5 Steps to a Successful Dance Audition
By Katie Groven
Auditions are hard, scary and when you’re new to a team or program they can feel overwhelming. The best part though? They’re an opportunity to challenge yourself outside of your comfort zone and see what you’re made of.
As you head into audition season, or even if you’re not, keep these 5 tips in your back pocket to improve your mind and body for any successful performance or audition.
Step 1: Set Your Goals.
Many times you may have goals around making a certain team, be given a solo or earn a certain spot at your studio. The issue with those goals is that you don’t get the final say in making that happen. Someone sitting at a long table in front of you decides your fate. What you DO have control over is how you show up for your audition and mastering the requirements to making your desired team, group dance etc.
So, instead of going into auditions saying you want to make Varsity, ask yourself what skills you NEED to make varsity and focus on achieving that.
Do you need your splits on both sides?
Do you need a triple turn on the right and left?
How about a specific jump or skill?
Decide on those goals and create a plan to making it happen.
Step 2: Train for Your Goals.
Now that you have your goals, it’s time to train your body to get you closer to reaching them.
Strength training in your off season has a variety of benefits including getting stronger, more flexible, and increasing your endurance.
If you have goals around jumps, leaps and acro skills focus on lower body exercises like squats, glute bridges and lunges.
Want to increase turn consistency or achieve a fluid a la seconde turn set? Focus on ankle strength, quad exercises and of course, core work.
Step 3: Eat For Success
The night before an audition take the time to pack healthy snacks that include a mix of carbs, fats, protein, fruits and vegetables. There isn’t any research that supports “carb loading,” so pre audition nutrition for dancers can include a dinner with lean protein like chicken or fish, brown rice, and steamed vegetables tossed in full fat butter. Don’t eat meat? Swap in tofu and quinoa for a high protein punch.
Some simple ideas:
- Peanut butter & honey on toast
- Fruit and yogurt smoothie
- Oatmeal with almonds + milk + banana
- Cottage cheese + apple butter + crackers + fresh grapes
- Deli turkey, carrots + yogurt-fruit parfait
- Turkey and Swiss sandwich + fruit
- 3 hard boiled eggs, 2 handfuls of broccoli or brown rice and a handful of nuts
The morning of your audition focus on carbohydrates. The goal is to fill your muscles with fuel so they’re ready to perform. The best foods to focus on are fruit, whole grain toast, rice cakes and oatmeal. A great breakfast example is an English muffin with peanut butter and some pineapple or grapes on the side. The peanut butter is full of healthy fats and protein to keep you full and the English muffin pumps up your muscles and starts to boost your energy right away. Avoid sugary cereals that can lead to an energy crash later in the day.
If you have a long audition day, focus on fueling up often. It’s important to snack every couple of hours to keep energy high, even if it’s just a bite of fruit or a cheese stick and crackers. If you have a nervous stomach or know someone who does, a protein shake is the perfect way to get all of the essential nutrients needed for the day.
One of the biggest goals surrounding post audition nutrition for dancers is recovery, so the body can repair its muscles, reduce soreness and grow lean muscle mass. The best way to do this is combining protein and carbohydrates like chocolate milk, a smoothie or an apple with peanut butter. Eating within 40 minutes of activity will allow recovery to begin and increase muscle growth for dancers.
Step 4: Recovery.
Many auditions are a multiple day event which means your body is going to be sore, tired, and worn down by the end of it.
To keep your body healthy and able to perform throughout the whole audition, focus on the following:
- Number one is eating for recovery (see above)
- Hot bath with Epsom salts. You can purchase at any Target or Walgreens.
- Stretch. Lightly, and move through the stretches instead of holding them for a long time.
- Foam roll. If you have one, otherwise take a tennis or lacrosse ball and roll it across your sore muscles.
Step 5: Attitude
This step could be filled with tons of quotes about believing in yourself,” whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”. Classics like that. Instead, I’m just going to throw some hard truths at you.
Your body is a physical representation of your physical and mental health.
Marinate in that for a minute.
What you THINK, your body hears and reacts. It’s just as important as how you take care of your physical body. If you’re going to put in all of the hard work above, you have to get your mind right.
Our minds are so powerful and they create our reality. YES, we are in control of that. Dancers with much less talent make teams, get solos, achieve amazing things because they came in with a smile that lit up the room, they tried their very hardest, never gave up and believed in themselves. When presented with a new skill they said, “I will do that.” Not I’ll try, or I think I can. I will.
Coaches and teachers don’t want a cocky dancer who coasts through the season just because they can. They want someone who cares, someone who persists and someone with passion.
“Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.”
Go in to your audition believing you are capable of meeting your goals and believe that anything is possible.
Katie Groven is an ACSM certified personal trainer, holistic health coach and two time world champion dancer. She is the creator of dancer-fitness.com an online exercise database designed to transform competitive dancers into athletic powerhouses. She has combined her 25 years of dance and her expertise in fitness to empower dancers of all ages to view themselves as athletes and gives them the tools to increase their strength, endurance, injury prevention, and overall performance. Katie travels the country cross training teams and studios including Larkin Dance Studio, home to World of Dance finalists Eva Igo, Ellie and Ava Wagner and The Trilogy. When she’s not training individual dancers or teams she’s spending quality time with her husband Chris, daughters Hazel and Amelia or growing her collection of Converse shoes.
Katie is also a Doctors For Dancers specialist and regular blog contributor for More Than Dancers, The Line Up. Listen to Katie speak about simple and effective ways to strength train dancers on the Dance Boss Podcast (Ep.56) Count me in Podcast (Ep.68) and Dance Studio 411 Podcast (Ep.30)