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How Are Auditions Changing?

online auditions
By Mia Lyndon

Studio doors have been locked and bolted down, leaving face-to-face auditions cancelled without reschedule. The dance scene has been pushed far further than its melting point, yet it’s bouncing back, quickly adapting to our newly-established electric society. With schools and companies eager for income and activity, auditions are still cropping up – but they have evolved.

Gone are the days of lining up in an audition queue, perspiring before classes even commence. Covid-19 has forced us to say our goodbyes to real-life audition panels, pin-on numbers and changing-room discussions, as we now welcome a new electronic breed of auditions.

Video auditions and show reels and becoming the new normal

In a sphere where dance can only exist within our houses, auditions are being redefined, within the four walls of our living rooms. It seems that the qualities of traditional auditions are being remoulded – we are now welcoming casting calls that avoid almost all anxiety and pressure.

The current epidemic we find ourselves in is re-writing how auditions operate, with these new changes possibly here to stay. With so many adaptations, we’ll begin to see new impacts of these evolving auditions and how they could re-shape the dance industry forever.
For many schools, universities and professional companies, auditionees are now being asked to apply through the means of video auditions. Considered as perhaps the only method of assessing dancers without face-to-face contact, videos are certainly effective in getting yourself seen by an audition panel.

The issue is, auditions teach us a plentiful bounty of skills. The stress, nerves, rigor and anxiety of auditions simply cannot be replicated through a camera or phone screen – these are qualities that build both strength and character. Dancers may miss out on crucial lessons of dealing with audition apprehension and stress management, as they instead partake in auditions within the comfort of their own bedrooms.
We can all think back to a time when we have overcome waves of nausea, as we’ve stepped into an audition room. But that determination, that refusal to give-in to anxiety, is a lesson that could only have been learnt from a live audition – and it’s a skill that you’ve probably been utilising ever since. Performing to a camera in your empty living room, whilst executing audition material without apprehension, simply cannot teach the same notion. And that may begin to show.

Emptiness: Studios and performing spaces are closed, yet auditions are still in operation

University auditions, easily the anxious pinnacle of a young performer’s early career, are changing. With courses still planned to commence in September, many UK university establishments and conservatoires have recently been encouraging applicants to audition via video. As wonderful and as inclusive as this may be, it’s important to remember the lessons that will be lost and the disparities this will create. Will this and next year’s cohort be lacking vital skills, taught exclusively during live auditions?

There is another importance held within live auditions, too. An audition is always a two way street: the dancer both auditions and gets auditioned. We assess whether we like somewhere based upon our own experience, often judging a course or job based on our level of enjoyment at the audition. Frequently, you may find yourself falling in love with the website of a course or institute, only to arrive at its audition and feel entirely different. With this option snatched well out of our reach, we are limited to making judgement based on what an institute wants you to believe.

Many institutes are offering virtual tours, online seminars and online open days – but will these suffice? Trying to gauge the style, calibre, qualities and ethos of a particular institute, is now going to be made far more difficult without being able to visit in the flesh. It is now more important than ever to make decisions based on your own findings and research, without getting swayed by institutes scouting for your custom.

And auditionees perhaps aren’t the only ones getting swayed. Video auditions are adaptable – often without ridged limits on practises, timings and video takes. Panels are now having to make assessments based purely on what the auditionee wants them to see – auditionees now could have the opportunity to edit and ask for help, before submitting their applications. Naturally, applicants will have differing amounts of editing skills, house space and on-hand help, perhaps meaning that the most talented and worthy of dancers may have a disadvantage based upon who they know and who they live with.

Arguments regarding audition blunder and unfair advantages are beginning to crop up and it’s understandable. With many online auditions now consisting of so little invigilation, blagging your way into a successful audition must be halted.

Though with all these developments and newly found challenges, we must appreciate that the dance scene is changing. Rooted rigidly within its centuries-old heritage, perhaps the dance industry is finally taking a leap right out of the box. Covid-19 is forcing us into an era conducted ultimately by electronics and the internet, so the dance industry has to adhere to this. The next few years of auditioning may be faulted, flawed and stretched, but at least we are carrying on. At least the dance industry is refusing to fall.

Published in Collaboration with: Audition Quest

Audition Quest

Also by Mia Lyndon:

It’s a Condition, Not a Competition

Perfectionism: A Dancing Crisis

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