By Becky Dimock / Edited by Samantha Bellerose, B.Ed, Dip.Dance (Performing Arts)
If you are a parent of a dancer who is in the midst of choosing colleges, then you will know how much researching, preparation, and planning has gone on before an actual dance audition for a college even occurs!
Therefore when audition day arrives, you will definitely want to try and give your dancer the best chance they have on the day of nailing their audition and doing the best they can to get that coveted acceptance letter.
Hi, I’m Becky and my senior recently auditioned for several Colleges in the USA to obtain entry as a Dance major or minor.
We had a variety of different Audition processes to undergo and being a stickler for spreadsheets and being prepared I am here to share our process with you to successfully survive and thrive through the college application process with your dancer.
In this three-part series, I give you all the tips and tricks that we learned throughout our process.
For tips and advice on preparing a video application process check out my article 9 College Dance Video Audition Tips From a Dance Mom or for information on how to prepare for a college dance audition check our Best Mom Tips – How to Prepare for a College Dance Audition
But if your dancer is doing an in-person audition, stick around and read on about our experience and the top tips and advice I would definitely tell myself if we were to go through the experience again.
1. Learn About What to Expect at an In-Person Audition
Every college and school is different, but the audition will typically be held on campus.
It will likely consist of a class, such as ballet, in the morning, a break for lunch, followed by a second class, such as contemporary, in the afternoon.
Some colleges also require a self-choreographed solo, an interview with faculty, or an on-the-spot essay.
Most colleges limit their audition requirements to a single day, meaning you generally only needed to attend for one day but may have an additional session in the afternoon for a callback.
Most colleges will give you information on how their auditions will proceed, but if they don’t or if you miss out on that information make sure you call or email them to ask.
2. Organise How To Get To the Audition
Your dancer will most likely be auditioning for colleges that are not nearby your home unless you are lucky enough to live nearby.
This means you will need to plan flights, accommodation, or a road trip to the college.
Once you know what to expect at the audition from tip #1, then you will be able to make arrangements around this.
We were able to drive to my daughter’s auditions, some were several hours from our home and so we needed to make various arrangements to be able to get to the colleges on time such as leaving before dawn and in some cases staying overnight in the town of the college.
3. Who Will Attend the Audition With Your Dancer?
I was lucky enough to go with my daughter to her auditions. But you might have to decide who is going!
Will you go with your dancer or will your partner or will you both go? Will you be taking other sibilings or do you need to get a sitter? Will your dancer need to go by themselves or with other dance friends who are also applying for the college?
If your dancer is auditioning for several colleges, it might not be within your budget to be able to go with them each time, or you may not be able to take time off work or have issues with sitters for your other children.
4. Plan and Learn so you Know WHERE to go on the day
There’s nothing worse than running late for an audition, and your dancer doesn’t need the added stress of getting lost.
So if it’s possible, scope out the audition location beforehand or aim to leave much earlier on the day than you might normally.
Drive to the building, figure out where to park, and find the audition room. Most colleges are sprawling complexes that consist of their own roads, separate buildings, various car parks and even have campuses on different sides of town! It is important to make sure you know where you are going and not just wing it on the day!
If you can’t drive there, at least plan your route, all the way to the door of the correct building on campus.
Work backward from the audition time noting the time it will take to walk to the building, park, drive their, and even for traffic.
Another idea is to download and print out a campus map, mark the building your dancer needs to go to, and mark possible parking locations as well.
5. Be Ready to Walk Out The Door The night Before
Do not leave it until the morning to prepare and get everything ready. The night before make sure everything is prepared so that when you get up you only have to shower, get dressed and have breakfast, and leave!
The afternoon before the audition, make sure your dancer has prepared everything for the following day, including warmups, dance clothes (and backups!), snacks/lunch, water bottle, tape/bandages, a book, or something to do if they have to wait, and a charger for their device.
If your dancer has a prepared solo, make sure the music is downloaded on their device.
Print out the audition day schedule so your dancer can bring it along – this can be important especially if your dancer is doing several auditions so they don’t get confused between them.
Reread the requirements and double-check that your dancer has anything extra that the school asked for (headshot, resume, etc).
Make sure that they get to bed at a reasonable time and make sure that multiple alarms are set so you’re not rushed in the morning.
To help your morning go smoothly, consider preparing breakfast ahead of time, such as overnight oats.
One last thing we often do not think about is making sure we have already filled the car with gas the night before, stopping off to fill up can be really annoying and put everyone off schedule. Or if you are out of town make sure you have booked a Taxi or Uber in advance or have printed out the public transport route and times.
6. Follow the Dress Code or Dress Appropriately for Dance Class
If you have printed the audition schedule, you and your dancer should know which audition class comes first and dress accordingly, following the dress code.
Some colleges will specify what they want auditionees to wear generally a leotard, tights, and ballet shoes with notes about things like ballet skirts, leg warmers, etc… But this will depend on the classes being taken in the audition.
If there isn’t a dress code, have your dancer dress like they would for a dance exam or a master class.
They may be allowed to wear things like a skirt, loose top or track or yoga pants and leg warmers to warm up in or for the contemporary section of the audition, but most likely they will be asked to take all of those layers off for the ballet portion of the audition.
7. Help Coach your Dancer for their Audition!
You are going to want to help your dancer in any way you can for their audition so if you are looking for some tips you can pass on to them in the days leading up to the audition or even on the drive there, here are some nuggets of advice you can leave them with:
- During the audition, listen carefully, apply any corrections given to any auditionee, and maintain a performance presence.
- You’re being watched even when you think you’re not! Even admin staff for courses are sometimes more involved in the whole process than you know, or whose office is behind the windows where you are stretching? So even when you are getting ready in the hallways be kind, respectful and courteous.
- You are more likely to be remembered if you are at the beginning or end so….
- Be willing to go first, and give it your all the whole time.
- After the audition, thank the adjudicators and accompanist, and take your time to cool down.
- Maintain a good attitude at all times.
- If you feel like things went badly, WAIT until you’re in your own car, hotel room or off the college campus and out of view and earshot of anyone associated with the audition to say anything! You never know who that person sitting behind you at the local restaurant or bus may be!
8. Parents Should Kiss and Go!
It’s fine for you to drive your child to the audition. You can even walk them in the building and help them find the check-in desk!
But do not ask or even assume you can go in and watch! The audition day schedule should tell you what time to be back to collect your dancer, so let your dancer check-in right away, get warmed up, and find a quiet place to relax and think positive thoughts.
This is a college audition, and you cannot dance for your child anyway, so make sure you have some other activities lined up for yourself whilst your dancer is in their audition to keep your mind busy.
Some activities you could do might be:
- Read a good book
- Go to the movies
- Go shopping
- Get your hair or nails done
- Go sightseeing if you are out of town
- Do a fun activity you might not ordinarily do – ice skate, rock climbing center, swimming pools
- Catch up on a podcast
- Do an online course
9. Be Patient for The Results
If your dancer is anxious, it’s OK for them to write a professional-sounding email to the adjudicators, thanking them for the opportunity to audition, but they should not inquire about results until after the period of time specified.
When your dancer does get their results if they made it in – congratulations! Celebrate your dancer for all their hard work!
If they didn’t make it in, they should respond to the school and thank them for their time.
It would also be fine to ask for corrections, although the school may or may not respond to the request.
Help your dancer understand that it might not be anything they did wrong, but they might have a different style than the school is looking for.
Always remember, when one door closes it means that the journey wasn’t meant for you, and another one will open when the timing is right!
There are so many colleges look at our article Dance Colleges Across All 50 States: The Ultimate List with Links where you are sure to find the perfect match! And if not start looking into associate degrees in dance as many of these are run by community colleges and can lead to acceptance at a later stage into a degree course.