Every. dancer has been through this kind of frustrating episode, walking out of the room wondering, "What happened? Why couldn't I concentrate?" Just like your body, your mind has to be in good shape. It you haven't learned how to find your equilibrium in an easy situation, how will you manage during a stressful callback?
Be Prepared –Have everything you need for the audition. This includes proper shoes, band-aids or moleskin, proper attire, a photo and resume, if required, and more. Being prepared will help you feel confident when auditioning.
Another part of preparation is knowing your role, if it's a character you're portraying. Read The Nutcracker, for example, and study the emotions that Clara feels. Then, picture yourself as Clara feeling these same emotions as you perform.
Prepare Mentally –With mental preparation, anything is possible. Take a few minutes to mentally prepare yourself and focus before an audition.
Dress Appropriately –When auditioning, dress for the
Do Not “Hide” – Do not hide in the back while learning choreography. The audition panel will appreciate seeing you learn the combinations. It gives them an idea of how you learn. Many times a lesser dancer who is a quick learner may win the part simply because the rehearsal time is short and the audition panel needs dancers that learn fast.
Ask Questions – Do not be afraid to ask questions. The audition panel will not think asking for help or clarification is a sign of weakness. It will show that you want to do your best. Do not ask silly questions or questions just to attract attention. Also, do not ask questions already answered. That will show you do not pay attention.
Do Not Change the Choreography – You may have a great idea of how to make the audition combination better, but resist the temptation to do it during your audition. The audition panel will not appreciate it and you may come off as difficult to work with. You will also alienate the choreographer and accomplish nothing but ruining your chances of getting the part. Perform audition combinations as taught.
Perform With Stage Presence – Perform as if you are actually on stage or on
Take Corrections Well – A choreographer correcting you can actually be a good thing. If the choreographer or someone on the audition panel is specifically giving you corrections, it means they are paying attention to you and they like you. They would not take the time to correct you if they were not interested in you. Feel good about corrections.
Do Not let Mistakes Show – If you make a mistake during a combination, do not let it show to the audition panel. Do not stop dancing or make a face. Many times the audition panel will have no idea you made a mistake – unless you let them know by “showing” it. If you look confident in your movement, the audition panel may even think the other dancers messed up and you did the combination correctly.
Take Notes - I've always found it helpful to write down anything from feelings(happy or frustrated) notes on what I need to improve on, progress, etc.
Advice From Mind/Body Experts
Practice daily before the big day. Learn to talk to yourself whenever you get frustrated while dancing. Although it might feel silly initially, "self-talk" is a highly respected, often used sports psychology technique. When we get upset negative thoughts creep in: "Why can't I do this? I'm not good at this!" Snap into a more positive mindset by coaching yourself in gentle, soothing tone--even when you're in class. In the same way you would encourage a friend to slav upbeat, repeating these messages can shift your mood. For example, instead of telling yourself that you're struggling with fouettes,, congratulate yourself for tackling a step many never master. You'll be surprised how nicely your body responds to receiving encouragement.
Many athletes also use imagery and visualization to picture success. Creating an emotional bookmark of a peal, event takes the practice one step further "We all have had the 'zone' experience, where you feel there is no boundary between you and the universe," says Harlene Goldschmidt, Ph.D., psychologist and director of education and outreach for the New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble. "But it is important to realize that it is both an emotional and kinesthetic memory--an event." Whatever event you recall as your zone experience, file it now so you can tap into it during an audition. Your body and mind will remember what success felt like while you were in your zone, and you will "recognize, grasp onto, and gravitate towards similar experiences," she says. "And it has the energy to dilute negative feelings."
Goldschmidt says that by using a "felt image" (instead of just a visual one), you engage a larger portion of your brain. By activating more brain tissue, learning and focus become easier. Recalling these emotions and images should be practiced before the audition so that there is a clear, complete file of the desired memory. This way, it will be accessible when you choose to use it, like notes earmarked in a binder. Once the day of the audition arrives,
Lauren Gordon, a career counselor at Career Transitions For Dancers, suggests beginning to evaluate your calm quotient early in the morning. "Take a mental inventory of your day," says Gordon. "Have you had enough sleep and food? Have you allocated enough travel time to your audition? Have you found at least 10 minutes of downtime in the morning to regroup and prepare for your day?" This type of checklist is essential to feeling confident for the day ahead.
The Long Wait
Broadway dancer and master teacher Steven Sofia says that while the pre-audition scene can become a social hour, figure out what will work best for your individual concentration. "Sometimes the hubbub can be helpful because it breaks nervousness," says Sofia. Gordon agrees, noting that networking and gleaning audition tips can make good use of intense energy. But Sofia warns that socializing "doesn't help you focus on the job ahead."
If chatting with your fellow dancers is too distracting, use the waiting time to turn inward and create a spiraling, warm energy. A special playlist on your iPod can be helpful. Make sure you consider what type of audition you are attending. If it is an explosive show, hyped-up hip hop music might get you in the right spot. But if you are preparing to showcase your melancholy drama, opt for quieter songs.
Time to Shine
Once you enter the actual audition you should be in high spirits with a laser mind. Now is the moment to concentrate on your breath, the universally touted relaxation tool. "Breathing has to do with emotions. And since dancing is a physical expression of emotion, it is essential that the breath remain relaxed, balanced, and present," says Sofia. "If your breath becomes tense it is apparent in the movement immediately."
Goldschmidt suggests using diaphragmatic breathing for dancers and athletes. Her specific approach (BRAVE) includes breathing, relaxing, aligning, visualizing, and energizing. By inhaling and exhaling from low in the stomach, you create a gentle, rhythmic massage that both calms and energizes. The moment tension rises or a frown forms, inhale for four counts, hold for a moment, and then exhale for eight counts. The beauty of the technique is that as you pay attention to your breathing, you can also continue your work in the audition. You will release tension, and you may find you are dancing better and with less confusion. When you move to the side while another group takes the floor, concentrate on the sound and sensation of your breath to take your mind away from negative roadblocks and regain your footing.
The Calm After the Storm
Once you have auditioned, try to remember that the result is now out of your control. It might be beneficial to review your performance with a friend or invested teacher, noting items you want to improve and congratulating yourself for tasks well-done. But at this point, the decision of the artistic team is separate. It usually consists of several factors that don't necessarily relate to you personally.
Setting goals for each audition will keep you from getting overwhelmed; your energy will be centered around objectives instead of dwelling on the outcome. "If you audition for something that is a long shot, be realistic," says Gordon. "Maybe you can improve a couple of technical points and enjoy the challenge." As counterintuitive as it may seem to dancers who strive for perfection, instead of cycling through the "what-ifs" of an audition, return to your breathing practice, class, and researching the next audition.
Remember that your only job is to do your best. Then, as hard as it may be, let it go completely. With this, you will be doing your best for your art and for your mind.