Here at PNB, we know that aspiring young dancers across the country are already auditioning for summer courses and hoping to get in to their top choice. So, we thought we’d ask our two new apprentices, Elle Macy and Jahna Frantziskonis, for some advice on how to make the most of your summer course audition experience. PNB’s nation-wide Summer Course Audition Tour is happening now!
Elle: In order to feel good the day of an audition, I need to feel good the week leading up to it so I really buckle down. Meaning, I like to throw in some extra cross training, eat my best balanced diet, and really focus in on my technique and artistry. The day of the audition, I like to allow extra time to stretch and listen to music (aka get in the zone). Also, it is very important for me to have a good, and light, breakfast that is sustaining but not too indulgent.
Jahna: I always get plenty of rest the night before an audition. I eat a good, big breakfast with plenty of time to digest. There is usually a lot of waiting time before an audition starts so, to keep warm, I put on warm ups over my ballet clothes and it helps a lot. I find a nice quiet corner to stretch, but make sure not to over stretch. The last thing you want is to pull a muscle right before the audition starts, so I make sure I am completely warm before doing any big stretches.
What should a dancer wear to the audition?
Elle: I always wear a leotard that I am very comfortable in. Comfort takes away the pressure. I am not into anything flashy for an audition because, in my head, I figure my dancing should do that, not what I am wearing. That is not to say that you shouldn’t be put together. I was once told that “you should put yourself together for ballet the same way you would if you were going out on the town.” So, I always keep that in mind!
Jahna: Make sure you check the website of the school conducting the audition because sometimes they have certain dress requirements. If they allow you to wear a colored leotard make sure it is something worn in and you know you are comfortable in it. You don’t want to wear a brand new leotard, have it not fit you well, and be fidgeting with it the whole class. I would wear a solid color and something that is modest but will still make you stand out in a positive way.
What do you do to stay focused when you are stressed or having a bad day?
Elle: Music is a huge outlet for me. I can get lost in my favorite song, or artist, and all of my negative energy goes away. If I have time, going to the gym works too. I can exercise my way out of a bad mood and start to view things much more clearly. It also helps to talk to the people who support me the most—my family, friends, and mentors. They are always on my side and know me well enough to pick me up. The best way to cope with stress is to find an outlet all your own!
Jahna: I always have to remember to breathe. Deep breathing and meditation helps me a lot especially when I am stressed. It is easier to stay focused when your mind is not racing with a million thoughts. A nice cup of tea always relaxes me. And, on a bad day, I always listen to my favorite music.
What is the best piece of advice you were given as a student?
Elle: I was raised with the belief that I could do anything, as long as I put the time and energy toward that goal. More recently, my dad told me about the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, where he explains his ten thousand hours rule. Meaning, that once a person has devoted ten thousand hours of their life to something, they should make it their life, they are a professional at that thing. Why not make it your purpose?
Jahna:I was told once to tap into what makes you unique and hold on to that. It was something that always stuck with me, especially during audition season. It is very intimidating when students are coming in from many different schools and the training can be completely different. I’d say just go into your audition with confidence and stay true to your own unique set of skills and abilities.
- Be confident. Make it apparent to your observers that you are their best choice.
- Be sharp when it comes to picking up the combinations. Your mind should be working just as hard as your muscles.
- Be put together. Have your pictures and resume ready, hair and make-up done nicely, wear your nicest leotard and tights, and have nice posture and be fully engaged throughout class.
- Arrive early(even earlier than you think you need to). Leave plenty of time in case something goes wrong (forgotten shoes, early registration, a wrong turn, etc.)
- Triple check your dance bag. Start at your feet and work upwards making a list of all the things you need. Plus, check the school’s website for any special requirements and make sure you have the correct pictures.
- Bring a healthy snack and plenty of water. Bring a snack that provides good quick energy and lots of water. Auditions are stressful and sometimes you start to sweat before they even start!
- Socialize in class. It is distracting to the teacher, and you wouldn’t want to miss a correction or even your turn to dance! You want to act as professional as possible throughout the audition.
- Don’t be overly pushy. Everybody wants to be seen, so don’t make it harder than it already is.
- Don’t stop in the middle of a combination. It is more impressive for the instructor to see you push through something difficult rather than give up.
- Don’t have holes in your tights or leotard. You want to look professional and put together.
- Simple earrings are the best. Too much jewelry or hair accessories can be distracting and look messy. Simplicity is beautiful!
Featured Image: Elle Macy & Jahna Frantziskonis in Ronald Hynd’s The Sleeping Beauty. Photo © Angela Sterling.