The word audition immediately strikes a nerve for many of us.
Believe me, in my senior year of high school as well as in my four years here at Juilliard, I have had a range of audition experiences. So in celebration of the upcoming semester, I would like to offer my tips for auditioning, whether that be here at Juilliard or somewhere else. My mind is very much in this exciting, heart-fluttering space that many of you are also in as I have just returned from an audition tour of Europe, and have gathered many tidbits (and photos) to share!
- Recognize and allow yourself to feel fear. The fact that you are nervous means that you are passionate, and that’s a wonderful thing! If you aren’t even a little nervous about an audition, that might mean your heart doesn’t lie there.
- If you are traveling for your audition, give yourself time to explore the surrounding city/town. Could you see yourself living in that environment? The answer to that question is just as important as how much you like the institution itself!
- Create a ritual that centers and prepares you to alleviate any nerves, physical challenges, or emotional stress. I say the word ritual in a loose sense, because it will look different for everyone. It can be as simple as having your favorite breakfast on the morning of, or taking a bubble bath on the night before. The night before my dance auditions, I like to have a cup of tea, roll out any tight muscles, and set out my favorite dance clothes for the next day. I also have a post-audition ritual of treating myself to a cookie or pastry no matter how the day goes. Whatever your ritual, take it as a reminder to be gentle and compassionate with yourself, and you will walk into and out of your audition feeling more grounded, confident, and fulfilled!
- Write a mantra to repeat to yourself in stressful moments. It may seem silly at first, but returning your mind to a simple phrase is a great way to calm the nerves and block out white noise. I made this mantra during a very intense show I performed in last year: “Everything is where it needs to be. Everything will happen how it’s supposed to happen.” I would whisper it to myself moments before the curtain went up, and now I think it as I walk into the audition room. Make one up for yourself (or steal mine) and try it.
- Recognize that you have already done the work. Many of us stress about how technical, impressive, or perfect we expect ourselves to be when we enter an audition. Instead, try to think about it as simply a celebration of you. All of the classes, lessons, rehearsals, recitals, performances, training sessions, and individual practice sessions that you have committed yourself to have led you to this moment. The fact that you are at the audition means you have worked hard and already accomplished great things. Your only job now is to put your most honest foot forward for the audition panel. Its members will see your talent, but more importantly, they will see your work.
- Rejection is more frequent than acceptance. It is a necessary part of becoming an artist, and an adult. Before and since my acceptance to Juilliard, I have been told no by many summer intensives, companies, and opportunities. It is also important to remember that all of your peers, mentors, and role models—no matter how “good” or “successful” they are—have been told no many more times than you might think. Don’t be afraid of no, and let each one ground you more into your values. The more you hear it, the less it will sting each time. It may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true!
Don’t feel bad if auditions still put a lump in your throat. I still feel like I lose my grip on reality and reason in the heat of the moment. But over many years of fumbling through auditions, I have learned how to walk in front of a table of stern-faced directors and present myself in a way that feels authentic.
My classmate once told me this wonderful thing that has never left me, and so I’ll leave you with it: “Nothing to prove, just something to offer.”
Attend a student performance on campus.