude in the physical skills associated with class and performance but also the mental strength to manage the various experiences that you will go through.

  • Take class regularly to build muscle memory and to learn and experiment with how you can work through any challenges that you face. Steady practice and direction by your teacher will help you know where you may need to focus most.
  • Be sure to stay healthy by minding your eating habits (food = energy!), staying hydrated (water is your friend!), and getting enough sleep (your body and brain both need it!)
  • Do your best not to psyche yourself out. A bit of nervous energy can be a good thing to get your adrenaline flowing, but try to stay focused on yourself and not let outside factors influence you negatively.


6. Enjoy the Ballet Audition!

As you are already aware, dancing is a performing art by which we can express ourselves and an audition is the perfect chance for your to further develop that skill. Despite the self-inflicted pressure you may feel to be accepted to the summer programs of your choice, it is important to maintain that feeling of joy you have while dancing and to let the audition teacher (and perhaps judges) see it shine through. No matter what, the audition is your personal experience and you have a choice to make the best of it and learn as much as you can. So do your hair neatly, dress cleanly, stand up proudly, and be the beautiful dancer that you are.
how to prepare for ballet auditions
Cherilyn J. Lee is the Editor-in-Chief of The Traveling Ballerina.
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