“On what planet would a “non-dancer” willingly walk into a dance audition?”
It seems like asking for punishment.
Well, in musical theater, opera, even marching bands and other performing arts it happens a lot. Actors, vocalists, musicians, and other performers often find themselves in performance situations where some dancing will be required.
If this is exactly your predicament, you may be asking yourself how, as a self-proclaimed non-dancer, you can possibly look competent in a dance situation. Fortunately, we have some dance tips just for you.
Ways Actors Can Defeat the Dreaded Dance Audition
Some preparation will be physical and some mental, but there are a few things you can do to feel less like a fish out of water while dancing. Decide how much of your time and resources you want to put into your movement self-improvement and then go for it!
Stop calling yourself a non-dancer.
You may be an inexperienced dancer, or an untrained dancer, but you are NOT a non-dancer. There’s no such thing.
Humans move and dance by nature. Even if you can’t remember the last time you busted any kind of move, I guarantee that as a child, you danced. It will serve you well to remember that at one time, even before you were skilled in walking (let alone dancing), moving brought you joy.
Take a dance class.
Any dance class with a good teacher will do. Forget “natural” ability. Things like movement retention, strength, agility, flexibility… these skills get better with practice over time. Where better to practice than in a regular class?
Work it out.
Staying fit will help your dancing. Add daily stretching to your routine for better range of motion. Add regular cardio so that a little movement doesn’t leave you breathless. Add some strength-training — even simple dance movements require a surprising amount of strength and agility.
Clap, tap, snap, or shoo-bop-a-whap a beat.
There are people who can clap a beat but have trouble keeping in time when movement complicates things. Challenge yourself. Start with a clap (choose a variety of music tempos and styles). Can you add a tap of the foot? Clap rhythms while you march around the room? Notice the space between each beat. Can you fill this space by making the movement of your claps and taps bigger (or smaller)? Don’t worry how you look — focus on the beat. Can you ‘tap’ with your elbow? Your head? Other body parts? Multiple body parts at the same time? Look at you! You’re dancing.
More tips on improvising movement when you’ve never it before.
Look for patterns in choreography.
Just like composers, choreographers use repetition, dynamics, and rhythms to create sentences, or phrases of movement. Whenever you watch dance, keep an eye out for patterns. When you learn or practice choreography, make mental notes. In simple choreography, I guarantee you’ll find that things tend to happen in sets of 2, 4, and 8.
Observe the movements of daily life.
Great performers are often great observers of human behavior, able to apply their what they see to their own performance. Become a movement investigator. Watch carefully the way others gesture, shift their weight from one hip to another, swat a fly, react when they bump into something. Note it and when you’re alone, try it on. The ability to copy another person’s movement is essential to dance.
Relax and leave inhibitions and apologies at the door.
By the time an audition or that first rehearsal rolls around, you’re as prepared as you’re going to be.
Never apologize (verbally or visibly) for your lack of dance experience. And don’t compare yourself to anyone else. It’s unnecessary. You’ve been moving all your life so just do your best and let YOU shine through.
Guess what, “real dancers” often need this reminder too. You are not alone.
More helpful dance audition advice:
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world. Read Nichelle’s posts.