Top Tips for College Dance Auditions

by Danielle Hernandez on February 27, 2019


Dance college audition tips and advice for dancers wishing to get into their favorite college.

Whether you are auditioning for college, a dance company or an entertainment position, auditions are a fact of life for every dancer. Serious high school dancers can relate to the urge to nail that extra pirouette or jump just a little bit higher. Here is some news for you, sky-high extensions or picture perfect Pointe won’t be enough when you audition for a college dance program.

As you daydream about life in college and look forward to the exciting opportunity to grow and mature as a dancer in a college program, you have to cross the duel process of getting accepted at the college as well as to the dance program. The pressure is tremendous, and competition may seem intense. But auditions also offer a chance for your unique personality to shine, highlight your strengths. Preparation is the key to having confidence in the audition process!

A few minutes in front of panelists will decide how you will spend the next four years of your life. Whether you are new at it, or have been going for years and need just a little reminder that you can’t take anything for granted or need a reassuring guideline to help you through the process, we have got your back, read on!

Breaking Down The Audition Process

Breaking down the audition Process

What Happens at Auditions?

Most auditions begin with a technique class- often in ballet or modern. Occasionally, jazz is also preferred by dancers who want to demonstrate their clean lines and correct form. It is also a place to show how they interact with other dancers. This is the chance for dancers to show that they have the potential. Apart from technique, the other important element is demeanor and the way a dancer carries herself.

Audition adjudicators want students to show confidence, correct themselves, and project that they will be star students. A humble attitude and sense of presence with clear transitions are encouraged.

After technique, come solo, and most college audition request for a solo performance of about one to one and a half minutes duration. Any style preferred by dancers is ok, and it could be open for all applicants to watch or closed, with only the faculty present. Again, it’s not the tricks that they are looking for, of course, a beautiful triple pirouette will get noticed, but not a necessity. The solo dance is a chance to bring out the passionate side of a dancer, and evaluate personality, emotion and artistic maturity.

Interview – The interview may or may not happen before a solo. It may even occur after solo while standing before the panel or as one-on-one interaction with one or more of the panelists. Most faculties want to know about a dancer’s relationship with dance, and what they could bring to the college dance community. It is the chance for dancers to talk about their art.

Your Dance Portfolio- Your dance portfolio, including photos and some videos could come in handy when selectors sit down to discuss a few days after the audition. Learn how to create a perfect dance portfolio with these easy tips.

What to Expect On The D-Day

What to expect on the Dance day

Auditions typically take all day. Most schools start with a ballet class, but not all. However, many colleges don't cut because of weak ballet technique because they want to know if the dancer's strength lies in other dance forms like modern, jazz or hip-hop classes. If you are selected, you are asked to perform a solo, and later, a one-on-one interview.

Many colleges also organize an open day where current dance students perform; there are classes, talks and a small instruction class for all dancers following which your audition takes place. All in all, be prepared to have an exhausting day at the college of your dreams.

Tips Before Audition:

  • Remember to Get Noticed: Be seen! Although we won’t recommend standing front and center all the times as elbowing others shows desperation as well as community etiquette. But don't be invisible. Try and come out front during the entire audition at least a couple of times.
  • Be True to Yourself: You can’t hide much when you are dancing. Faculty wants to see the real you as well as the dancer in you. Don’t try to over impress, but do show proper training. After all, you can’t lie with your body.
  • Stick to Your Strengths: Now is not the time to try a Pointe piece you were not proficient in. Be well-rehearsed, don't do tricks. You don't have to perform feats to show off you are a dancer.
  • Select a Costume That Complements You: Remember to select dancewear that is comfortable, appropriate for the choreography and also suits your body type.
  • Your Dance Teachers are Still Relevant, Trust Them: If you attend dance classes in school or a studio, seek out your dance teacher for audition advice. Many of the teachers have also worked as dancers, making through tough auditions themselves.
  • Do Thorough Research: Most colleges enlist their tutors, information about past and upcoming shows, course details, success stories and a lot more on their website and social media. Learn about the caliber of the dancers who cut, look at the range and levels of dance genres taught. This will give you a fair idea on how to prepare.
  • Mind your Body Language: Both on and off the dance floor, look attentive and ready. Don’t slouch or lean on the barre or look bored. You are being watched at all times during the audition, therefore your body language matters. No cell phones don’t chew gum and certainly don’t have a condescending attitude towards other dancers!
  • Back up Plans: Always have a backup DVD of your dance track, a backup costume, and plenty of DIY quick fix items like safety pins, clear nail paint to avoid runs in the costumes and leggings. Remember to carry an extra set of your portfolios and resume too! Your dance bag should be able to accommodate all this and some more! Try this collection.

Tips For The Audition Day

Tips for the audition

  • Make sure your travel plans include a margin for delays, late arrivals, and adequate rest before the audition. Reaching a day before the date if the venue is not in your city is a good idea.
  • Arrive on time to register, change, stretch and warm up for the class, and also familiarize yourself with any requirements
  • Stays hydrated and carry your water along with a snack to keep your energy levels up at all times. When on a break try and rest with some soothing music on your player and carry appropriate clothing to layer up and stay warm.
  • If you are asked to correct, apply it immediately, always self-correct instead of waiting for the instructor to point it out to you.
  • Presentation and technique complement each other, and you cannot focus on one at the cost of the other.
  • Be “in the moment” when you are performing or listening to instructions. You have to be physically and mentally healthy and upbeat to attain this balance.
  • Be well groomed. Women should put on makeup and men should make sure they are well turned out and tidy. Wear minimal or no jewelry unless necessary. No peeping undergarments, low waist clothing, and cover your tattoos and piercings!
  • Try and stay away from your friends. If you and your friends are auditioning together, there will be a lot of chit-chats, gossip and you might look too similar. The idea is for both of you to stand out, not blend in! Therefore, discuss this beforehand with your friend and maintain a distance during the audition.
  • Be professional. Looking down at the dance floor while dancing, not maintaining eye-contact, crying, screaming or making faces while a misstep- these are all signs of unprofessionalism.

Your Ready List of Audition Attire

Pick from these classic pieces and get set for your dance audition!

  • Ballet: Black Leotard, pink tights, pink ballet shoes, clean bun with a colored unique hair accessory for easy recognition
  • Jazz: Tight top/ Leotard, Jazz pants, jazz shoes or bare feet, hair tied neatly back, bright colors and unique dancewear is your best bet.
  • Hip-Hop: Hip Hop dance shoes or sneakers, loose-fitting pants (no jeans or tights), bright colors, a great hat or other funky accessories.

One Parting Tip: You have to be accepted in the university before the dance department of your dream college can take you. When you left your dance studio to go to college, you may have been the star dancer, but as a freshman, you might discover that there are many best dancers.

Therefore, open your mind, body, and soul and learn from everything around you.


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