As audition season draws to a close, let’s take a look back and reflect on the process. You’ve survived the stress of filling out applications; of trying to show your stuff in front of the judges, and taking your audition shots—which, out of all of the things you fluster about during audition season, is by far the most stressful.
Taking audition pictures is quite daunting. Maybe, it’s because of the word “audition”, or that your Mom and Dad aren’t professional photographers (most aren’t), or because you think that a single snapshot can determine the outcome of your results. Whatever your reason maybe, here are some tips for next year to sooth any qualms that you may have about the process.
- IPhones are okay. You don’t need a professional photographer to take your audition shots. IPhones or any other type of camera is perfectly acceptable, as long as the photo is clear and not blurred.
- Higher is not by any means better. In your pictures (particularly arabesque), focus on clean technique rather showing off. Make sure that you are over your box on the supporting leg, with the foot pointing straight to the ground, rotated. The lifted leg should ideally be at ninety degrees, straightened, with the foot correctly shaped and not winged or sickled. Both legs should be rotated to your maximum ability and strength can allow. Remember, you are still developing as a dancer, and this picture is only a stepping-stone in your progression as you continue to train.
- Look like you do in class. In your headshot, wear minimal to no makeup with your hair slicked back in a bun. With positional pictures, wear a black leotard with clean tights and your hair again in a bun. The people at the panel want to recognize you from your pictures—they should be simple and clean rather than too glamorous and over manufactured.
- Your pictures do not atomically accept or reject you. Pictures are mainly meant to remind the judges who you are when they are making their final decisions. They primarily serve as a source of identification. Of course, you want the pictures to look your best—but if a program were to accept you solely on your photos, there would be no need for an audition! Some programs do not even require pictures. They know just from your performance at the audition if they are willing to accept you or not.
In essence, don’t sweat about audition pictures! It can be frustrating trying to get the perfect picture. But luckily, perfection as we all know is unattainable. Even some of the best principal dancers out there do not have a perfect arabesque above ninety degrees (look at the images below with Tiler Peck, Principal Dancer at New York City Ballet, and our very own Ms. Liz at eleven and sixteen years old)! Next year, approach the studio in your black leotard relaxed and confident, knowing that pictures are no biggie.
Tiler Peck in Balanchine’s Nutcracker. Photo: Paul Kolnik
– Ava Karas