Auditions–I've done them at every stage. I prayed my way through auditions for Sugar Plum, summer intensives and BFA programs. You'd think I would have this down to a science! But after all my experience, I've found that I'm still always in for a surprise. Company auditions are a new venture. It's a completely different setting. Repertoire is unpredictable and the competition is feisty.

 

Last weekend, I went to the Mark Morris Dance Group audition, just for kicks. I've always had a soft spot for his work, so I saw it as an opportunity to take class from a master (he was unfortunately not there). About 60 pre-registered women filed into a room at the studios in Brooklyn hoping to snag one of two open spots (there were several audition sections through the day and my number was in the 300s).

 

Here are my tips for your students who may be prepping for professional company auditions:

 

  1. Be active: Don't be shy! Ask questions and stand where you'll be seen. Of course, this is within reason. Being too eager or disrespectful is never attractive.
  2. Do your homework: Check out clips of the company if you don't know their movement style. Find out what they have been or will be performing. There's a good chance that they will teach phrases they are currently familiar with.
  3. Warm-up, for real: SI and college auditions almost always begin with class. Don't ever assume the same for companies. We went straight into choreography and learned three different phrases from the company's rep.
  4. Dress appropriately: One girl walked in with ballet shoes on and a MMDG dancer called her out on it. If she had done step number two, she would have known that the company usually dances barefoot. I also saw many outfits that were too baggy for this classical modern audition. When you look the part, you become the part.
  5. Keep auditioning: Don't get discouraged. The company is also auditioning you. It may come to the point of someone fitting into an old costume. Keep on trucking–the more you practice, the calmer you will feel.
The Conversation
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Photo courtesy of Hightower

The beloved "So You Think You Can Dance" alum and former Emmy-nominated "Dancing with the Stars" pro Chelsie Hightower discovered her passion for ballroom at a young age. She showed a natural ability for the Latin style, but she mastered the necessary versatility by studying jazz, ballet and other forms of dance. "Every style of dance builds on each other," she says, "and the more music you're exposed to, the more your rhythm and coordination is built."

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As a teacher at a studio, you've more than likely developed long-lasting relationships with some of your students and parents. The idea that you could be sued by one of them might seem impossible to imagine, but Insure Fitness Group's Gianna Michalsen warns against relaxing into that mindset. "People say, 'Why do I need insurance? I've been working with these people for 10 years—we're friends,'" she says. "But no one ever takes into account how bad an injury can be. Despite how good your relationship is, people will sue you because of the toll an injury takes on their life."

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New York City is a dream destination for many dancers. However aspiring Broadway stars don't have to wait until they're pros to experience all the city has to offer. With Dance the World Broadway, students can get a taste of the Big Apple—plus hone their dance skills and make lasting memories.

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Q: I'm trying to think of ways to maximize studio space and revenue during the summer. What has worked for you?

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