It’s that time of year again, audition season. And again, in-person auditions are being canceled and dancers are scrambling to get video auditions filmed and submitted. The tips below will help you tackle this project effectively and hopefully save you the most infuriating aspects of the process.
1. Get organized.
Check the websites of all the places you want to apply and compile the information in a way that makes sense to you. Create a spreadsheet of the combinations you’ll need for each school, or put everything in one master checklist, broken down by sections: bar, center, jumps, pointework. Then you can shoot each combination separately as raw material and edit the footage together according to the needs of each school.
2. Allow plenty of time.
Plan each section taking about half an hour. Some dancers don’t need as much time, others need more. Get to know yourself: If you’re likely to dance better with two shorter shooting sessions, plan your studio time accordingly.
3. Understand logistics
Pay attention to each school’s exact demands, including whether they want both sides or just one at the helm (this can vary from combination to combination, even for the same school), and whether they specify shooting angles . Most prefer barre workouts to be shot diagonally, midway between front and side views. But some will ask that a specific combination be filmed in profile, or with the dancer facing the camera. Take notes on these details in your list or spreadsheet.
Even if you only need to show one side of the bar, it’s not a bad idea to film both sides. Then you have the choice between two takes of each exercise, and you can consider changing it: Display the adagio on the right, for example, and the big beats on the left. As a bonus, you’ll be evenly warmed up as you move through the trickier middle section.
4. Get help, if possible.
You can make up the combinations yourself and have a friend or relative record you, but it’s best to have a teacher’s eye on the procedure. They will know how to make combinations that will show you to your greatest advantage.
5. Don’t be afraid to speak up!
If the teacher helping you creates a combination you don’t like, politely ask them to change it. Unlike a regular class or a private lesson, the goal here is not to help you become a better dancer, but to show the dancer you already are. If you feel comfortable with attitude turns but not spiral turns, make sure your instructor knows that.
A teacher in the room can also help you navigate your perfectionism; they can tell you, after a combination, if the hold is good enough, or if it’s worth trying again. They are also better qualified to let you know halfway through whether a swing or error is worth stopping.
6. Unless your teacher stops you, keep dancing.
If you jump out of a pirouette instead of nailing the landing, keep going. Above all if it happens on the second side! You can always try again, but this last take may end up being the best, despite the wobbles. Remember that the longer you shoot a combination, the more tired you will be. And the more tired you are, the harder it will be to make that landing.
If you step incorrectly, keep dancing. The judges watching the video don’t know what the combination is, so they won’t know it’s a mistake. If your skid happens on the first side, try to remember to make the same “mistake” on the second side. But even if you forget – or if the mistake occurs on the second side – you still have to complete the combination if you can. Judges may be looking for consistency in your turns, but not in the sequence of steps. They probably won’t even notice that what was a throw right, for example, has become a put together left.
7. Remember that no one expects you to be perfect.
If they did, they wouldn’t want to train you, and that’s of course what summer intensives are for. Dancers are perfectionists, and the temptation to hit the little trash can icon on your phone can add a lot of pressure to the video audition process. And it can backfire if you’re too tired to dance long before you’ve managed to put it all in the box, so to speak.
Try to keep in mind that, in the eyes of the outside, you are the same dancer on your worst day as on your best. Chances are today it’s neither, and it’s the dancer you are today that schools want to see. So do your best, choose the best takes from the ones you have, then upload your video. Good luck!