Monday, July 18, 2011

College Dance Auditions 104: Video Auditioning

Maybe you've discovered that you have two auditions on the same day and must send a video audition to one of those schools. Maybe no one is available to fly with you, so your parents won't allow you to go. But let me make one thing clear: if you can help it, audition live, do NOT video audition. Getting into a program with a video audition is very risky and very hard.

Also, this section can be used for video auditioning for summer dance programs/intensives! I videotaped 5 separate auditions for intensives and 3 college auditions, and was accepted to all 5 intensives and 1 of the colleges. College video auditions are risky.

Choosing where to go (only if you have two auditions)
If you do have two auditions on the same day, you're faced with the horrible task of choosing which one to go to. Don't make the same mistake I did and go to the audition that you're less likely to get chosen from. I passed up what should have been an easier audition, sent a video to that school, and ended up rejected from both schools. Of course, it's hard to know which one will be harder. Go online, find some forums that may answer your questions, look at Youtube videos of Freshmen dancers in those schools, and ask yourself which looks more like you. Or, if you have a preference as to which school you'd rather go to, go to the live audition of the school you want to go to (although if using this option, be very careful - that's what I did and I decided when it was too late that I had made the wrong decision)

It's pretty much the same story as the live audition. Slick back that hair, pull it into a bun, wear a nice, flattering leotard, make sure your tights aren't ripped, wear the correct shoes. In most cases or even every case, the school will tell you what they want. Usually it's a solid, dark-colored or black leotard/unitard, maybe with or without shorts/jazz pants. If you do choose to wear some kind of covering, make sure it is skintight. The auditioners aren't able to make you do whatever they want in this case, so you should show them as much as you can in the 3-4 minute audition that you're getting.

Choosing the space
Seeing as most of us don't have giant, empty dance studios sitting around, waiting to be used, you have to make do with what you have. Ask your studio director if you can come in on a weekend or when there is an empty studio to practice and video your audition. Wherever you go, make sure the space is as plain as possible (no distractions, extra people, bright colors in the background) and make sure it is well lit. The last thing you want is an audition that's so dark or so distracting that the auditioners turn it off before they've seen what you can do.

This may be the hardest part for you. Talking on videotape? Hearing yourself recorded? Awful. This is why we're dancers - most of us don't speak/sing well (I had to sing for one intensive. Was not happy, but I got in). With this part, you'll be asked to begin the video with speaking your name, maybe where you're from, probably what entering class you'll be in, and maybe some future goals in dance, why you love dance, or why you're auditioning for this particular school. Example:

Hi, I'm ________ _____________. I'm auditioning for Undergraduate Freshman
Admission. My goal is to become a jazz teacher someday and inspire future dancers
to dance in the same way that my dance teachers have inspired me.

...Please don't use that. That wasn't well written. Just an example...
Also, once you physically write down (or type out) what you're planning to say, you need to memorize it. When taping yourself doing the introduction, have the camera pointing at your face (doesn't need to be a full body shot) and look straight into the camera and say what you've planned. Don't leave pauses, speak clearly, don't look away from the camera (no darting eyes) and remember that if you mess up, you can do it over again!

Ballet Barre
They'll probably ask for some Ballet barre exercises. They might tell you what they want (plies, tendus, ronds de jambe), but sometimes they don't. Scary, I know. Sometimes they say silly things like "2 minutes of exercises at the barre" or something equally unhelpful. If you get the "well what does that mean?" instructions, take them to your teacher and ask. Your teacher can even help you choreograph exercises that will show you off to the best of your ability. Remember that these exercises will be taped from the side. Meaning, the camera should be in line with your hips. Don't try to force that turnout, don't push your tendu back and end up pushing your hip back too. Colleges want to see correct placement as much as they want to see how high your leg can go. The college will never tell you an exact combination of what to do. I'm not really sure why, so use that to your advantage and only do what you do best, unless they ask for certain steps (then make sure you're not leaving them out!).

You'll probably be doing some ballet in the centre as well. Typical things to ask for are a petit allegro (they may give you certain steps to put in the combination), adage, and grand allegro. If you're auditioning for college, it's also typical to ask for double pirouettes en dedans and en dehors on both legs. Just...remember that you can tape things more than once.

Some colleges asked for modern combinations. Honestly, I have no traditional modern technique training. I asked one of my teachers who did have traditional technique training (but she didn't teach a class on it in the studio) to give me a crash course on what was expected of me in the modern section and to choreograph a few combinations for me. It was uncomfortable, but you gotta do what you gotta do. I can't really help you with this part other than to tell you: if you're like me and you have no modern technique, look on Youtube for classroom technique. You'll see what the auditioners want to see from you and what the style looks like.

Most intensives but not many colleges will ask for a jazz combination. Choose something that is flattering to your body and style - in other words, don't do musical theater jazz if you like a more funky, pop jazz. Keep the energy and eyes up, and adopt a character or attitude. Whereas in ballet everyone is expected to be elegant and mature or in modern where everyone is expected to be dynamic, this is your chance to show them who you are, if ballet and modern aren't you.

Some programs (college and intensive) will give you the option of putting in a self-choreographed solo of some sort (and some will require it). Even if you've never choreographed before, take the option and give it a shot. They're not expecting world-class choreography yet. They just want to see where your talent is. On that note, don't take something your teacher has choreographed and say it's yours. They will probably be able to tell. If you've never choreographed before, go through these steps to get you started:
  1. Style: choose a style you're strong in and that you'll show enjoyment in dancing
  2. Music: choose a song that will work with what style you chose. Do NOT choose a popular song because you like it. Take a bit of time and try to find a song that may not already be in your music library. Take a chance and choose a piece of music that is purely instrumental. This will show that you're mature and ready for what college will ask of you.
  3. Steps: choose a few steps you like to do and/or look good on you. Don't do a triple pirouette into an illusion if you're not good at it. Play to your strengths, not to what you think they want to see.
  4. OR Intention: choose an idea to choreograph around. Could be the flowers in your garden or your boyfriend. Choosing something meaningful that you really connect with will make your dancing stand out.
  5. Putting it all together: you can't just string all of your favorite steps together. Find some traveling steps. Go through choreography your teachers have done and "steal" steps from them. It's perfectly fine as long as you don't take entire sequences!
Good luck! I'd enjoy comments, questions, anything :)

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