Do you hold competition or company auditions for your team? You should.
In last weeks podcast Robin talked about her company auditions and gave some great ideas on the process. This week, I'm going to talk about how we hold competition auditions and how my process is a bit different.
1. Always make them audition
This is for a multitude of reasons! Bottom line, you never want your dancers to become complacent. I have found over the years when my dancers win competitions repeatedly, they automatically know they have a place on the team. I started hearing phrases like "We don't have to work so hard, and we still win..."
Ummm, NO!! I make all my team members audition and we do cut dancers or place dancers not working hard into lower groups. Nowadays, I hear some of my strongest dancers coming to auditions and saying "I hope I make it!". It's called humble pie and everyone should have a slice.
2. Team support
Now, this may sound counterproductive to #1, but make sure everyone is supportive of each other especially the new girls trying out. During the audition process, we start with a warm up, across the floor, and end with a combo where we split the girls up into smaller groups. It's during this time you hear our girls yelling out "YES", "Great Job", "Yes Girl" when someone does an awesome move. THIS is team spirit, even our instructors will yell things to encourage the students.
We need to remember, dance isn't the only thing we teach. We also need to instill in our dancers love, respect, community and team. We always stress that when you walk into the dance room, leave everything at the door and we act and dance together. Why not start that at your audition process, and make sure everyone is cheering and lifting up each other. One of the biggest comments we receive from new students trying class or auditioning is how friendly and welcoming our students are. THIS helps with student attraction AND retention.
Make sure to always make it known how you want the girls dressed. Leotard, tights, booty shorts, sports bras, leggings, no shirts, no pants, etc. Also specify hair up, bun, etc. This helps the new students understand the studio culture as every dance studio is different.
4. Follow up assessment
This is probably the most important aspect of your audition. When we place the girls we also send out an evaluation. This allows the dancers to know what they need to work on and also why they didn't get the placement they thought they deserved.
For example, this year I had a new girl audition for the team. I am very familiar with her home studio, as I always have a bunch of dancers that transfer over every year. I know for a fact they don't put a lot of focus on the little things, like pointed feet, stretched legs, turnout, proper arm placement (yeah, I'm being facetious!). But we did notice the girl had natural turning ability, and was flexible. I know we can train her to level up to our girls, so instead of flat out saying she didn't make the team. I was confident that within the year we can get her caught up. So what we ended up doing was putting her in one of our teams as a 'trial' and told her all of the things she needed to work on to secure her spot on the team. This way we can see if the dancer really wants it or not.
Evaluations are a great way to show your dancers where they need to improve and they also are a great way not to discourage those that don't make your company or team. Make sure to always have a plan in place for those that don't make it. Recommend classes to challenge them and possible performance opportunities.
In the end what we need to keep in mind is how can we help these kids grow and become the best they can be, not only in dance but life lessons.