Audition Video Tips!

Hey Dancers! Audition season will soon be upon us! Are you prepared with updated materials that represent your artistry, technique, and range? We know that filming an audition video can be frustrating and take more time than you expect. Often, you have to recruit another person to help with filming and even then, you don’t love the final product; something is always off. We hear you! As former and current professional dancers, we’ve been there. So we’ve put together a list of our most helpful tips for filming an audition video. Directors and choreographers are looking to video to evaluate a dancer for an audition, role, or callback, so it’s more important than ever to have good quality video. Check out our tips below to look your best!

  • Picking a variation: Choose a variation that you can perform well 3-4 times in a row. You will be filming a few versions to pick the best one, so you need to have the stamina to make each take be better than the previous one! Also consider that the variation should show your range as an artist and technician. Any strengths you have- pirouettes, extensions, jumps, feet, legs, porte de bras, etc- should be highlighted within the first few moments of the variation. Don’t make them wait and lose attention before you do something impressive. 
  • Studio Booking: Find and rent proper studio space that shows you in good lighting. Reserve more studio time than you think you need. We always book 4 hours and often use all of the time. 
  • Lighting is important! We need to be able to see you and your body lines well and clearly. Your face should be well lit and visible, too. 

  • Height of the camera: Cell phones and camera lenses that are 50mm or smaller in focal length are what we call wide angle lenses. They have many wonderful applications in many facets of photography and video, but can sometimes make the body look distorted. When you’re filming a video, it’s so important that you look your best in both your dancing and how you look on the 2D screen that your video will be viewed on. Wide angle lenses tend to distort around the perimeter of the frame, so it is best to make sure that you have somebody behind the camera making sure that you always stay in the middle of the frame to avoid and distortion or skewing of the body in the video! It is also best to have the camera around hip height. The further back you go, the higher you can film, but we have found hip height to be the easiest way to capture the whole body and have your proportions look correct.
  • To Tutu or Not To Tutu?: We say it’s up to you. If wearing a tutu will help your performance quality and helps you embody the character, then go for it. If the tutu is too large, covers and hides leg lines, and/or inhibits your movement, then consider opting out of the tutu. A skirt, one that isn’t too big or distracting, can be a good alternative.
  • Flatten the variation: Spacing is so key to how you will appear on screen. Take the variation much flatter than you would do it in real life. Remember, the camera doesn’t pick up depth well; it’s a two dimensional screen. You are dancing in a three dimensional space, so you need to compensate for the difference between the two. Considering that you will only be able to use a portion of the studio space to remain in frame, you will already need to flatten your spacing. 
  • Dynamic Quality: this really shows through when you rehearse your variation for not only technique, but face, artistry, emotions, performance and DYNAMIC quality!
  • Music Copyright: beware that some music will be muted if you do not have the copyright to use it for your video. However, if you keep the link private and only those who you share the link with can view it, then there is no problem. If for some reason, your video link absolutely needs to be public, worst case is that your variation plays in silence.
  • DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! Absolutely do not wait until the last minute to do an audition video. Learn the variation well, train it with a teacher or coach, and run it consistently once a day (at best) or a few times per week (at the least). Prepare with enough time to shoot it properly once you have the stamina. You cannot get into auditions without good and complete materials! Companies are getting more and more strict about this every year.

Rachel Neville coaching a dancer for an audition video shot in a ballet studio

  • Class Combinations: For class portions, know your strengths and be confident in showing them off! As for combination sequences, make sure you show range in transitions, dynamics, accents and speeds. 
  • International Audition Pre-Selection Guidelines (IAP): Created in 2017, the IAP Guidelines were put in place to standardize pre-audition application materials. Currently, over 25 international professional ballet companies and professional ballet schools have endorsed the IAP Guidelines including: American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, San Francisco Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, and more. Since not all companies are following the same guidelines, make sure you know which materials you need to prepare! The International Audition Pre-Selection Guidelines are as follows:
    • a video with no introduction or fancy editing
    • women in leotard and tights, men in tight fitting dance attire
    • A short classical variation chosen from the standard repertoire, women on pointe
    • A short contemporary variation chosen from repertoire, classwork phrases, or self-choreography that illustrates the dancer’s range of movement different from your classical variation
    • 3-5 minutes of barre work done on both sides; women on pointe, men wearing soft shoes 
    • 3-5 minutes of centre work that includes adagio, pirouettes, petit and grand allegro; women on pointe
    • CV, headshot, and 2-3 dance photos that show dancer’s body proportions and lines
  • Videographer: Pick a videographer/team to shoot you that has sufficient knowledge of your variation, proper technique, and good leg lines. If you need tips or more help with this, call us today for information about a booking. Our team members were professional dancers and have extensive teaching and coaching experience.

Tune into our Instagram Live with Jess Spinner and The Whole Dancer on September 4th at 11am where we will announce a winner to get 50% off an audition video shoot! Comment on this blog post or one of our IG posts with a question you’d like to have answered to enter. We’ll announce your name in the live and you’ll have until the end of the live to claim your prize!

Renee Lee

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