Best Ways to Prepare for Your College Dance Audition

By on September 15, 2015

EDU_audition_MAINThis fall many dancers will be auditioning at college campuses across the country. That’s because almost every dance department requires an audition for admittance. Remember that you must get accepted at the college as well as to the dance program – it is a duel process. This applies to majors and non-majors alike. This is an important and scary process. Preparation is key to having confidence in the audition process.


Auditions usually take all day. Most likely the day will start with a ballet class. Some schools make a cut right after that class, but not all. Rhonda Miller says she doesn’t make a cut because of poor ballet technique because she is looking for lots of different kinds of dancers, but don’t count on that everywhere. After the ballet class, there might be a modern, jazz, or hip-hop class, depending on the program. Then, usually cuts are made. If you get through all of that, you are usually asked to do a solo, and maybe a one-on-one interview.

When preparing your solo, remember this is not a competition, it’s an audition. Here are some tips from the professionals:

  • Perform in the genre you excel. Don’t do a pointe piece if you are not proficient on pointe.
  • Hire a choreographer to craft your piece. Be well-rehearsed and confident.
  • Don’t do tricks. Remember you are showing off who you are as a dancer, not what feats you can perform.
  • Make sure your costume is appropriate for the choreography and your body type. 


This is really important. Most students are not well prepared for the audition process. You will really stand out if you do your homework and come ready to dance.

Audition day:

  • Allow extra time to come to the audition – especially if you are not familiar with the school or area. There is nothing worse than coming in late or being rushed and flustered.
  • Bring every dance shoe that you own.
  • Be sure you know the dress code for each class – this is usually spelled out in the pre-audition material.
  • Look professional – make sure your hair, makeup and dance wear are appropriate for the classes. Bring many changes of clothes and hair accessories so you will look right.
  • Don’t look bored at the audition – even if you are – look like you want to be in the room. Don’t lean against the wall or barre or sit down at any time. Watch your body language. Crossed arms, hands on hips all send signals of boredom.
  • Be sure you are open to anything that is given to you at the audition.

Don’t be surprised if you don’t know if you are in or not once the day is done. Remember, you have to be accepted in the university first, before the dance department can also accept you. Then you are eligible for scholarships and financial aid. But do that homework and read all your applications at the same time. Be ready to apply for those sought after scholarships and financial aid packages as soon as you know you are in.

One last caveat: When you left your dance studio to go to college you may have been the “best dancer.” So, it will probably be a shock to your system when you discover you are a freshman with many “best dancers.” Open your mind, your body and your soul and learn from everything around you. Let go of that “best dancer” thing as fast as you can.

Read more of Susan’s articles on Dance Pathways!

About Susan Esptein

Susan was born into the dance world, and at an early age worked in her family dance retail business, Taffy’s. She studied dance and began performing at a young age. Susan earned a BFA in Dance from SMU and did graduate work at Case Western Reserve University. After a NYC dance career, Susan joined the family business full time. In that role she is credited with introducing several innovative products and services, building the business and then selling it to Capezio. Susan then became an industry marketing and merchandising consultant. She is a past president of The United Dance Merchants of America and is the founder of the UDMA Dance Resource and Costume Show, and directed it for over 20 years. Susan continues her interest in dance and dance products, consulting with industry leaders and guiding them to new opportunities. Currently she is developing seminars and blogs focused on dance colleges and careers – with the goal of educating dancers of the many pathways their training can take them from performing and teaching to community engagement, and from business and entrepreneurial ventures to dance therapy and healing.

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