As dancers, our full-time job is auditioning and there are a few things you can always expect.
You’ll always need a headshot and resume and you’ll always need to retain choreography... quickly.
But I wanted to share some of my audition experiences in different areas of the industry since obviously, the best thing to do in an NFL audition is definitely not your best choice for the season audition at your local theatre.
Here's what I've learned:
We’ll start with the Radio City Rockettes because this was the first audition I’d ever been to in New York. These ladies are a huge deal and I look up to this company so much.
Wear a leotard that’s unique but not distracting
Tights and character heels (that are the same color for a nice leg line)
Wear your hair up and out of your face
Bring character tap shoes
When you first arrive to Radio City Music Hall you’ll be waiting outside in a long line. Once inside (after a bit more waiting and trying not to freak yourself out because everyone there is tall and beautiful and oh my god I’m nauseous) they’ll bring you upstairs to the studio about 70 at a time where you’ll learn a basic type-out combination. It’s always the same with a few classic Rockette-style poses, a pirouette, some strut kicks and some jump kicks. Or something along those lines. Then they make a cut.
After that you’ll learn a very detailed and lengthy combination where they’ll make another cut. For the next round, they add onto the long combo and you’ll perform that first combo again. This is where I got cut, but if you make it through, you’ll learn a tap combination to perform. Then, the next day at callbacks you'll do it all again. And then you'll wait to see if you got one of like...three spots. Good stuff.
At Radio City, I thought they’d be way more intense and intimidating but this audition was probably one of the most encouraging and inspiring I’ve ever been to. I didn’t feel any egos from the directors or assistants and they were all encouraging us to do our best and remember that we love to dance and there’s nothing to be afraid of or stressed about. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a dream show and I've auditioned three times now. Hanging up my LaDuca's for now.
I have a lot of experience with theme park dancer auditions. I’ve auditioned for every major theme park in Florida (loads of times) and for a few international theme parks as well. This is a tough one to categorize because theme parks have a lot of different styles of shows and this affects how I’d prepare.
Dress for the role because many theme park shows are very character driven
Don’t be too revealing (think family friendly) although there are some exceptions
Bring every dance shoe you own
Actually, bring a few different outfit options too
Since I’ve been around the block in the theme park audition world, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the casting directors and what they expect for each kind of show they’re casting.
So when I audition for Beauty and the Beast at Disney World I know that I’ll wear a colorful, form-fitting top (that covers my tattoo) and probably a cutesy, LuLuLemon skirt. I’ll have my LaDuca heels and my hair out of my face with more natural makeup.
But when I audition for Kinetix at Busch Gardens, that’s a completely different look. I’ll have my hair mostly down (or in my classic half up half down waterfall for Jarvis), a crop top and leggings for an edgier look with some combat boots and a more beat face.
I’d look up the shows on YouTube before going and wear something that might make it easier for them to visualize you in that show. Because that’s what it’s all about. Make them see you in the role you want.
The Orlando Magic Dancers are some of the best dancers I know. I auditioned for the team in 2015 and had one of the best experiences of my career.
Wear a crop top or bra and booty shorts, most girls go full out with rhinestones and fancy designs
Tan fishnets and tan jazz shoes but bring sneakers too
Hair down or mostly down, full makeup
Bring snacks because it’s going to be a long day
After making it through the open call, we went through panel interviews with alumni, individual interviews with the coaches, rehearsals and classes. It’s the longest audition process I’ve ever experienced. It’s usually only a week but that year the team was sponsored by the Baha Mar in The Bahamas and the top 30 women were flown there to do a photoshoot, community service, and perform The Finals that would be live streamed online. It was a three-week process and they pushed us to our limits.
The photoshoot with Michael Cairns was amazing and I learned so much in that 30-minute session. We got our hair and makeup done and I felt like a celebrity and I found this really helped me fake my way through it (because I had no idea what I was doing). We also did a few on-camera interviews (be cool Kaylee) and even thinking back on it now, those experiences were priceless and helped me find so much confidence in myself.
We rehearsed a new number and hung out on the beach and I made so many new, beautiful friends. Finals came and went and I didn’t make the team and I cried my eyes out because I felt so connected to the brand and to Orlando and I grew so much in such a short time. But that’s where I met Jeanine, April, and Nova Jay and in the next year these people would help me in my career time and time again. I’ve been cut at so many auditions but I probably gained the most from this rejection. It’s still a team I’d love to be part of at some point. We’ll see if I can stay still for long enough to last a full season.
Cruise ship dancer auditions are similar to theme park auditions but cruise ship shows tend to be raunchier. Family-friendly but with a tad more sex than Mickey Mouse might prefer.
Wear something that shows off your body, as always
Prepare to do a few different styles
Bring snacks because they’re usually long days
Make sure your passport is valid
They start in a similar fashion, usually with a technical across the floor to sort out the pros from the riff raff that aren’t even nailing a pas de bouree. Then you’ll learn one or two (or three or four or five) combos, usually something high energy and jazzy. Sometimes you’ll do lyrical or contemporary or hip hop too but the main style is usually jazz.
You’ll want to throw in any tricks you have up you’re sleeve in these auditions. Show them your aerials, switch leaps, tilts, whatever you’ve got. On cruise ships, there’s only one cast. The shows are set on the performers. So they want to see what special things you can bring to the production shows.
And lastly, get your passport. We work so hard in auditions to book jobs and if you had to say no to an offer because you didn’t get your passport sorted out, that’d be pretty silly. I’ve seen people get offered a contract on the spot and have been asked to leave that week. It happens, so have your paperwork prepared.
My time in Vegas was incredibly short-lived, but I did book a show. So that's cool! Even though I didn't attend a ton of Vegas auditions, hopefully this helps you prepare for Sin City.
Wear a bra or crop top and briefs or a G
Know how to walk like a showgirl and dance full out in heels
Wear ballroom heels, not character heels
Unless specified, wear your hair down and styled
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At the audition for Vegas! The Show there were probably 50 girls and I was wearing a blue rhinestoned bra and black high-waisted briefs. I had my hair pulled back in a low, middle-part ponytail since the audition called for us to have it out of our faces.
The first thing we were asked to do was walk. Showgirl walks. Arms out, not too stiff, not too flowy, lead with the hips, show off your legs. Slow and then fast in both directions. You'll want to nail the walks because it's a really good opportunity to make an impression with the manager/directors since we went two at a time. But, they didn't make a cut at this point and we went straight into the first combo.
First, it was a jazzy, character piece from the show. It was challenging enough to be fun but shouldn't completely throw off a trained dancer. It's more about the flavor and making sure you can pay attention to details. That's when they made the first cut and from there we started learning a raunchy, thrashy number. After another cut, we did partnering with the boys and were told we'd hear something in a few days. I was also asked to take down my hair and shove my briefs up my bum since we wear G's in the show. They even had us all turn around in height order to inspect our butts. That's Vegas for you!
I got offered a callback where I went to the theatre to perform the combos I had learned at the audition. I did them both on my own for the manager and dance captains. Plus, a little more partnering. So overall, be prepared for anything at the callback because they seem to do it differently each time.
As far as what to wear and how to present yourself at other Vegas auditions, it's pretty obvious to show off your body. Other than that, pay attention to the casting notice and go from there. It's a small town so once you do a few, you'll notice the trends. I'd also suggest trying to see the show you're auditioning for before you go... that's something I wish I would've done! There's lots going on in Vegas if it's your kind of scene so there's plenty to learn.
Moral of the Story -- Be ready for anything and be ok with failing a bunch before you get the hang of it.
It’s kind of funny for me to give advice on auditions because, of the auditions I’ve attended, I hardly ever book the job. So, in a way, what do I know? But then again, there's no dancer who books everything they audition for. Truth is I’m constantly learning and re-learning how to audition. But in a nutshell, it’s about doing your best (duh) and being as prepared as you can be. Be confident and just dance.