You’ve probably heard of the triple threat: a performer who’s adept at acting, singing, and dancing. It’s not unusual for actors to give plenty of thought to the first two (warming up their voice, selecting the perfect audition song and monologue) and less to the third.

But movement is an incredibly important part of theatre productions—and perhaps the most difficult to prepare for in an audition. Here are three tips for how to prepare for a dance audition.

Dance Audition Tips: #1 Dress appropriately

Think carefully about what you’ll wear and plan your wardrobe ahead of time. Your clothes should allow for freedom of movement (leave the jeans at home!), while also appearing at least somewhat professional and avoiding possible “wardrobe malfunctions.” Many auditions call for “loose-fitting” clothes, but you might consider wearing something more form fitting—leggings, biking shorts, a leotard, etc.—that will help show off what your body can do.

Make sure you’re wearing the appropriate shoes, as well. Jazz shoes are usually a safe option since they provide just enough traction to keep you from slipping while also allowing you to glide across the floor. But bring several different styles, if you have them. You may be asked to dance in different styles and being prepared will demonstrate how serious you are. You can sometimes find inexpensive shoes at thrift shops.

Don’t forget to tie up long hair to keep it out of your face—facial expressions are crucial to dancing! And if you wear make-up, keep it simple (and waterproof—you might work up a sweat).

Dance Audition Tips: #2 Maintain Your Body

Dance is a workout, and you should prepare your body accordingly:
● Stretch: Warm up your body, just as you would your voice. Running through some simple stretches or even yoga poses will help you be more limber and avoid injuries. Remember to stretch your whole body.
● Hydrate: Bring water with you to keep up your fluid intake. Drinking plenty of water the day before will help, too.
● Eat well: On audition day, skip the sugary drinks, dairy, and fried or otherwise fatty food. Choose lean protein (such as chicken) and carbohydrates (rice, etc.)
● Exercise regularly: Cardio will help build up your stamina, making it easier to run a set over and over again or sing while dancing. And core and leg exercises will help with your balance, flexibility, and technique. Just don’t work out too closely to your audition—you don’t want to be sore!
● Sleep well: The night before your audition is a great time for no plans and plenty of relaxation. In addition to giving your muscles adequate rest, a good night’s sleep will also help recharge your mind, making you better able to remember the many moves and combos you’ll be taught for the audition. Both your brain and your body will thank you!

Dance Audition Tips: #3 Do your homework

Learn as much as you can about the show you’re auditioning for. Dance auditions often implement choreography that will later be used in the production and set to the show’s music. Studying the show ahead of time will put you in the best position to know what to do, and maybe even what cues to listen for in the music.

dancers in white dressesConsider researching these points: What genre is the show’s music? What style(s) of dance have choreographers applied to the show in the past? After all, the music and dance styles for a more traditional show like Carousel are going to differ greatly from a more modern one like In the Heights. See if you can find recorded performances online or through your local library.

You can also practice some basic dance moves (especially jazz steps), and online tutorials will help you expand your base of knowledge. You might even consider taking a dance class online or through a local recreational center or dance studio. Study technique as well as steps—for example, pointing your toes and employing facial expressions to enhance your performance.

Finally, as always, stick to basic audition etiquette: Arrive early, smile, be polite, and remember that your audition begins the moment you walk in the door. Directors aren’t just looking for talented dancers—they’re also looking for people who can learn and will be easy and pleasant to work with. Have fun and break a leg! (Metaphorically, of course.) 

Andrew Koch is a writer and editor from Cincinnati. His most significant dance accomplishment was completing the “Shipoopi” in a production of The Music Man.

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