How to do well in a ballet audition

How to do well in a ballet audition

Today’s post is by Alexandra Cownie the author of “How To Be A Ballet Dancer”. She dedicates her life to educating dancers on how to have a healthy life and to be confident and less stressed while becoming professionals.

Auditions are a very important and often highly stressful part of a dancer’s life. More than a job interview, at an audition dancers need to show versatility, technical skill and intelligence. They must appeal to a company director with subjective and unpredictable criteria relating to artistic style. So let’s look at what you can do to stand-out from the crowd!

1. Do not approach your audition like it’s a dance competition.

It’s vital to understand that in auditions, it’s not the “best” dancer (often confused with most technical dancer) that gets the job, but the one that fits the best the artistic criteria set by the company director and artistic board.
Approach your auditions with confidence in your own unique abilities and make an effort to be yourself while dancing – your best skills will naturally shine through and give you the job in the right company!

2. Research the company/dance group you are auditioning for.

Most dancers need to audition to a certain number of companies before they get a job. The danger is that it can quickly become “I’ll take whatever I can” instead of “I’ll audition in the companies that are right for me”. The problem with that is that you will have no idea (or too little) what the artistic style the company is endorsing, what choreographers work for the company and what the daily training is like. There are huge differences between companies and it’s extremely important that you know who you are auditioning for in order to give yourself the best chances of fitting in! A great thing to do is go to see them on stage.

3. Visualise yourself as a member of the company the night before.

The night prior the audition, you should already know the style of the company and their daily routine and approach to dance. Take 20 minutes to close your eyes in an active meditation and visualise yourself as a full-time member of their company. Be one of them, take class with them, rehearse with them, interact with them in the change rooms, be on stage with them. You will find that you will feel more at ease and peaceful the next day. Remember a company director will look for someone already at ease with the company’s style.

4. Do not try to change your body 2 days before the audition!

This is another very common mistake dancers make: A few days before the audition, they decide that they want to look perfect and therefore start a new diet, over- exercise to get new shapes and muscles on their body, etc. As a result, by the time of the audition they are often exhausted, sore and lacking energy. Doing the opposite is the way to go: Sleep well, eat very well (get enough proteins, good fats and lots of veggies – reduce sugar as much as possible) and train normally – no more or less. It’s important that you understand that nothing that you will do to change a few days before an audition will actually make a difference on your looks! I see it more as self-sabotage!! Be smart about it!

5. Eat well and test what foods give you the most lasting energy in your regular classes.

A great way to prepare for an audition is to test before a class what foods give you the most lasting energy without feeling heavy. This will be different for everyone, so make sure you test this well in advance! The things you need to assess are:
– How long before the start of the class should I eat? (1h, 30min… ?)
– What foods work makes me feel light?
– What foods give me the longest lasting energy (the last thing you want is a drop of energy if you get qualified for the choreography part of the audition!)
– What snacks work best for me during breaks?
– How much water do I need to drink at any given point to feel on top of my game? (small sips taken more often usually work best and keep your body hydrated without feeling full)

6. Remember: You are ALL in the same boat!

It is easy to be impressed by all the other dancers around you in an audition, especially in the 30 minutes leading to the first class. You will see people more flexible than you, more technical than you, appearing very confident, some with better bodies, some with better outfits… And you will start talking yourself down. What you really need to keep in mind is that everyone here is stressed, worried, anxious, wanting to get the job and thinking the same things about YOU! By realising this and stop worrying about what they have to offer rather than focusing on your own unique attributes, you will be miles ahead of your competition!

7. Use meditation as stress-relief before your audition.

Stress is one of the top issues dancers face in audition. This is why I have prepared an audio meditation to take care of that for you! The best way to use it is the night before as well as 30 min to an hour before the start of the audition. It has already done wonders down-under for many Australian dancers and I am sure you will love it too! You can find more about it in my book: How To Be A Ballet Dancer.

At the end of the day, your performance and preparation are only half of the decision for you to join or not a specific company. If you can leave an audition feeling empowered, having learning new things and feeling more confident about your ability as a dancer (without relying on the results of the audition) then you will be a winner no matter what!

Videos are a great alternative when auditioning in person isn’t possible. Here are some general guidelines for making a good impression.

1. Follow directions.

Before filming, research what each school you’re interested in requires. “It demonstrates your ability to follow instructions, and schools pay attention to that,” says Kate Lydon, artistic director of American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensives and the ABT Studio Company. “If the guidelines haven’t been followed, your video might not be watched the whole way through.” You may need to make multiple versions to accommodate different schools.

2. Videos should be no longer than 10 minutes.

“Keep it short, simple and direct,” advises Philip Neal, dance department chair at The Patel Conservatory and artistic director of Next Generation Ballet. “You have to be sensitive to how much time the director has to sit down and look at it.” Barre can be abbreviated, showing only one side per exercise, alternating. Directors will be looking at fundamentals—placement, turnout, leg lines, stability—but don’t ignore musicality or movement quality. Make sure music choices match combinations and are correctly synced in the footage.

3. Exercises should be appropriate to your level.

“It’s hard to see the dancer’s potential if the combinations are too difficult,” says Lydon. Have a teacher present while shooting to help design exercises and provide feedback.

4. You should be the only dancer in view, and clearly visible.

For barre, shoot at an angle instead of straight on—it may be less flattering, but it allows the faculty to see details like whether you’re fully closing in fifth, or if your hip is hiked in développé à la seconde.

5. It doesn’t matter if your video is shot on an iPhone or by a professional videographer,

says Lydon, “as long as it’s well lit, clear and the dancer stays in frame.” Have a friend, or better yet a teacher, film for you, and avoid shooting through the mirror.

6. Pay attention to your outfit and grooming

“Cleanliness and professional appearance goes a long way,” says Neal, “because it shows discipline and how you’ll behave when you show up.” Opt for a simple leotard and pink tights for girls, or a well-fitted T-shirt and black tights for boys. Keep your hair and makeup clean and understated, and resist the urge to wear warm-ups. “The video you’re sending is in lieu of you going to an audition,” says Lydon, “so prepare accordingly: Follow instructions, look your best and show your best self.”

One . Be rested so that you can be your best.

Two . Make nutritious meal choices, starting now. Eat a light meal at least an hour before the audition.

Three . Arrive with plenty of time to warm up your body in advance. (Some auditions, particularly for children, may be structured to provide a warm-up. Find out ahead of time. You’ll still want to arrive with time to spare to get familiar with the environment.)

Four . Dress appropriately and neatly in something that flatters you and be ready to shed layers so that the panel can see your body. Unless it is required that you dress a certain way, it is alright to choose a look that shows your personality or helps you stand out. However, use good judgment. Your look should not overshadow your dancing, after all it is your dancing you want to be remembered for.

Five . Be gracious from start to finish (even if the outcome is not what you had hoped). Treat your fellow dancers and audition panel with the utmost respect. Courteously ask questions and take corrections from the choreographer.

Six . Learn what you can about the school, company, team, ballet, or performance for which you are auditioning.

Seven . Know exactly what you will be expected to bring, complete, or have with you at the audition. Be prepared even with items you MIGHT need, like extra hair bands, knee pads, dance shoes, etc.

Eight . Perform it, “sell it.” Even in an audition class, really DANCE IT with expression, enthusiasm, and energy.

Nine . Stand where you can see and be seen without muscling your way to the front. If you are struggling or don’t know the choreography, stand further back until you do so that you can wow them once you’ve got it.

Ten . Don’t embellish the choreography unless you are asked to. If you ARE given this freedom, click here for some tips for making choreography your own.

Next Steps

One . It is okay to be human. To “never” show a mistake seems unnatural, but don’t make a spectacle of your mistakes with a tantrum or grotesque faces or by stopping. If you have covered or recovered your mistake well, forget it and keep going. If not, it is natural, while you are learning or after you have performed choreography, to acknowledge mistakes with a smile, a chuckle, or apology (if your mistake impacted others) and then move on. A light, positive, even joking manner can show that you will be fun to work with.

Two . Have no expectations. Expecting a certain outcome puts your mind in a place and time other than the audition and you’ll need to have your head in the present tense to do well. Clear your mind and dance because you love dancing, not because of the pot of gold that may or may not be at the end of this rainbow.

Three . You have nothing to lose. This is related to #2. If you are worried about what is at stake, then you have expectations that this role, this job, or this opportunity is already yours. You cannot lose what you don’t have. Knowing this, you can relax and enjoy the moment to shine, to dance, and grow with experience.

Four . Say “thank you” after the audition (with a written note or in person if possible) and say “thank you” whether you are selected or dismissed.

Five . Remember that no matter how intimidated you may be by the panel, they want you to do well. They want to have the best dancers to select from and are hoping that everyone walking into that audition is the best they’ve ever seen.

Six . Auditioning is a skill. Audition often and know that you can improve your skills. In fact, you may learn the most from your worst audition. You will likely go through many poor auditions before you are cast, and you will quickly learn that sometimes even great auditions don’t get you the job. Don’t lose faith in yourself.

Remember! You can only be you, so much of the best audition preparation is the everyday work you go through to be the best dancer you can be. Be yourself and enjoy the process!

More Audition Resources

A great article from Charlotte Examiner, Cynthia Beers on How To Audition For A Dance Program

Check out The Ballet Audition Preparation Guide. I don’t have first-hand experience, nor am I affiliated with this guide but here’s what Ginny, a dance mom, had to say about it: “It has a lot about goal setting, keeping a journal of your progress (not just in preparation for auditions, but all year long), along with practical advice about preparing for an audition, what to wear, eat, etc. If a student really took the time to read it and put into practice the advice given, I think it would be helpful.”

Look into this Kindle Edition resource: The Ultimate Guide to Dance/Drill Team Tryout Secrets, 3rd Edition. I’ve actually read a hard copy of this and it is solid information for youth or teens hoping to make the team from a successful and experienced dance and drill team performer.

Get a copy of A Dancer’s Manual: A Motivational Guide to Professional Dancing. I own this one and this 1999 guide is not a large book but it provides a mixture of motivational and practical advice if you are starting out in this tough career. The audition section offers perspective on nerves and attitude, as well as useful information on head shots and your resumé. Other areas covered include contracts, pay, injuries, and dancer fitness.

Advice that you can trust on ballet technique, injury prevention, ballet strength, audition advice, and more!

As ballet audition season quickly approaches it is time to get new audition photos and headshots. Audition photos can make or break your audition success, especially if you are unable to attend a national audition tour. So how do you ensure that your audition photos are up to par? Here are a few tips from the pros.

Tip #1 Hair up or hair down? This is a common question that comes up for dancers. While a common bun is always a good choice, sometimes it is nice for school or company directors to see what you look like with your hair down. Neither hair up or hair down is right or wrong. You should choose to have your headshot photo taken the way that you think looks best and presents YOU in the best way! Just no crazy hairstyles, okay?

You don’t want to look too different in your audition photo from how you will look in the audition. You want the director to remember you. Below are two examples of hairstyles for headshots.

How to do well in a ballet audition

The classic bun is always a great choice.

Tip #2 To smile or not to smile? Again, you want your headshot to present you in the best way possible. I am a huge fan of smiling in photos because it shows your personality in a positive light. Lots of professional dancer that I know took serious headshots. Make sure to bring a parent or friend with you when you are getting your photos taken. They can give you feedback on the spot and constructive criticism during your photo shoot.

How to do well in a ballet audition

Hair down is a nice contrast.

Tip #3 To get pro photos or not? With professional photography equipment being affordable these days, some dancers and their parents choose to take their headshots themselves. This cuts down on photographer costs big time and allows for unlimited time and shots. Be careful when doing at home headshots or audition shots. Prepare a background and make sure the lighting is adequate to prevent shadows.

Tip #4 Don’t look messy. This definitely isn’t time for a sweaty studio shot. Present yourself for your auditions photos just like you would for your audition. Keep hair sleek and makeup minimal. Put your best face forward. Remember in a Kodak moment you want to shine!

How to do well in a ballet audition

Auditions. They’re like swallowing your vitamins. All they take is a little practice and some mental reassurance, and then you can come out stronger and, in this case, maybe with a job. Dance Informa spoke with leading working dancers and choreographers across the US to get their tips and audition do’s and don’ts.

Where to Look
Nowadays, audition listings, like most other information, can be found over the Internet. Dance Informa provides nationwide audition listings (click here to view the current listings) and even craigslist and facebook have news on upcoming auditions and gigs. There’s also good old paper: most dance studios have a bulletin board with audition listings and job offerings. For some dancers, word of mouth and/or recommendations are also good audition hunting tools. And for those interested in company work, attending workshops or classes by prospective companies can be valuable. They often have company mailing lists, which inform recipients of upcoming auditions.

Audition Prep for the Mind and Body
It’s important to get enough sleep prior to an audition in order to stock up on ample energy and concentration levels. If nerves or other factors prevent you from getting the zzz’s, then help yourself with an energy drink, suggests choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. You need to be “on top of your game because you have to show in no time what you’ve got,” she says.

Nothing is worse than feeling unprepared. “If you can, research the project or company choreography,” says Clymene Baugher, a company member of Elisa Monte Dance in New York City. “Wake up early and give yourself time to orientate yourself to the day, not only preparing your body physically but also giving yourself time to mentally prepare.”

Mentally, it’s crucial that as an auditioning dancer you exude confidence. “Believe you are worth watching and that you have something to offer the company,” Lopez Ochoa says.

“Think of auditions as dress rehearsals, the more relaxed you are the better,” Baugher adds.

Christine Cox rehearsing with members of Ballet X

Show it Off!
Wear dancewear in which you feel good, something clean and neat and in a bright color. Unless it fits with the style, Lopez Ochoa says to avoid baggy clothes, “too sexy” looks and leg warmers. “A dancer should reveal his/her body because if you hide it in baggy clothes, the choreographer tends to be suspicious,” she says. “It’s all about honesty.”

Courtesy Goes a Long Way
During an audition, you’re being tested on more than just dance skills. How do you behave toward the director or choreographer and your fellow auditionees? “Being courteous to other dancers and the casting people is incredibly important,” says Drumlin Brooke, currently a trainee with First State Ballet Theatre in Delaware. “A lot of directors are looking for people who will mesh well with their company.”

How you behave in an audition also gives directors an idea of how you would work in the studio. “Listen very well to what a director or choreographer is asking you to do,” Lopez Ochoa advises. “Usually he/she does not expect you to be perfect, but he/she is just testing if you listen well and react to what he/she is saying.

“Don’t constantly look at the director to check if he/she’s watching you,” she adds. “That can be utterly annoying.”

Stay in your Comfort Zone?
There’s debate about whether or not to audition for something out of a dancer’s skill level or comfort zone. Lopez Ochoa says to avoid such auditions. “You’d be wasting the time of the choreographer,” she says. “It’s already hard enough for a choreographer to perceive all the qualities of the dancers in such a short time and in such big crowds.”

On the other hand, Christine Cox, co-founder of Philadelphia’s Ballet X, says go for it. “I think it’s important to know how to audition, and the more experience you can gain from it the better,” she says. “Who knows, you may get the job. If it starts to make you feel depressed and insecure, then stick to what you know and keep your confidence building.”

Likewise, Brooke says, “If you go you might get the job. If you don’t audition you definitely won’t.”

The Must-Haves
Depending on the style of the company or specifics of the gig, choreographers and directors look for different qualities in dancers. Lopez Ochoa looks for generosity, a strong technique, versatility and, most of all, musicality when she’s auditioning a dancer.

For Cox, attributes like musicality, good work ethic and amazing technique make dancers stand out. “You can’t fake being a good dancer,” she says. “You either are or you aren’t.”

Bracing Rejection
“There’s no band-aid for rejection,” Lopez Ochoa says. “It’s always hard and disappointing when you’re not chosen.”

The key, then, is to trust that there’s a place out there that would be happy to have you as a dancer. “If a director does not hire you, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad dancer,” says Lopez Ochoa. “It usually means that you don’t fit the style of the company.”

Most importantly, when faced with rejection, don’t give up. “Being a dancer is one of the hardest professions, and rejection hurts,” Baugher says. “If you want it bad enough, then you have to push on and continue to attend auditions and put yourself out there.”

#1 Do’s and Don’ts
According to these working dancers and choreographers, here are their number one do’s and don’ts:

Lopez Ochoa’s #1 DO: “Show that you love dancing. You’re not at an audition to get a job, you’re there to show how much you love your art. It’s a slightly different state of mind that makes a huge difference in how and what you radiate.”

Lopez Ochoa’s #1 DON’T: “Don’t stand in front if you don’t know the combination.”

Brooke’s #1 DO: “Pay attention! Nobody wants confused dancers who aren’t listening.”

Brooke’s #1 DON’T: “Don’t be late. Being early is both respectful and smart, and you want to be able to take your time to prepare.”

Cox’s #1 DO: “Show who you are as an artist in the audition. Be expressive and daring.”

Cox’s #1 DON’T: “Don’t show attitude.”

Baugher’s #1 DO: “Enjoy! Being a dancer is not easy. Think of auditions as miniature journeys.”

Baugher’s #1 DON’T: “Do not beat yourself up. Not getting the job often means absolutely nothing about you as a dancer, but most especially does not reflect your worth as a person.”

Try to enjoy the audition experience and the journey, and work hard. Your persistence could someday soon pay off.

Top photo: Clymene Baugher, company member of Elisa Monte Dance. Photo by Cheryl Mann.

How to do well in a ballet audition

When your advanced dancers apply to a summer intensive, conservatory or dance company, they’re probably going to come to you for help crafting an audition video. An increasing number of dance schools and troupes ask for videos from applicants to help them quickly assess skills, technique and overall fit. However, the process of putting together a professional and impressive audition video can be challenging if you don’t have much experience with technology. Here are some dance audition tips that will help students and their teachers to create impressive audition videos:

Pick an Appropriate Piece

The first big decision that dancers need to make is what they should perform for the video audition. Some institutions may detail what they’d like to see in the video. But, other times the choice will be left to the performer.

Advise your dancer to choose a piece that is appropriate for the school or company. Meaning, don’t perform a jazz piece when applying to a ballet school. It should also be a piece that showcases the dancer’s individual strengths and is a good representation of skill level.

Some experts recommend that dancers include a variety of clips to show off their range of skills.

“I have found that showing a variety of styles and clips that include strong acting along with the dancing make for a more interesting product,” Barry Kerollis, a former dancer with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, explained to Dance Informa. “You need to have some flash, but then you need to have the depth in technique and character to back it up.”

If your dancers have well-shot clips from past performances, it may be worthwhile to make a video compilation. If you choose to go this route, make sure you have access to professional editing software to stitch the clips together.

Carefully Select Your Attire and Backdrop

Once you’ve helped your dancer decide on the best piece to perform, it’s time to iron out the logistics of filming. Dance Advantage recommended that dancers chose a clean space that has a lot of natural light. A studio with a wall of windows may be one good option. Alternatively, you can bring in lighting equipment to make sure the video adequately captures your movements.

There should also be some thought put into the performer’s outfit. Dance magazine suggested that dancers wear form-fitting attire with minimal frills. Hair should be pulled back and neat. Make sure that the dancer stands out against the background. If she’s dancing in a room with black walls, a black leotard will make her blend into the background.

Find a Videographer and a Consultant

The person who ultimately films the video should ideally have experience behind a camera. Most dancers don’t hire professional videographers, but it’s a good idea to ask a video-savvy friend to film the performance. This will ensure that the clip is focused and steady – both of which make a big difference when the director or choreographer reviews the video.

Dance Advantage also recommended that a teacher or studio owner be present while the video is filmed. Videographers don’t always understand which aspects of a performance are most important, and a dance professional can serve as a type of consultant, pointing out what angles and shots would be best.

Formatting the Video

When stitching together the final video, use these tips to ensure it captures the attention of the viewers:

If you made it through several cuts but didn’t land a contract, you’re probably wondering what went wrong. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask for feedback—if you go about it the right way. Here’s how company and casting directors want to hear from you so you’ll be remembered for your dancing (not for nagging).

DON’T Follow Up Prematurely

How to do well in a ballet audition

If you get cut in the first round, it’s not necessary to follow up. Photo by Jim Lafferty for Pointe.

If you didn’t make the first cut, don’t follow up. Andrea Zee, a casting director for Broadway musicals and tours, says she can’t be helpful unless you’ve made it through several cuts. “It’s just too hard with the number of people we’re seeing to comment on your performance in the initial round,” she says.

DO Reach Out the Right Way

How you get in touch depends on what’s most appropriate at that particular company, so do your homework. Some places, like Colorado Ballet, set up an online contact form, while others prefer you email the director or an administrator. At Martha Graham Dance Company, artistic director Janet Eilber says you may hear from her first. “We try to alert the final-round dancers to our recommendations—whether they need more training, if they should audition for Graham 2, and whether or not we see them ultimately joining the company—at the end of the audition, before they leave,” says Eilber.

DO Get Specific

How to do well in a ballet audition

Be specific in your follow-up email. Photo Courtesy Stock Snap.

If you’re following up by email, Colorado Ballet artistic director Gil Boggs suggests writing something like “I made it through the entire process, and my number was 12” before inquiring about feedback. Zee says it’s a joy to get a question that shows you’ve really thought about the role and expect to hear that there’s an area where you need to improve. “Ask about some aspect of your Fosse technique or how you can bring more humor to your movement. Not ‘What went wrong during the second combination?’ ” she says. When you do receive a response, investigate it further on your own. “If I say ‘It was your port de bras,’ don’t email back to ask ‘Well, was it my elbow?’ ” says Boggs.

DON’T Make Excuses
Following up isn’t a chance to explain why you didn’t perform your best. Eilber says she doesn’t need to hear that you were sick or injured or that you’ll be in better shape soon—it only tells her that you came to the audition when you weren’t ready.

DO Share What’s Next for You

How to do well in a ballet audition

Directors may be interested in what you’ve been up to since your audition. Photo by Jim Lafferty for Pointe.

“Update me on what you’re dancing this year,” says Boggs, “so I can think about the skills you’re likely working on and if that matches up with what the company has coming up.” You can also share the name of a coach or mentor. “That gives me the opportunity to touch base with someone who knows more about you than I can find out in an audition,” he says.

DO Know When to Take “No” for an Answer

“I make it a point to get back to each person if feedback is appropriate,” says Zee, “but sending an email every week crosses the line from proactive to worrisome.” You don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons, and casting directors keep careful files, warns Zee. But if you’ve kept in touch the right way, “I just might be able to call you back six months or a year later with a show you’d be perfect for.”

A queasy feeling settles into your stomach. You are surrounded by a group of gossiping men and women who sip cafe mochas while complimenting each other's headshots. Suddenly, the casting director calls your number. "What monologue will you be reading for us today?" she asks.

"Oh, sorry," you reply. "I didn't know I was supposed to bring one." Her annoyed expression tells you everything. You won't be getting a callback.

This scenario can be easily avoided by following these simple audition tips.

Read the Audition Notice Carefully

Actors should arrive at auditions fully prepared, not just ready to perform, but also to present any requested material. Examine the audition notice. Should you prepare one monologue? Two? Make certain you match the material to the play. For example, if you are auditioning for Oedipus Rex, prepare a scene from Greek drama, not The Odd Couple.

Finally, based on the audition notice, make certain you are trying out for an appropriate part. If the casting director is looking for a tall, bald man in his 60s, don’t show up hoping that they will change the script for your short, frizzy-haired, thirty-year-old self. Follow whatever guidelines are offered to ensure that you arrive at the audition as organized as possible.

Be Professional

Show the casting director how reliable you are by showing up at least fifteen minutes before the audition. Be courteous, but don’t be too talkative. Don’t pester crew members or fellow actors with idle conversation. Spend your time privately readying yourself.

Most casting directors expect you to bring a headshot and resume. This might not hold true for community theatre productions. However, if you are committed to a career in theater, you may want to bring these along just to make a favorable impression.

In general, think of an audition as a job interview. Avoid inappropriate behavior, whether its chewing gum, using profanity, behaving too shyly or brashly, or making long-winded speeches as to why you are perfect for the role.

Dress Appropriately

Usually, it is best to wear “business casual” attire. You want to exhibit charm and professionalism, but you don’t want to look like a stock-broker or a banker. Remember, many new actors make the mistake of wearing costumes to audition. Perhaps they say to themselves: “Hey, I’ve got a great pirate outfit from last Halloween! I’ll wear that!” Sadly, this is bound to cause casting directors to chuckle under their breath. They might be amused, but they will definitely not take the actor seriously.

If you are auditioning for a dancing part in a musical, wear dance attire. It should not be anything flashy or expensive. Any choreographer worth her salt will focus on your dancing ability, not your sequins.

Perfect Your Monologue

If you are asked to bring a monologue, make certain that you have rehearsed it completely. Do not just know the lines, know the character you are becoming. Let the directors see a striking difference between the person that just said hello to them and the character that is now coming to life on the stage.

At the same time, be flexible with the audition material. They might have you read the lines over, asking you to take on a different personality. Sure, you may do great when you perform the monologue with tears in your eyes, but be prepared if they ask you to do the same lines in a calm, icy voice or a whimsical British dialect. If given the chance, show them that you can interpret the role in many different ways.

Get to Know the Play

Many auditions involve reading “sides.” Sides are small, hand-picked portions of a script. Sometimes they are a brief monologue. Sometimes they are short scenes involving two or more characters. Most of the time, you won’t know exactly what scene you’ll be reading. In that case, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the play in general.

If you are auditioning for a popular play feel free to buy a copy of the script online or at your local bookstore. Better yet, visit your local library. Watching a film version of the play might help as well. Don’t simply mimic the movie actor’s performance, though; casting directors want to see what you can create, not what you can imitate.

Practice Cold Reading

If the play is rather obscure or brand new, it may be difficult to purchase a copy. In that case, you’ll want to polish up your cold reading skills. Cold reading is the act of performing lines as you read them for the very first time. It can be a nerve-wracking experience, but with practice, most actors can become quite adept at it.

The best way to become a fluent cold reader is to read aloud as often as you can. When you cold read during your audition, do not worry if you stumble over a word or two. The important thing to remember is to stay in character. Create chemistry between you and your fellow actor. Make the casting director, and anyone else watching, believe that you are thinking and feeling the words on the page.

Don’t Apologize

After an audition, an actor becomes his own worst critic. Often times, hopeful thespians are tempted to explain themselves to the directors. They provide excuses or even apologies in hopes of gaining sympathy. Avoid this as much as you can. Thank the casting director and leave the stage knowing that if you are right for the part, they will contact you. If not, know that you did your best. And remember: there are many other wonderful roles out there just waiting to be filled.

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