Tips & Advice

How to navigate the holding room at auditions

Audition Waiting Room
Dancers at Broadway Dance Center. Photo by Belinda Strodder.

Auditions are stressful. You’ve got to think on your feet, focus on every detail of choreography and show off flawless technique, all while exuding confidence. That’s easier said than done, especially when you’re up for a dream job. And even more nerve-wracking than the audition studio is the holding room…where you might be waiting for hours before your audition or in between cuts. You can’t control all that goes on during the audition itself — you don’t know what the combination will be, how long you’ll have to learn it or how many times you’ll get to perform it in front of the creative team. But, the good news is that you can control how you experience the dreaded holding room. Here’s our advice on how to prepare for and be present in the holding room so that you’ll be cool, calm and collected when you step in to the audition studio.

#1. Bring something to help you zone out and de-stress.

Listen to music or a podcast, or stick your nose in a good novel. Make sure to pay attention when the monitor is speaking to the room, but going inward will help reduce anxiety, keep you productive and prevent you from listening in on or comparing yourself to the other dancers in the room.

#2. Don’t gossip

You never know who in the room might be listening and pass on your two cents to the wrong person. This industry is smaller than you think, and it’s much easier to clean up a double pirouette than a bad reputation.

#3. Try to plan out your day with flexibility. 

Easier said than done…especially when you have other auditions, side hustles and commitments on your schedule. But having a flexible schedule will reduce your stress if the audition runs longer than you had expected or if you’re asked to come back later in the day. If you’re working a side job, try to find one where you only work weekends and evenings or where you have a good group of colleagues who will cover one another’s shifts if something comes up last minute.

#4. Respect the room. 

Use common sense and be mindful of all of your auditioning peers. Keep yourself and your belongings contained. Don’t bring smelly food or spray a ton of hairspray in a poorly-ventilated studio. If you chat with your friends, try not to be too loud. Make sure there’s a navigable path for dancers to walk up to the monitor’s table and to enter/exit the studio without tripping. Don’t talk when the monitor is calling the next group to go in the room. These all sound like obvious signs of respect, but you’d be surprised how few dancers actually follow them.

#5. Hold on to your valuables

Holding rooms are notorious hot spots for theft. We’ve heard stories of stolen wallets, cell phone chargers, headphones and even LaDuca dance shoes! When you go into the audition studio, it’s usually okay to bring a tiny bag with your valuables. Or, ask a friend who stays in the holding room to keep a close eye on your belongings while you’re auditioning. Nothing is worse than being cut at an audition only to find your wallet was stolen.

#6. Exude good energy

You don’t have to literally cheer on every dancer in the holding room, but don’t boast about being kept/scoring a callback or pout about getting cut. Humility, professionalism and a good attitude tell more about a dancer than the most beautiful technique in the world.

Do you have any other advice for how to keep sane in an audition holding room?  Let us know in the comments section below.

By Mary Callahan of Dance Informa.

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