Top 10 tips you want to consider while seeking a position on your dream dance squad.
Competitive Dance and a Dance Squad
Dancing is a highly competitive activity. There are various kinds of teams such as Youth/association, middle school, high school, collegiate, all-star, and professional teams. The competition is at local, regional, state, national, and international levels.
Competing dance teams are judged on criteria sic as form, team unison, precision, movements such as jumps, leaps, turns, choreography, enthusiasm, and, the use and visual appeal of props such as pom poms.
In a routine, a squad or team will incorporate a specific dance style (i.e., hip-hop, jazz, or lyrical), technical work (leaps, turns, kicks, splits, jumps), and, depending on the routine, pom-poms, and cheers.
Dance teams are also popular in performance dance, especially at sporting events, most commonly performing during the pre-game and halftime periods (and, in some cases, on the sidelines) of football and basketball games.
A Dance Tryout
Given the immense popularity of dance teams, getting into a favorite dance squad is not an easy task. Every girl in their freshman year wants to be one of the girls in a sparkly top dancing on the sidelines on every Football Friday night throughout the fall. To achieve this dream, a dancer requires dedication, commitment, skills, talent and more.
Anyone interested in being part of a dance squad, both in high school and college is required to attend a tryout. Tryouts are usually held in spring or early summer, so the teams are ready before most sports begin.
There are several aspects to a dance team tryout with the first thing being to know the basic dance techniques that will be used during the season. These techniques usually comprise of toe touches, fouetté turn combinations, kicks, and switch leaps.
One of the critical expectations included in a dance team tryout is that a dancer can quickly master multiple short routines in different styles. You must know specific styles or forms of dance for certain team tryouts. For example, NDA teams compete with routines that incorporate jazz, hip-hop, and poms styles, so in an audition, you will learn a routine in each of these types of dance and then perform them shortly after that in front of the panel of judges.
Tips to conquer Dance Team Tryouts
You have been following a particular dance team for years and have all their performances imprinted in your mind. You even know your favorite dancers by name and signature moves from pieces they've choreographed. Your life mission is to be on the stage with rehearsing, hanging out, training with them. Whichever dream dance team it is – you can be a part of it.
Whether you're trying out for a high school team, or one at the college or professional level, use these tips and tricks to navigate through every step of what can be an emotionally and physically demanding experience.
1. Think About Why You Want to Join a Specific Dance Team
Is it because you look up to certain choreographers and directors? Because you want to grow in that team's style? Because your mission as a dancer aligns with the team? A clear and compelling reason will help you keep your focus on your goal, especially when you run into obstacles or experience hardships during the journey.
You will be interviewed, and knowing answers to why you want to audition for a particular team will make a difference. Considering you will be playing the role of an ambassador when you attend charity events or local events, you need to remember your real purpose for being part of a team, so it shines through in front of fans.
2. Train as if You're Already on the Dream Dance Team
A dance team spends a lot of time together, what with the weeks and months and years of rehearsing and performing and travel. Teams are families and little communities. For a newcomer to belong to a team and be welcomed, they have to vibe with the team, as a dancer and just as important as a person.
To achieve this, you need to belong to that community and one way you can do that are by taking classes from/with members of the team, especially the directors. You will start to get familiar with their style, teaching methods, and personalities. You will also get to know the other members of the team who are taking those classes. Use the lessons to not just learn about the choreographer or director's style by observing them; even analyze how they move, how they take instruction, and how they interpret the music.
Being familiar with the style that is expected will give you confidence, and even if you mess up during auditions, the team and directors will have already seen you train and dance outside of that!
3. Form Relationships with the Team Members
If part of the reason why you want to join a dream team is the culture and kind of people on it, then you need to understand if in the long term it will resonate with you. Each team has its own culture, a brand, personality, and history that were shaped by its members since the team's beginnings. Do you vibe with it? Remember – the team has to be a good fit for you, too, as much as you are for it. So get to know the team members and you will get a sense of if it's the place for you. And if you can get along with most of the people on the team, you're good.
4. Get Details
And by that, I don't mean the audition dates. Dig around to find out about any team skill requirement; specific techniques in dance forms that you will need to know, like splits or double pirouettes. Checking on other important details such as participation fees, weight limits, and what the day's event schedule looks can help you feel prepared and in control. Getting the lay of the land before the big day arrives will not only help you prepare better, but you'll feel calmer and focused as a result.
Find out if there are a 'pre-audition workshops' before the actual audition too and ensure you go to those!
Ask around to see what the audition process will be like, how many cuts they will have if there will be callbacks if it is an all-day event or will take a few hours. Be prepared accordingly and bring a change of clothes, water, snacks, and of course the right mental makeup.
5. Take Classes from a Professional Studio
When you are preparing for being part of a top-notch dance team, your dance skills will be the most critical consideration. Hone them to a razor sharp edge by taking professional dance lessons ahead of time. A strong background in dance will also give you an advantage over other dancers who have little or no formal training.
Before signing up to dance classes, research to identify what style of dance will best help you in your tryouts. Ballet helps with balance and poise while Jazz can help boost your precision and technique. A hip-hop class will help you take your style up a notch.
6. Improve Your Technique
So you have always danced and felt prepared to take on the toughest audition? Don't let it lead to complacency. Becoming a collegiate dancer means you still have room to improve as the expectations you must meet have been drastically raised. Practice your turns, practice your jumps, practice your leaps, and especially practice unique skills that could set you apart- such as wearing your hair and makeup and interview skills.
Sign up for classes that can give you the practice you need and help you perfect required skills. The coaches can share their own stories, and you can certainly benefit from the tips and advice from those who have been around.
7. Get in Your Best Shape Ever
Supplementing your dance classes at a professional studio with a workout plan at least a few weeks before your tryout will up your endurance and flexibility significantly. A good workout plan should include a combination of cardiovascular exercises balanced with stretching or yoga.
If you do make the team, you will have to most likely participate in a training camp with the rest of the team, so it’s best to be prepared in advance. Doing a split requires daily stretching; you will also need a lot of strength and stamina to be a dance team member. Work on building muscles in your back and stomach, and condition yourself by raising your heart rate each day by exercising.
8. Be Teachable
When auditioning for college programs, judges are looking for more than proper technique and knowledge of dance forms. Having a teachable personality means staying loose, staying engaged, laughing at your mistakes, and holding your head up high. And don't rest unless you get answers to your questions.
Your determination will not go unnoticed. Auditors want to know you are not smug about your achievements till date and are looking for those who they want to hang out with for the next four years, people who are open to learning, growing, and improving!
9. Remember That Performance Scores Points
College Programs are looking for people who are good at two of the three triple threats (dancing, singing, and acting) but the golden ticket that will get your acceptance letter has to be your potential in the third realm. The judges are observing your willingness to go for it, and enjoying your performance the joy on your face, so, SMILE!
Personality is a big part of an art form like dancing, so make sure yours shines through; hold your head up at all times and keep a pleasant look on your face and show them how excited you are to be auditioning for a spot on the team. It is also essential that you speak well and are personable.
10. Dress Appropriately
In the collegiate world, expect to appear on television and real close-ups. Thousands of fans see your shining face on the field or court, and thousands more will also be watching behind a television screen. With this being said, it is vital that you look your best at a collegiate tryout.
Most dance teams have dress code requirements for tryouts. If the team doesn't tell you what to wear for tryouts, wear black stretch pants and a bright tank top or even a fabulous leotard. Brings two pairs of shoes, as there may be two rounds, one focusing on jazz (carry jazz booties) and the other for hip hop (use non-marking dance sneakers)
Booty shorts and a crop top with nude fishnet leggings works excellent. Some bling on the top like diamante or sequins helps you shine, and of course, colors of the team you are trying to make will be a huge plus!
While your whole mission in high school and college may be to make that coveted position on the school, college, all-star or State dance team, going for a dance tryout is more than that. Auditions have an element of unpredictability, and there are as many stories of disappointed freshmen as there are of successful ones. Just know that the life lessons you will learn in the process of preparing for and giving a dance tryout are as precious as wearing the colors of the team.
All the very best in making it to your Dream Team!