Seven Tips for a Great Audition

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Joseph Schell

The first in an occasional series on life as a performer in San Francisco.

So, you've practiced those pirouettes, mastered your handstand, or finally beaten that hula hoop into submission, and it's time to get out there and strut your stuff.  Maybe you've signed up for backstage, or stared endlessly at that Cirque Du Soleil open call poster at the dance studio? Auditioning can be a harrowing experience for a veteran, and downright terrifying for a beginner.  Here are seven tips to help get you through:

1. Have your shit together 

You don't want to be that guy running in at the last minute drenched in sweat, clothes flailing, cellphone ringing, with no headshot, no resume, and no clue.  Go to bed early, set an alarm, be on time, and always, always, know what you're auditioning for.

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2. Plan on staying late

Auditions can take a long time -- painfully long.  Bring plenty of water, healthy snacks, and be sure to pack any essential medicines. If sitting around and waiting feels like a drag consider this: Only the best people were asked to stay.

3. Be nice!

Sure, it might be tempting to trip that b-boy with an attitude problem, or grind up glass and slip it into a snooty ballerina's pointe shoes, but strive to be better than that. Being nasty to your fellow performers won't make you look any better, and you could be working with these people soon. 

4. Prepare for anything

You never know what a casting director will want.  Stay open-minded about trying new things, and be honest about your skill level. For example, "I haven't done much improv, but I'm willing to give it a shot."  Also, be prepared to demonstrate any skill you've advertised. If your resume mentions you sang opera in college, have a few bars in mind. 

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Hanna Quevedo

5. Don't take it personally

I know of one Las Vegas show that lines the men up, asks them to remove their shirts, and sends the ab-less home packing. It doesn't mean they weren't talented performers or good people, they just didn't fit into that show. Auditions are about a specific company finding exactly what they are looking for. Don't let one audition be a referendum on your whole career.  Remember that your skills are still valuable, and if you keep at it, your time will come.
 
6. Bring something that makes you feel good

A teddy bear, your favorite shirt, or even music you really like, can make the trip home a lot easier. And, if you do get the part, you'll have something to celebrate with.

7. Relax, Relax, Relax

This could be all seven steps actually. If you feel your heart pounding and your arms sweating, take several slow deep breaths. Remember that you are in control of your own body, and that this is just one of many, many auditions. Now go out there and kick ass!

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