Surviving Auditions When out of Shape


Tying my shoes before a performance!

This past weekend was audition number six. The scary part about this one was that it wasn’t a private company class audition… For me, it is so much more comfortable and relaxing when you have received permission to audition in company class. I like to be able to relax into warm up class with the other dancers who are already at ease in their daily routine. It somehow feels like less pressure when I don’t have to wear a number and compete with other dancers wearing numbers. Whenever possible, I opt for company class over “cattle call” auditions.

When attending the large open auditions I like to feel in tip top shape. After all, everyone else auditioning is going to be busting out their best moves to vie for attention. Sadly, this year I am not in tip top shape. My special moves used to be my high extensions and arabesque lines, both of which suffered immensely during my time off… So, without a real “secret weapon” it is easy to feel unprepared heading into a fairly large audition. Pointe shoes were another reason I felt unprepared. After being out of regular classes I would say that I have not even worn my pointe shoes a dozen times. So, while everyone else is whipping off a series of flawless fouetté turns, I’m just trying not to injure myself by the end of class!

It is all too easy to become obsessed with comparing my weakened technique to the other dancers who have not had a year off dance and who, unlike myself, are probably able to train several hours a day. Instead, I try to remember what I like best when I watch a ballet. Not the technique, but the artistry. The true essence of dancing!

I decided to make eye contact with the director and ballet mistress and smile at them. When I pretend like every combination is a little solo variation in a performance, and really focus on artistry, it is easier for me to conquer my nerves and to just dance my best because I am enjoying the process. That is why dancers put in all the hard work after all. We train so hard to attain technique in order for it to be second nature. Only when technique is natural are we able to forget it and just live onstage! Ballet is a performing art. Dancers dance because they love performing, not because they want mechanical technique (even though we all get caught up in that unhealthy mentality of needing absolute technical, and physical, perfection). Ultimately, it isn’t about who can do the most fouettés. If someone buys a ticket to the ballet and all they see is fouettés then I do believe they would be bored after a few minutes. There is a reason why dramatic story ballets such as Swan Lake and Giselle have survived so long and are still so loved. There are many elements that go into these great ballets. Yes, to perform Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, you do need a certain level of technique, but you also need artistry. You need to be able to act and convey emotion. To tell a story.

So, I tried my best to just enjoy dancing during the audition. It was a time I had to trust that my training and technique would come through as I enjoyed performing. I had an audience after all! Not the time to be obsessing over one pirouette that didn’t go as well as planned. Things always go wrong while dancing. It is good to learn to move on quickly from a tiny mistake and focus on making the whole dance or combination look its best! That is the tactic I chose while auditioning. It is also something I will continue to practice in the future.

Check back again soon for updates on my final audition next week. Also coming soon will be a “What’s in my dance bag” post! I’m going to share tips on some items that help me prepare for class and a few items to have on hand in case of a performance emergency!

Thanks for visiting!




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