Let’s Talk About Virtual Auditions

Summer Program audition season has begun! While this period brims with the excitement of pursuing new adventures, it can also amass a bit of stress and anxiety. Putting yourself out there is daunting, for sure, and the unfamiliarity of navigating this process online may raise your blood pressure even more than usual this year…

How do I prepare for a virtual audition?
How am I supposed to get noticed through a screen?
Will I even be seen in the sea of Zoom boxes? 

Don’t fret! We asked three of our faculty members – Karah, Keelan, and LeeWei – to share their top tips for approaching virtual auditions. They are members of the team teaching and adjudicating our LINES Day workshops, one of three methods for auditioning for the 2021 Summer Program. Replacing the Summer Program’s typical national audition tour, LINES Day workshops are scheduled throughout January and February in a wide range of global time zones. These six-hour experiences not only give our faculty a chance to thoroughly connect with prospective students (students are evaluated over the course of the entire workshop), but also allow students to get a true taste of the online curriculum through classes in ballet, LINES repertoire, and contemporary/improvisation. In other words, dancers get to audition the program while auditioning!

What are your do’s and don’ts for attending a virtual audition? 

Karah Abiog | © Quinn B. Wharton

Karah Abiog, Summer Program and Training Program Director:
✓ Do mentally and physically prepare for the day. Mentally focus. Physically warm up.
✓ Do create a safe space with the ability to stretch your limbs in all directions and use appropriate footwear for the floor.
✓ Do make sure your name is properly titled and sound is muted.
✓ Do keep your camera on and place it so that your entire body can be seen in the frame. Ideally, your space is well lit and with minimal clutter in the background. 
✓ Do wear tasteful, fitted dancewear that does not blend into your background with neat hair away from the face.

X Don’t enter late.
X Don’t wait until the last minute to check the internet connection and Zoom link. Check that your internet connection is stable ahead of time and log in early with the given Zoom link in case any issues arise.
X Don’t interrupt when you have a question or something to say, rather raise your hand or ask in the chat.
X Don’t mark or be careless with your movement and participation because you think you cannot be seen. You are definitely seen.

How can dancers make a connection with the audition teachers, even through a screen?

Karah Abiog, Summer Program and Training Program Director:
For a dancer to feel connected to the faculty/directors, it is similar to being in the studio. Be invested in the work presented (movement, image, task, idea…) and stay scrupulous and curious with one’s own work – physically, mentally, creatively. Allowing oneself to embody the work allows the work to go further and deeper, and this creates connection. The teacher then has substance to work with and can encourage the next idea. Reciprocity. 

LeeWei Chao | © Andy Mogg

LeeWei Chao, Faculty Member:
In order to connect with teachers and directors, you need to connect with yourself; that includes learning the combo and finding a way to connect with the movement yourself. 

Take responsibility for learning the musicality of the movement. Just because this is in a virtual format does not mean you should care about these things any less than if you were auditioning in person. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You are unable to see other dancers clearly through this virtual format, and that means if you don’t remember the combination, there’s nobody to look to. So ask when you need it. You will also gain a clearer picture that will aid in understanding and fully embodying the movement. 

Keelan Whitmore, Faculty Member and former LINES Ballet Dancer:
Always have your journal or notepad nearby. Jot anything down that resonates with you. Send any questions that may arise in the group chat. 

Don’t be afraid to give your perspective if/when asked. This helps the teacher get to know your thought process and depth of understanding. 

Always keep your camera on. It helps to know that the student is undivided in their attention when their video is on. Try not to leave the meeting unless it is an emergency. If it is, send a private message to the teacher or to the school notifying them of what’s going on and your needs.

Keelan Whitmore leading a LINES Repertoire class:

How can dancers increase their chances of standing out in a virtual format?

Karah Abiog, Summer Program and Training Program Director:
In order to literally stand out on the screen, it is helpful to have good lighting and a simple background, and making sure your entire body can be seen in the frame, but also with the choice of dancewear. 

However, the best way to truly be seen is by having courage and diving deep into the information that is given. Whether it is receiving a combination, task or correction, it is imperative to really do the work and try to execute the idea behind what is being asked. A teacher/director can honestly see when a dancer is listening, thinking, investigating, taking risks, trying something different, and that draws the attention of the teacher/director.

LeeWei Chao, Faculty Member:
Recognize the difference in yourself from the other dancers. What is the best part of you? Why do you love dancing? Bring that out. 

Find your own voice. Be honest. Show your potential. Show yourself.

Keelan Whitmore | © RJ Muna

Keelan Whitmore, Faculty Member and former LINES Ballet Dancer:
Listen to what is being asked and try your best to apply that information as soon as possible with enthusiasm, availability, curiosity, and commitment. Offer everything that you have at that moment!  

Physicalize everything (especially the upper body!) as you are learning new material. Don’t mark it and expect to understand it when you are later asked to share. Let your exploration be just as important, if not more important, than when it is time to share. 

Make clear statements about what you think the movement is. 

Bring all of you to the moment.

Faculty interviews conducted by Ashley Cook, a Fall 2020 LINES Ballet intern.
Photos: © Rob Kunkle/GoodLux Photography, Quinn B. Wharton, Andy Mogg, RJ Muna.