Mimi Tompkins – Audition Tips

Having just gone through the audition process with the National Ballet of Canada, I kind of have auditioning on my mind. Any audition can be very stressful, but they are a key part of  a dancer’s career and training. Whether the audition is for a summer program, school, or company there are many things you can do to prepare and show yourself in the best possible way.

I did my very first summer course audition when I was twelve. I had little exposure to the pressures of auditioning, so I went in simply to take class and see how it went. To my surprise, I came out being offered a full scholarship to Houston Ballet’s summer intensive. Looking back, I feel that the key to my success was that I was neither nervous nor had any pressure. As I got older, I understood the importance of these auditions, but knowing that staying calm and relaxed allowed me to dance better, I used this knowledge to help me through other auditions. Even though some dancers claim they perform better under pressure, I believe the majority are able to perform better when they are stress free and calm.

stretch for a least an hour beforehand, eat well, and have a good night’s sleep

Some key things I have learned from auditioning through my student life and early career:

  • You have to show you are attentive.
  • Make sure to learn the combinations.
  • Listen to the teachers.
  • Be respectful to the other dancers present.
  • Present yourself in the best way possible:  have neat hair, a leotard you feel comfortable in, and nice shoes.
  • If you feel good, you will dancer better.
  • Stay relaxed.

Andrea Yannoni, Administrative manager of San Francisco Ballet School told me a few things that she looks for when on audition tours.

“My eye goes directly to the dancers who look the most presentable. Definitely no hairpieces (no flowers)! We also prefer modest leotards, clean pointe shoes, and proper hair.”

Company auditions are also about showing yourself as an artist, rather than a student. From student to professional is a large leap. Although you want to present yourself in an academic way, you also want to show your artistry and ability to be a professional.

Before an audition, to help me get into my optimal state of mind, I listen to music on my headphones, stretch for a least an hour beforehand, eat well, and have a good night’s sleep. Prepare yourself the best you can and then remember,  the rest is up to your dancing ability and what the teachers and directors are looking for!

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