Audition Tips: What to Wear Pt. 2 Remember Your Body

We talked in the last post about choosing your styling options based on two key questions: A) Who is your target audience, and B) What personality and  performing traits you most wish to convey.

Now, we are ready for the next two parts of the What to Wear question: C) What actually looks good on you and shows your body to the best advantage? and D) What type of garments actually shoot well??

Rachel Neville Dance Photography Tips What to Wear

Keep these points in mind when you are gathering your wardrobe for your audition photo shoot:

Show off your best physical attributes.  This seems like a no brainer right?  But do you stop to look in the mirror before every class to see if your legs look as long as they could in the length of tight and the leg cut of the leotard you chose that day?

Do you stop to check to see before you buy that unitard, tank top or funky leotard, that your shoulders look like they balance out the width of your  hip area?

Look in the mirror and scrutinize objectively what you see.  For example, avoid buying (or bringing to your shoot) a halter style leotard or shirt if you have shoulders much wider than your hips; this will only accentuate it.

Leotards Audition Photo tips Rachel Neville Photography

Avoid really great costumes that may be eye catching but cover up too much of, or detract from looking at, your body. Directors want to see what you look like.

Make sure the garments that you choose are easily able to be moved in.  No sense in bringing your skinny jeans if they are going to split the first time you jump into the air.

Choose fabrics carefully. Lighter fabrics tend to move with you and can often add to the movement of a shot with their own flow.  Thicker fabrics can add weight to your torso (remember those old heavy cotton leotards from the 80’s??), which is probably (but may be) what you want.  Avoid velvet.  It sucks in light; their colors don’t often photograph to true tone, and they also can add weight to your torso.

In my dancing days, we used to say Lycra leotards were better to shoot in than cotton; supposedly cotton held the light and made you look bigger. I don’t find this to be the case in my work.  I’m not sure if we are seeing better quality cottons today, but the only fabric selection I would avoid is velvet. The lace I’ve started to see in the last couple of years is pretty; just make sure it suits the ‘you’ you are trying to present.

Avoid florescent colors.  While we can photograph them and even see a good rendition of them on screen, printers can’t print this color palate well.

While on the subject of colors, avoid strong patterns and stripes in your garments.  Solid colors 80% of the time are best, but textures are always a good idea.  While this is a conversation that I could go on and on about, I think the next easy guide will help many of you most.

Rachel Neville Audition Tips leotard guide

Rachel’s Leotard Buying Guide 

  • Make sure that the cut of the leg opening is flattering to you.

If you are not sure of the height, try on several styles.  In general, you want a mid to mid/high cut to lengthen your leg the longest.  High cut legs look fine on very very slim dancers, but not on dancers with a ‘derriere’ to contend with.

  • Make sure your full po-po is covered please.
  • Make your shoulder girdle  as even in width as possible to your hip girdle.

Look for cuts that achieve this on you.  If you have very narrow shoulders, halters or turtlenecks can be nice, but probably not if you are wider.  If you have wider shoulders, wider straps often work well.

  • Be sure spaghetti straps are placed on the body of the leotard in relation to your shoulders

If you are partial to spaghetti straps (as 75% of leotards seem to be these days), look at where they are.  Avoid the ‘pouch’ of skin they sometimes create right at your armpit area.  Occasionally by moving the straps an inch further out you can not only avoid the ‘pouch’ but also balance out your body nicely.

  • Choose a neckline that flatters your actual neck.

Does the neckline choice flatter your actual neck? Very, very low v-necklines.. (sometimes cut down or pulled down by a safety pin or a few stitches) are popular with good reason… they can be slimming.  However, those dancers with very long necks  may want to look a second time to make sure their head is still in proportion to their neck and body (I was one of those with the ‘ET’ necks!)

  • Make sure that the exposed skin area is not throwing your body balance out of kilter if you are choosing a leotard with a cut out area of skin exposed (Yumiko’s are the standard here).

Do also make sure that the cut out area doesn’t have that odd effect of making you ‘waist-less’, unless you prefer to look pre-pubescent.  (an aside note:  please make sure the exposed skin area doesn’t become unattractive in different poses as you shoot.  I sometimes see this, for example, in a 4th arabesque)

ballet auditions advice Rachel Neville

In summary, I always tell my clients 2 things: when in doubt, bring many options, and when shopping, buy it, but don’t take the tags off until I look at it and see if it will work for us.   Good luck!

Audition Photos Series

This is the fifth post in our new series, Everything Dancers Need to Know About Audition Photos. Read the first installment.

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