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How to Prepare for an Audition: Dance

Updated on January 13, 2017

No matter the art, auditioning is an experience that all performing artists must face during their career. As a professional, your presentation of yourself is just as important as your performance. There are many unspoken expectations as well as small things that you can do to stand out.


Know for what you are auditioning

Now this may seem a fairly obvious step, but having as much information as possible can only increase your chances and decrease your nerves. When your brain has something concrete on which to focus, it allows logical thinking rather than fear and doubt. You have the opportunity to visualize the audition and prepare any materials needed. By breaking down the audition you are able to solidify your strengths and do any additional rehearsing necessary.

In knowing the type of audition, you will know what attire is appropriate as well as what hairstyle and shoes are best. For example, showing up to a ballet audition in cargo pants and a T-shirt would be absolutely inappropriate. You would not be considered even if you are allowed to stay.

Knowing in advance if there will be more than one style will help you in a couple ways. The most important is that if you are not well versed in one, you have the chance to research and prepare. The other is to ensure that you are completely prepared for everything you may encounter.

Having advance knowledge about the company, director, choreographer etc. is important as well. This way you know the style as well as the genre that is being judged. It also may assist you in picking up the combinations if you have a general idea of what to expect.

Audition Clothing Examples


What do I wear?

Your attire will be determined by the type of audition and the spot for which you are auditioning. Though appearance should not factor into the decision, your first impression will have a strong bearing on your results. From the moment you set foot in the building your appearance should convey professionalism and confidence.

For a traditional ballet audition it is most professional to wear pink tights and a black leotard. This allows those judging to see the lines of your body, placement and turn out. Wearing ballet skirts is acceptable for class, but not to a ballet audition. Be sure that your tights are clean and hole free and that your leotard is simple and clean cut. Lots of embellishments do make youstand out but notin a good way. Your dancing should speak for itself and not rely on glitter and lace to be seen. Your shoes should show wear but have no holes and for pointe shoes they should be broken in but not dead.

For a jazz audition jazz pants are are most acceptable. A leotard is recommended because it is more professional than a T-shirt or tank top. If the audition is more casual capris or shorts may be acceptable as would a tank. The shorts and shirt should still be form fitting so your lines can be seen. Again, your shoes should be broken in but no holes.

For hip hop pretty much anything goes any more. Right now harem pants are very much the thing to wear. Bra tops are also very popular, but not recommended for an audition unless it fits the style of job for which you are auditioning. High top sneakers are also currently in as are combat boots. Staying trendy and on top of the current style is important for an audition such as this.

When you are faced with an audition with multiple styles, it is best to wear leotard and tights. Then is the audition goes, layer with appropriate clothing over the traditional leotard and tights. Clothes do not need to be brand new, they just need to be clean and professional (no holes, runs, etc)

Audition Shoe Examples


How do I style my hair?

There is nothing worse than having a dancer's hair fall out of its style during an audition. It becomes a distraction not only for the judges but the dancer too. It is extremely unprofessional and does not convey a good impression.

A traditional ballet bun is always a safe choice for ballet, jazz, contemporary and modern. Again, hip hop remains the exception. Messy buns, curls, ponytails, etc are all acceptable for a hip hop audition. However, if you are not used to dancing with your hair down, that probably will not be the best choice. Go with what you are most comfortable with and how you generally tend to wear your hair for class.

There are two ways to make a professional ballet bun. Of course there are always variations that can jazz it up a little such as twists and braids. Remember, don't overdo it. Simple, clean and classy is always the way to go.

Ballet Bun #1


Ballet Bun Instructions #1

  • Slightly dampen hair from the root to the tip. A spray bottle works well and keeps water from flying everywhere.

TIP: *Hair should be slightly dirty as it will provide a better hold. Slightly dirty means that it was washed the day before. Sleeping on wet hair does not count as dirty.*

  • Smooth hair into a ponytail and secure with the same color hair tie as the hair.
  • If you have wavy or curly hair you may want to straighten the hair first.
  • Twist hair from base to tip.

TIP: **gel to the ponytail will help hold in ends. Great for layered hair*

  • Twist hair around base.
  • Secure with hair pins or bobby pins.
  • If you still have stray ends sticking out, use a hair net the same color as the hair.
  • Pull the hair net over the bun. Twist the hair net and place it over the bun until it cannot fit over the bun. Take the extra, gather, tuck under and secure with a hair or bobby pins.
  • Spritz with hairspray.

How to make a classic ballet bun

Ballet Bun #2


Ballet Bun Instructions #2

  • Slightly dampen hair. Again hair should be slightly dirty for a better hold.
  • Using a hair tie the same color as the hair to make a ponytail.
  • Place a hair donut around ponytail. These can be purchased a number of places. Beauty supply stores or a store that sells more specialized hair items are usually the best places to find them at a reasonable price.
  • After the ponytail is pulled through the donut, spread it over the donut. Use a donut the same color as the hair so if it shows through a little it will not be noticeable.
  • Use a clear elastic hair band secure hair around the donut.
  • Tuck the ends and bobby or hair pin them in.
  • Finish with a light spritz of hairspray.

Ballet Bun #2


Right Before the Audition

Remember that as soon as you set foot in the building your audition has begun. If any improper behavior is conducted, those deciding will most certainly be informed. Conduct yourself with professionalism and grace even when signing in.

Each audition has different requirements. Some have applications that needed to be submitted prior to the live audition. Others want specific dance pictures or head shots. And still others may want a written statement as well. This is why familiarizing yourself with the audition process of the the company you are auditioning for is so important.

If an live audition is an open call, you can just show up, submit a resume, get a number and perform after reviewing guidelines. If the audition required an application, you will need to check in to receive a number.

Auditions usually have very specific requirements about number placement. It tends to be in a visible spot such as the stomach or back. Make sure if there is particular spot that you do put your number there.

Always wear warm ups over your audition attire to keep muscles warm and audition clothes clean. Find a spot for your bag (do not over do it, one bag is plenty). Once you have your shoes on, find a quiet spot to warm up where you will not be in the way and still be able to hear when instructions are given.

If you have a particular ritual that calms your nerves, now is the time to utilize it. For some it is listening to a certain song, others it is deep breathing, etc.


During the Audition

When you enter to audition, carry yourself with confidence even if you are shaking like a leaf. Be sure you are not portraying arrogance and just confidence. Place yourself in a spot you will be able to see as combinations are taught. If you miss something, wait to see if the instructor repeats it. If not, raise your hand and ask if the instructor deemed this appropriate. Some prefer to wait until they are finished to have an open question time.

As you are learning, mark (do smaller) through the combination so you know it by heart and the judges know that you are focused and serious. Even if you are standing on the side and waiting for your turn, be going through the piece in your head and stand straight and tall. Slouching, popping the hip out, crossing the arms, etc are signs of boredom and lack of focus.

If you have friends auditioning with you, don't talk to them. This is not social hour. I know this seems obvious, but nerves sometimes take a hold and we nervously begin to chatter.

Perform. Again this seems obvious, but it is a great reminder. Dance each exercise to its fullest and your fullest potential. Smile from time to time. Auditions are not so serious that you need to look terrified. For ballet, remember that the "Oo, Ah" faces are NOT acceptable.

If you make a mistake, brush it off. We are human. We make mistakes. We fall off our box, we trip over our own feet, we forget to point a toe, etc. The key is how we handle ourselves when things of this nature happen. Keep going. Don't make a face, don't pause and certainly don't curse. Just keep on dancing and finish strong.


After the Audition

In my opinion, this is the hardest part: waiting. Just waiting is more nerve wracking than the audition. Try to keep your mind on other things because you will get results generally in a week or two. Now if they said they would release the list in 24 hours and it If it has been more than the promised time, give them a call to inquire.

Then we play the waiting game.

If you make it it may be solely for a call back and you will need to completely others steps of the proess

All that said, I hope this guide was helpful. If you have any questions or additions, please feel free to comment! Thanks for reading!


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