Reflections on the Juilliard Dance Audition
Understandably, I remember my audition day quite clearly. I auditioned in Miami, as I was training at The HARID Conservatory at the time, which was located in Boca Raton. (Just a few miles up the road from Miami.) As such I woke up early and rode the train down to Miami, which conveniently dropped me off not even a quarter mile from the audition location. While walking towards the studios, I remember reflecting on how just one year ago I had made this same trip, but only instead at that time I was auditioning for the Juilliard summer program, and the stakes were comparatively small. This was the real deal. Despite this potentially overwhelming fact, I remember feeling calm and upbeat. I had been lucky to spend the summer at Juilliard for the summer intensive, so I knew the director and felt at home with the overall quality of movement that I had encountered at the school during the few weeks that I had spent there.
I arrived my traditional 30 minutes early in order to warm up, and was happy to see that a few other friends of mine from other studios were there, already getting ready. It’s always good to know that you have a few kindred spirits there by your side on a day such as audition day. The audition was no doubt the longest audition I had ever participated in, lasting a total of about five hours for me. The process started out with ballet class, which I generally feel pretty comfortable in, (be that for better or worse) and as such I didn’t fret too much about it. After ballet the first cut and largest cut was made (remember… every audition starts with a ballet class, so don't neglect those tendus!) and those of us who were called back progressed to the modern portion of the audition.
Personally I feel that the modern portion of the audition is a portion in which you have a chance to really set yourself apart from the group. The key here is that the musical accents and movement phrases are structured differently than they are in ballet, so by having the confidence to really go for it when performing the modern combinations can really show off your confidence and commitment as a dancer. After the modern portion was completed, those of us who were called back began my personal favorite part of the audition, this being the rehearsal section. In this portion, you are taught a piece of repertoire, and then have the opportunity to be briefly coached on it before presenting it for the panel. This was a wonderful section because it was the first time really getting to open up a two-way dialogue between myself as a dancer and the teacher who was setting the piece on me. I remember feeling very much at home in this section as this is most of what we as dancers do in our day to day lives! Learn choreography, apply corrections, add your own flavor to it, show off your performance technique, and so on and so forth.
At this point all that’s left of the audition are the two most personal parts. The solo and the interview. During these two segments, my primary advice would be to simply be yourself! All the other portions of the auditions are about showing off your versatility as a dancer and artist, but these two parts are about showing the panel the truest version of yourself. Breath deep and easy. One piece of advice that I received and that has really stuck with me was to remember that not only is the panel looking to see if you are right for Juilliard, but they are also looking to see if Juilliard is right for you.
Overall I suppose that my audition story was simply the story of taking a few hours to boil myself down to the most true and genuine version of myself that could possibly exist. It was really about taking the day to reflect on all I’d become as a dancer through my years of training, and to look ahead at all that I might one day be. For me, it was a equally a day of prophecy as well as nostalgia, and it certainly won’t be a day that I’ll soon forget.
Juilliard Dance 2020