10 Things Auditioning Dancers Want You To Know
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10 Things Auditioning Dancers Want You To Know

To save you all from embarrassing yourselves with your assumptions.

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10 Things Auditioning Dancers Want You To Know
Jo Jax

Dear family, friends, and loved ones of auditioning dancers,

Hello! I am an auditioning ballet dancer at the height of prime audition season. I'm writing to inform you all about this glorious audition process we are all going through right now. I know some of you might have questions, some of you might be looking down on it, some of you might just be entirely confused. To inform you, and to save you all from asking the ridiculous questions I've already gotten, here are 10 things auditioning dancers want you all to know about the professional audition process.

1. It's not an interview

First and foremost: the process for getting a job in the dance world is called an audition, not an interview. I understand the process for getting a job in any other field is called an interview, but this is not so in the arts. While there might be an interview component to the audition process, for the most part we will not be opening our mouth past checking in.

2. The Process

This is the process dancers go through for auditioning:

1. We research companies that we would like to be at and where we think we could fit into their aesthetic and style.

2. We create a dance resume listing any roles we have been given, places we have danced, or important people we have worked with, along with a video reel including both performance and class work and professional dance photos.

3. We send this collection of materials to companies we are interested in dancing at around the beginning to end of January. We hope to be invited to what is called "company class," the ballet class that the dance company takes every morning. If not, we may go to what is called an "open audition," an audition held in a major city where anyone can go and take class in front of artistic staff of the mentioned company.

3. The Places

We are auditioning for ballet companies, modern companies, or just general dance companies. Sometimes we audition for recognizable places, like Broadway or Disney or the Rockettes or a music video. These places can vary in size, style, repertoire, culture, and location in the world, like any other company in other fields. When a dancer gets a job at one of these companies, they receive a contract that is for a set amount of weeks, sometimes 12 or 20 or 32, but they typically don't exceed a year. Once your year contract is up, the artistic staff will let you know if they will be renewing your contract or not. Professional dance companies are not "dance troupes" that "compete with each other," they are not "clubs," and yes, they are as professional and serious of a career as any typical office job.

4. Sometimes they pay and sometimes they don't

In some styles of dance and companies, you will be paid for your work no matter what. In others, they will take you on as a trainee or an apprentice, which is usually unpaid, sometimes stipend, or sometimes want you to pay for it.

5. We will most likely have to get other jobs

As mentioned above, a lot of the time the pay you make as a dancer is minimal or nonexistent. This means that we will have to get second for third jobs to help support ourselves. A lot of the time if we're lucky, we get dance teaching jobs or even administrative jobs at the dance companies we are dancing at. We can also become waiters or waitresses, bar tenders, work in retail, or teach gym class or personal training. This means that after dancing from 9-5, we get late shifts until who knows how late, and the majority of our weekends is spent working.

6. It's very expensive

Auditions typically require flying or driving to different parts of the country. This means paying for travel and a hotel on top of an audition fee which is typically around $20-$40. And when we do this for three months straight, it gets very expensive. Which sucks extra because, as mentioned before, we're pretty damn broke. So during these few months we try to conserve as much money as possible.

7. We have no assurance about our plans for the next year

As I said, contracts typically last from September to March April or May. That means that we know where we'll be for those few months, but after that we aren't entirely sure. If this is the first season we'll be auditioning for, then we really have no idea where in the country or the world we'll be. If we are somewhere that we enjoy and are doing well at, it's most likely that we'll be staying. If we are somewhere that we dislike, we might be leaving to go to somewhere else. The dance world can be very short lived and very unstable, and we already know this.

8. Don't try to make plans with us from January- April (and sometimes later)

Audition season is typically from mid January through the end of March or April. Some places might even still see you in May. This means we'll probably be pretty busy during these few months handling our current responsibilities and commitments along with flying out every weekend. And as I said earlier, we're really trying to save money during this time, which means less fun social adventures like eating out or gong to the bars. Don't be surprised if we seem to disappear for a few months.

9. The audition itself is simple

An audition for a dance company is exactly what we do everyday: we take a dance class. Someone from the company teaches a class, and you just show up and do what they say. Sometimes they teach you some choreography from their pieces and you dance that for them. But it's mostly just a class in the style and type of dance that company does. It's usually two hours long. Sometimes you get cut during the class. Sometimes there are cuts done after class and you have to do more for them. Sometimes there are cuts done after class and they tell those who weren't cut to "look out for an email by the end of the season" or some bullshit like that. But the actual audition is just doing what we do best: dancing.

10. We will be going crazy

We're exhausted. We're jet-lagged. We're over-worked. We're starving from dieting. We're stressed. We're emotionally drained. We're physically destroyed. All we want is a job, and the anxiety and wait is killing us. So we'll be behaving differently than normal; probably tense and frustrated, maybe crying for no reason, and generally not happy. With all this turmoil going on, we don't want to deal with your annoying questions or judgement about this process. So don't ask us who audition season is going, don't bother us with your annoying questions, and just try to educate yourself before you ask us anything for your own safety.

Love,

Auditioning Dancers

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