So you’re running a choreography audition, eh? That’s exciting! That means you’re either putting on your own show or you’re a prominent member of a production team!
While running a choreography audition can be super fun, it’s also a lot of work that requires some preparation on your part.
Figure out the parameters.
You need to figure out how many performers you’re casting. Will all the performers need to have the same dance ability or can some be less skilled or have less experience than others?
How many people will you be auditioning at once? How much time do you have with them?
Plan your combination.
You’re going to want to have your auditioners perform certain skills and movements at the audition that you know will be required of them in the show. This means making one or several combinations (depending on time) for you to teach them during the audition.
The skill level of your combination should match the skill level of what you’ll be expecting of the performers. For example, if you don’t need the performers to be able to kick their foot as high as their head, don’t put that in the audition combination! Or if you’d like to see if you have that option but it isn’t a mandatory move, put it in the combination, and provide the option for auditioners to challenge themselves to reach for that move or provide an alternative option.
I’ve made combinations where the last eight counts are completely different depending on the skill level auditioners label themselves as. I use this technique when I’m casting dancers in a musical – combination ending A involves marching and arms movements to fill in the chorus positions, combination ending B involves pirouettes and sauters to fill in the dancer positions.
Practice teaching your combo.
It’s hard to teach dance combinations. It’s hard to teach them fast and to a lot of people. But that’s likely what you’re going to have to do in your choreography audition, so practice before you get there! Figure out what you really want to emphasize, what hits or textures you really want the performers to understand in order for you to appropriately assess them.
Lay out your expectations at the audition.
You get to set the tone of the audition process. Let people know what you expect from them, what you’re looking for, and what the audition process is going to look like. For me, this usually means putting peoples’ minds to rest so they can get comfortable and perform better.
Know what you’re looking for.
It’s all well and good if you find a fabulous dancer who can turn and jump and do all the tricks, but if your show calls for emotional depth and this fabulous dancer doesn’t have it, then you might not be able to use them.
That’s why it’s important for you to go into the audition knowing what you’re looking for, what are your priorities, and what things you’re willing to compromise on. You don’t want to end up with a cast of people who are talented at the wrong things for your show.
Take note of what people are wearing so you can match a name to a person, note what skills they’re good at and what’s lacking, note who draws your eye, who doesn’t do well in the front row but thrives in the second row, who has a good attitude, who takes corrections well. You’re watching for everything and you’re writing everything down.
Watch the combination as many times as you need to.
For some groups, you might need to only watch them a couple times and you’ve figured out who you want. For others, you might need to try them in different groupings, different rows, give them different cues. But try not to rush yourself through the process (bearing in mind that you might have a schedule to stick to) and watch the auditioners over and over again. Let them feel like they had a chance to show you their stuff to the best of their abilities.
- What Makes Good Choreography
- How to Run a Decent Choreography Rehearsal
- How to Choreograph a Group Routine
Running a choreography audition can be so much fun. You get to teach your creation, you get to meet new people, and you get to share a passion for the arts with a room full of like-minded people.
Just make sure that you arrive at the audition prepared and with your brain warmed up to do some heavy work because you’ve got an important job ahead of you.
Enjoy the journey,
Have you checked out 5, 6, 7, 8! The Beginner’s Guide to Choreography? Click here to learn more.