Preparing Your SI Audition Season

You have reviewed the summer intensive audition tours for this season and know what schools are visiting your area… You have been taking classes for a few years at least and are excited to see what the student audition circuit will be like… Visions of acceptance letters are dancing in your head! But wait – how do you get from sitting in front of your computer to opening one of those promising envelopes?

Preparing an optimal audition season for yourself takes thoughtfulness and preparation. You are going to have to be very proactive and responsible. There are a lot of to-dos, but it’s all very straightforward. And wouldn’t you know, I’ve got it all laid out for you in a nice checklist!

_____ 1. Get organized! Open a Word document and start a numbered list of the auditions you want to attend. Include all of the auditions that you are interested in, even if you’re not sure you can make it. Note the date, time and location (studio and city) for each one.

_____ 2. Rearrange your list by date, placing the earliest audition at the top. Look for conflicts. Inevitably, two good schools will overlap on one date, and you will have to choose between the two. If this happens, take a good look at the schools and talk to your teachers to decide which one you prefer.

_____ 3. Go down your list and ask yourself – What auditions are coming within easy traveling distance of your hometown? Which ones would require significant travel? Are those auditions worth a road trip? Can you get together a group of other dancers for a carpool to some of the auditions that are farther away? Make notes about this for each audition.

_____ 4. Share the list with your parents. Talk to them about your desired audition schedule and which auditions they will drive you to or that you will be allowed to drive to. Mark all of those auditions on your calendar and on your family calendar.

_____ 5. For those auditions that your parents either cannot drive you to (or that you are not allowed to drive to), ask if you would be permitted to go with a friend or with another dance parent. Contact dance friends that might be interested in carpooling and see if they (or their parents) can take you together or with a group, and then put these auditions on your calendar and your family calendar. (If you are unable to get to an audition that you really wanted to attend, don’t worry – a DVD audition is a good alternative. I’ll talk about those in a later post.)

_____ 6. You should now have your final schedule! It’s time to preregister. Quite a few schools have made preregistration available on their websites. Carefully check each school’s site to see if this option is available. Some schools have made online preregistration mandatory! It would be very embarrassing to get turned away for overlooking this step.

_____ 7. It’s time to get prepare your audition materials. Most schools have a page on their website describing the audition requirements in detail. Print out this out for each of your auditions.

_____ 8. Let’s talk about photos first. Each school has unique photo requests that are usually listed on their website, but you will be pretty much set for anything if you take the following shots in pink tights and a black leo (no skirt) with full stage hair and makeup and in pointe shoes (if you are that advanced): 1) a close-up headshot from the collarbone up, 2) full body first arabesque, 3) full body tendu a lá seconde with arms in second, 4) full body favorite pose. Professional photos are not necessary and are not the norm for students, but a teacher may be able to better than a parent for taking photos that show you to your best advantage. A size of 5×7″ is usually preferred. Write your full name and age on the back of each print.

_____ 9. Next is money, honey. SI auditions usually cost between $30 and $35 payable in cash, check or money order. You will have to check the audition information for each SI to find out which payment methods are preferred for each. Be up front with your parents from the get-go about this if you are relying on them to cough up these fees. If they cannot or will not subsidize your auditions (or any other aspect of your training for that matter), you are going to have to decide how important this is to you and, if it is truly important, how you can earn the money you need perhaps by becoming an assistant teacher or offering to clean the studio for your directors.

____ 10. Finally, there’s always random stuff that schools will want. (For example, SAB requires proof of birth at the audition.) You need to carefully read the websites and maybe even make a few phone calls to make sure you collect what you need to have.

You’ll notice that as a student, résumés, professional photos and recommendation letters are not a part of most auditions. Not only that, such materials will often be turned away by schools that do not specifically ask for them.

Now that you have your materials, go back to your list and create an audition packet for each school. Pay special attention to photo size and type specifications, payment preferences and preregistration. If you have read each school’s website carefully, you will be a-okay.

You have now prepared an excellent SI audition season for yourself – Well done! In my next post, I’ll let you know what to do on the day of an audition – and what to expect.

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