My Dance Audition – A Day that Changed My Life

by Cleo Person, 1st-year dancer

March 5, 2012 was a day I looked forward to with more anticipation than almost any other day in my life so far. It was the day of my Juilliard audition. So maybe I had things a little out of proportion, but I had spent months obsessively watching videos on the Juilliard Web site, reading blogs about the audition process, and taking the subway to Lincoln Center almost every week so I could just look at the school. (Disclaimer: I don’t recommend doing any of these things, as you surely have much more useful things to be doing with your time.) But if you’re anything like me, your big audition day might just occupy your thoughts a large portion of the time. Hopefully, this blog about my audition experience will ease your mind a little and help you to feel a bit more prepared for what you will encounter.

My whole audition experience got off to a rocky start. Ten days before my audition I was in a dress rehearsal for a dance show at my school, and at a part where I was supposed to be slingshot backward to the ground, I landed hard on one of my sits bones, causing a sharp pain in my butt. I got up slowly, and since I couldn’t really walk, I had to drop out of the show. Self-diagnosis: a mild puncture tear in my gluteus medius. Luckily, muscles heal quickly given the right care and rest, but that still meant that I couldn’t dance for the whole week. Then, I would have only three days to get back in class and rehearse my solo before the audition – not exactly the ideal situation.

Since I couldn’t really prepare physically, the days leading up to my audition were a sort of non-stop mental exercise: how do I contain my nerves, trust that my body will be there for me, and not psych myself out so that I can give the best audition I am capable of? The answer for me lay in the constant, positive pep-talks that I gave to myself.

I should let you know that I applied early, as a junior in high school, because I had already been living on my own for a semester and I had attended the Juilliard summer program twice. I felt I couldn’t wait any longer before applying for real, so I decided just to try, saying to myself, “Hey, I can always apply again next year if it doesn’t work out.” That was the mindset that took a lot of the pressure off. I was eased by many stories I had heard of current students at the school who had been accepted only the second time they applied, so I knew it wouldn’t be just a one-shot deal. Most importantly, I made the decision that I would let excitement, not anxiety take center stage in my often-fluctuating mental state. With my own mental game already won, the audition itself was really just fun.

You are surely already aware of the general process: ballet class, modern class, solo, coaching, interview; so I won’t go into detail about that except to say that there is nothing terribly difficult about the classes- they’re not trying to trick you or test your extensive dance vocabulary, but they’re really just trying to get a sense of who you are as a dancer and as an interesting, unique human being with something to say and the potential to be able to say it articulately though movement. The one thing I did find daunting in the audition was the pure magnitude of the cuts made. There were about 50 dancers in the ballet class, and just two of us were left by the time we got to the interviews. I find the best way to deal with this sort of situation is to come with no expectations of how far you’ll make it, and to remember that getting cut is in no way a reflection of your talent or worth as an individual, it just wasn’t the right time or place.

It is incredibly important to remember that Juilliard is just one school, and it’s not for everyone. You should think of your audition as an opportunity for you to audition the school as much as it is for the school to audition you. Ask yourself, “Do I like the energy and vibe of the teachers and the class they’re giving? Am I interested in working, for four whole years, on the things that they value and appear to be interested in?” And even if your answer is “yes, definitely!”, trust that the people auditioning you know pretty well what type of student will get the most from the education they’re offering (they’ve been doing it for a long time), and that you wouldn’t want to be somewhere that wasn’t a good fit for you. There are lots of great dance schools out there that you might find creatively stimulating and technically challenging, and may open up opportunities for your career that you didn’t even know existed!

So my main advice is to put forward the best and most honest version of yourself you know everywhere and all the time, not just for your auditions because it is ultimately that, and not the best tricks or best feet or anything else superficial, which will allow you to get to the places you’re supposed to be in every aspect of your life. Ultimately, you may want to think of your audition as an exciting opportunity to possibly change the course of your future, just as it was for me.

My Dance Audition – People are Just People

by Garth Johnson, 4th-year dancer

The date was February 6th, 2009 – a very special day in my memory. It had almost seemed as if it would never come, but then it arrived: The Juilliard Audition Day. Waking at the wee hour of 6:30 am, I rose with complete thrill to bring on the day. Bundled in excitement and yet feeling a calm ease, I began to eat breakfast in the company of the rising sun. But I didn’t feel too hungry; maybe it was the adrenaline. Gathering my things, I took a deep breath in and released it. I felt the chill in the air as I hopped into the car with my mother.

65 miles to go and I would be at the studio, getting my number, checking in, nervously warming up. Throughout the entire car ride I conversed with my mother about the possibilities the day could bring. As we drove south, getting closer and closer, I must have played the music for my solo 50 times.

30 miles away. I remember thinking a lot about questions the teachers might ask me, and how I would answer.

Who choreographed this solo?

I did.

What is the meaning of it?

It’s about letting go and feeling happy.

As I got creepily close to take-off, I thought of something. If you’ve ever heard the song “Ghost of Corporate Future” by Regina Spektor, you will know exactly what I am speaking of. A lyric from the song provided me with a great deal of courage that day:

“People are just people, they shouldn’t make ya nervous…cause people are just people. People are just people. People are just people like you.”

That quote stuck with me. And singing the song in my head made me feel silly and less scared. It was cold and wintery as I hustled and shuffled into the studio. I was 30 footsteps away from an audition that would forever hold sentiment in my being. Deep breath in, breath out. I released the air and watched my breath form into small clouds of vapor. My cold hands touched the metal handle to open the door of the studio. Wiping my boots on a black doormat, I was now 28 footsteps away from my audition.

Here we go, 10 steps later. I gather a number and notice that I’m number 18, which will be my age in a few months. This thought makes me smile. 8 more steps and I find myself approaching the studio, warming up and saying hello to a few familiar faces.

Ballet begins. I am amazed at what fun Mr. Poulin has teaching us. His ease and happiness bring a freeing energy, and I try my best. As the audition progresses, I just keep singing the song lyric in my head. People are just people, they shouldn’t make ya nervous.

The long day winds to a close, and I realize that I have made it to the end. At this point in the audition, I just feel a great deal of happiness, and the last portion of the audition is the interview section. Mr. Poulin interviews me, and I am delighted by the ease of our conversation. I realize that all the teachers want is to get to know you, which feels nice.

I remember the last thing I said to them.

Are there any last things you want to tell us?

I love ICE CREAM!

(So true, but now I am lactose intolerant and never get to eat it!)

What a great day. I realized that whatever came of it didn’t matter, because I tried so hard and showed them who I was. And because People are just people, they shouldn’t make ya nervous. The world is everlasting, it’s coming and it’s going.

Welcome to the Juilliard Dance Division

by Sarah Adriance, Dance Division Administrative Director

For college dance programs everywhere, it’s audition season!

Every Juilliard dance audition starts with a welcome from Larry Rhodes, our artistic director, followed by a reminder from him that the purpose of the audition is to find a “good fit” for Juilliard, not to assess each dancer individually. This distinction is key!

We want everyone to feel they’ve shown their best so we can see if that “best” aligns with the mission of the school. The faculty is looking for dancers they feel have the best trainable potential, a combination of experience and natural gifts for dance with an open mind that allows the dancer to try new ways of working. All the elements that make a dancer – coordination, musicality, flexibility, alignment, strength – are only part of what it takes to someday become an artist.

We endeavor to make the audition a pleasant experience. Mr. Rhodes encourages the dancers to relax, breathe, and try to enjoy dancing. We hope, even if the outcome is not what you would have wished, that you enjoy the opportunity to dance. Your Juilliard audition will be one of many in the year, and one of many more in the course of your career.

In the next few weeks, you’ll hear from a few Juilliard dancers who’ve been there: the months of preparing their solo; the audition day with its highs and lows; and finally, waiting for the letter or phone call.

Best of luck to each of you! You’ve come this far; enjoy the process.

 

 

My Acting Audition – An International Student’s Perspective

by Robert Aramayo, 2nd-year actor

Auditioning for Juilliard was, as many others say, nothing but a dream for the biggest part of my life, and being from the north of England with such problems as visas and financial aid, I didn’t ever really believe it was possible. I didn’t believe this even when I came for my first audition at the school, but I knew I had to give it a go. I went to the audition in New York with my mother and neither of us really knew what we were doing, where we were going, and what was going to happen. One thing that we did know was to make sure that there was another reason for coming to New York other than auditioning for Juilliard because, as you can imagine, all that money on a plane ticket for one day is very frightening. In the morning my mum got breakfast and waited downstairs for me. Little did we both know that she would wait there until 10pm!!

After the process of getting checked in, feeling completely isolated and scared being the only English person, we were escorted into a room where Richard Feldman led a talk. This talk gave me tremendous ease and made me feel ready for the day to come. He told us, “Today you get to share your work, how exciting is that!” I now looked at this process very differently. I left that room not only filled with confidence, but with a support from everyone around me, and that feeling has never left me to this day.

I felt very intimidated, not only by these people who had very different backgrounds to myself, but also this idea of “getting ready” – warming up rituals, dances, stretches. I saw it all, and if I had allowed it to, it could have made me feel very unprepared. But I didn’t allow this to affect me and I did what I needed for my audition. When it came to the time of auditioning, I walked in to see Moni Yakim seated in front of me. I did my pieces and we worked for a little bit. When it came to giving me changes and alterations for my monologues, I felt as if there was no space in the room for nerves or fear of the direction Moni was giving me. Obviously, when I walked out of the room I had the initial response that it was all over. I might as well have gone home there and then because if he changed my monologues that meant he didn’t like them, and if he didn’t like them then that must mean he didn’t like me. A thought I am sure went through a lot of heads that day, and in every audition.

I was astounded then to learn that I had been called back!!!! I was so happy I didn’t know what to do with myself, but also, Kathy Hood made it quite clear that there was a long day ahead. This was certainly true. We went through many different activities with many of the teachers, and in the end we finished with an interview with Jim and Kathy. The interview was very fun and lighthearted, and I was so relieved to leave the building, collect my mum, and go for a drink!

My Acting Audition – Love at First Sight

by Julia Warren, 1st-year actor

After rehearsing monologues tirelessly the night before in my hotel room, it was time for me to face the long-awaited and most anticipated event of my life: THE JUILLIARD AUDITION. I had checked and rechecked my audition checklist. I had nursed and rehearsed my monologues and songs. I had carefully selected what I felt was the perfect audition outfit, set my alarm so that I could wake up in enough time to run through all of my material and get some grub. Since my mom and I were totally unfamiliar with the city and being hyper-vigilant about everything, we planned to walk from our hotel to the school. Twenty-three blocks later we discovered that was probably not the ideal choice in transportation but quite possibly the best way to soak in the city while venting some of our nervousness.

Basking in the awe of finally being there, we walked into the Juilliard foyer, climbed the unforgettable staircase, and were immediately and enthusiastically welcomed by current students who were so inviting and, to my surprise, very interested in trying to get to know me right off the bat. After registering I was escorted to the 3rd floor waiting room while my mom was invited to wait downstairs in the main lobby. This was the largest audition I had ever been to. Each candidate that entered the waiting room – ultimately 120, I think – added an additional butterfly to my stomach. I thought I might explode. I felt nervous/anxious energy spread throughout the waiting room as I tried to sit patiently. I listened to music to help me get/stay as calm as possible, under the circumstances. While waiting, I watched as others reviewed their monologues to themselves, talked with current students in the room, or kept to themselves.

Turned out I was to be one of the last ones to audition so I decided to take advantage of the extra time to check out one of the practice rooms they had told us about on the 4th floor. I “signed out” a room with one of the current students and was able to practice my monologues a couple of times. I left the practice room feeling more confident than I did when I entered. When I left the room I ran into a random Juilliard Music student who encouraged me that “everything would be okay” and that I would “end up where I needed to be”. Wow!!  I loved that every single Juilliard student I came in contact with “somehow” offered genuine encouragement. How could they know? Maybe I was THAT nervous. I guess they each just sensed that I needed to hear that. I had heard that Juilliard was full of elitist know-it-alls but that was not my first impression, or my impression now. I felt at home – already – and I had already fallen in love with the school and I hadn’t even auditioned yet. Great.

My nerves were running high when I entered the audition. The audition room was all white with a chair positioned behind a red tape line to separate me from the faculty. I introduced myself to them and went right into my material. I stopped half-way through my first monologue. I didn’t forget my lines, but I wasn’t showing them who I was – I was so excited by the process that I realized I was leaving out the most important thing. I did not come all the way from Atlanta to not show them who I was. So, I started over. I went straight through my monologue for the second time, was asked to sing the song I had prepared, and the audition was over.

I knew that if I didn’t get called back it would not be the end of the world because I did my best and felt I gave an honest audition. So I started talking to people around me and even began beat boxing and free-styling with some of the other applicants. I was having a blast! Then finally………the callback list was posted. I took my time gathering my things as the others scrambled to see the list. My jaw dropped. I saw my name on the list and freaked out.

The sixteen applicants called back moved to the fourth floor to have pictures taken and find out the next phase of the audition. Kathy Hood, the Administrative Director for the Drama Division, told us that we would all re-audition for the entire faculty one-by-one. We were to do one monologue of their choosing from our initial audition and sing a song. Kathy assured us that the hardest part of the day was over and, while we waited for our turn, we needed to write a short essay and fill out some paper work. Thereafter, they provided us with lunch. This was the part of the audition where you couldn’t spend just three months preparing for. This was the part where you just needed to be yourself.

A majority of the audition consisted of waiting, getting to know current students, and doing whatever it took to keep your energy up because we would be staying at the school for the rest of the day. There were all types of people that were auditioning. I met a girl from Bulgaria, someone who had gotten their B.A. from Yale, and a guy who had traveled from Switzerland – Juilliard was the only arts school he had applied to in the U.S. I experienced all of those “firsts” within that audition day at Juilliard. I was smitten like a kitten for this school.

After each of the 16 auditioned, we did a group audition where select faculty members conducted various theatre exercises with us. We did improvisation, theatre games, etc. Then we sat in the lobby on the fourth floor and waited for the second round of “cuts”.

After the faculty deliberated, Kathy announced that they would hold one-on-one interviews with some students but if you were not asked to do an interview it didn’t necessarily mean that you were out of the running to be chosen for the callback weekend. Five people were selected to be interviewed and I was one of them. I was interviewed by Jim Houghton, the head of the Drama Division, and Rebecca Guy, an acting teacher and project director. The interview gave me a chance to just talk to them. Though I’m pretty sure the faculty had a good idea of who I was through my audition, it was great to sit down and truly open up to them. The questions were as basic as “what do your parents do for a living” to “what’s your biggest fear.” I interviewed for about 20 minutes and then that was it. I was done.

I gathered my things, said my goodbyes to the remaining staff, and left with someone who was called back. Coincidentally, that person happened to be staying in the same hotel I was in and they knew how to ride the subway. When we walked outside we couldn’t believe that we had spent the entire day auditioning. By the time we reached our hotel we had gushed about how in love we both were with the school. I opened the door to my hotel room and my mom who had been patiently waiting to hear all the details. After filling her in over room service we laid down to get some rest for the next day of auditions with other schools. She told me that no matter the result, whether I got into Juilliard or not, she was proud of me. She had told me before my audition that the most important thing was that I showed them exactly who I was. She was right. I showed them exactly who I was. Now it was completely out of my hands. They had given me an experience that I would remember for the rest of my life and all I could do now is…wait.

My Acting Audition – Finding Home

by Jasmine Batchelor, 2nd-year actor

“When you want something with all your heart, that’s when you are closest to the Soul of the World. It’s always a positive force… All the Universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

7 AM, Saturday, January 22, 2011: I am walking thirty-two blocks in thirty-seven degree weather to The Juilliard School from the NJ Transit corridor of Penn Station.  Being brand new to the city and its public transportation, coupled with the strange superstition of having to walk off any resident nerves, finds me sweating profusely beneath my winter coat; my backpack filled with my audition survival kit (a few snacks, a change of clothes, my head shots, a journal, wallet, etc.) growing heavier with each block. I’d woken up at five to leave Madison, New Jersey (Where I was working as an actor at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey) and take the first steps on the road to what I considered, and Paulo Coelho calls, my “Personal Legend,” the road to my destiny, success; dream. In the cold and early of the morning, I remember how different my reality is than a mere eight months ago, and how, already, I am much more capable of listening to the Soul of the World than before.

Shortly before graduating college in June of 2010, a family fallout left me homeless and destitute. To the outside eye, I had everything going for me: I graduated magna cum laude and at the top of my acting class, I had been the star of several university productions and was the go-to actress for the school’s film department, I’d just performed professionally and begun my road to Equity, and my professors, peers, and visiting master teachers praised me, destined me for greatness and assured everyone that I was the actress to watch. They praised my work ethic and performance, and gave me confidential assurances that I was going to take the professional world by storm. The cruel truth was utterly contrary to this praise. Because of my family’s rift, I no longer had any financial or emotional support, which left me no room to travel to auditions during my senior year. I could hardly buy groceries. I barely drove because I couldn’t afford to put gas in my car. I missed school functions to work late shifts at Starbucks after class so I could keep a roof over my head. I missed the opportunities that my peers were using to start their careers immediately after college. The star student was becoming the girl who got left behind.

One afternoon at work, a friend came in to see me at work and it dawned on me – is this what I want my life to be? Do I want this to be my work? I made a plan then and there; the musical theatre seniors were taking a class trip to New York for their showcase, if allowed, I would go too. If they were going to meet agents and managers, I would be in the right place at the right time to meet them as well.

I scraped three hundred dollars together, bought a round trip ticket to New York, and ate very little for three weeks in order to join them for their showcase. I stayed with Monica, a generous friend in Brooklyn, who saw how frustrated I’d become with my life, and at the time, my trip. I spent my time in New York as the unofficial assistant to my fellow students – stirring their coffee, refilling their water bottles, safety pinning their gowns – I knew there was more that I was destined to do, but when I attempted to meet and greet agents, I was shot down by people of my own school. They had become competitive and selfish, telling me I’d “better stick to helping out.” I was devastated. One night, I stayed in Brooklyn and avoided the heartbreak of another round of agencies coming and going, and Monica, to my surprise, gave me an invite to a talkback at Juilliard for The Public’s recent production of, “The Neighbors.” After considering it, my depression turned it down. “No thanks,” I sighed. “I don’t feel like moving.” Monica looked at me fiercely, waved her hands in the air and said, “Honey! When you get an invitation to ANYTHING at Juilliard, you GO!” So, I went.

It was at that talkback that I found what’d been missing. Here was a place where art brought people from all walks of life; every ethnicity, every political background, every economic status, every area of performance, every part of the world was represented in one building. It blew my mind. The space itself felt welcoming to all. After the talkback, the woman who’d invited Monica approached me with a question. “Have you ever considered applying to Juilliard?” “No,” I blushed. “That’s kind of impossible,” I laughed. She shook her head. “Come with me,” she said as she led me to the Office of Admissions. She gave me a few pamphlets and a calendar of events. “You’re too late to apply for this upcoming school year, but you should apply for fall of 2011. You sing?” “Yes,” I told her, my voice almost cracking. “Good. We need singers in the Drama Division. Look it over.” I smiled, thanked her, and went back to Monica’s apartment. Something had changed. The next morning I just knew – I was going to Juilliard.

8 AM of January 22, 2011: I am climbing the grand staircase of The Juilliard School. I’m about an hour early, but I am still greeted by two friendly drama students. After signing in with one of them, I am led upstairs to the third floor. There are smiling students everywhere; they wear name tags and welcome me to the place they call home. Somehow, this just feels right. Although somewhere in consciousness there is the recognition of the gravity of this moment – I’m at Juilliard, the number one performing arts college in the country – I am still caught in the tangible support and love given by all of these smiling faces and welcoming words. After being led through a group warm up by voice teacher Kate Wilson, we are given kind words by acting teacher and director, Richard Feldman. Both of these teachers, people, are so kind and openhearted, it’s almost impossible to feel nervous. We are led back to our communal room and given times to audition; until our individual audition we are given free rein to relax, utilize the plentiful practice space on the fourth floor, and talk to the current students made available for questions. This environment makes all the difference – they make it clear that we are welcome, we are valued, and we are here to be seen, not judged.

My audition is in studio 306. I am led by yet another friendly, easy going student to the hallway outside of the studio and introduced to the, now alum, Joaquina Kalukango (recently seen on Broadway in the revival of Godspell and off-Broadway in the Signature Theatre’s premier of Hurt Village) who makes me feel even more at home. We chat and laugh until it comes time to audition – it feels completely normal to be here. By the time I am called in I feel as if I, like her, own this space. These halls are mine, this studio is mine, and these walls are mine. These are to be my friends, my teachers, my dressing rooms; this is my destiny. I walk into 306, an oversized studio with beautiful overhead windows and two entrances, with a sense of ease and calm. The midday sunlight poured through the windows and spilled along the studio floor as if to welcome me. The Soul of the World had never spoken so clearly. “You are here.” I turn from these magnificent windows to see the smiling faces of Richard Feldman and Mina Yakin. “Hello, Jasmine,” smiles Richard. “Good morning!”
I instantly feel at ease. “Do you mind if I take off my shoes?” I ask, already removing one slipper.
Richard laughs. “Of course. This is your time, you do whatever makes you most comfortable.”

It was the best audition I’ve ever had.  I don’t say that to praise my piece selection, or to brag about auditioning in sweatpants instead of dressing up, I don’t say that to give myself a pat on the back at all – I say it because of the love and welcoming I was given. In the following eight hours, I met the entire faculty, including Drama Division Head, James Houghton, who is also the artistic director for The Signature Theatre. I got to know some pretty amazing people (Some of whom are in my group!) and go through an initial callback with them in front of that faculty, and then stayed for an interview with James Houghton and second-year acting teacher, Becky Guy.  Everyone I encountered that day received me with open hearts, open minds, and open ears. I left the building around 9 pm, physically exhausted but spiritually renewed – I’d just taken the first steps toward the rest of my life, and I felt it in every bone of my body. I was finally home.

9:30 PM, Saturday, January 22, 2011
Decided to take the 1 Train back to 34th Street – it’s safer that way.  =)

My Acting Audition – Sometimes You Have To Audition A Few Times…

by Angelina Impellizzeri, 2nd-year actor

I auditioned for The Juilliard School Drama Division two times. The first time I auditioned for Juilliard (in New York) I was wait-listed and subsequently not offered admission to the 2010-11 school year. So there I was, in upstate New York, at the end of my senior year at Bard College. I had spent almost the entire end of my last semester focused on getting into Juilliard. After I didn’t get in I wasn’t sure what to do next. I didn’t have a back up plan at all. So after graduation I moved back home to St. Louis, Missouri. It was summer. I had a six-week teaching gig that I treasured, but when it was over I was unemployed and my student loan debt was knocking hard at my door. I had to get a job…a couple, actually.

Retail, retail, retail. That quickly became my life. It was a dark, dark miserable hole where my weekly hours were determined by how many people I could sign up for credit cards. I wasn’t acting. I wasn’t even reading plays. I didn’t do anything related to theater for months and one day my body cried FOUL! Walking to my car one evening after some crazy coupon day at work, I stopped outside of my car door because I felt this strange tingly gut instinct come over me. My body was trying to tell me something…Oh boy. I think I need to reapply to Juilliard. But wait, can I really go through that whole process again? January 22nd to May 1st was how long it took me to get rejected the first time…I don’t know if I can muster up the strength to give it another go.

A few weeks later, I found myself at my computer staring at the “Submit” button on the online application. It was the deadline day. The application had to be submitted by midnight. Still just staring. Come on stomach, tell me what to do. Somewhere close to midnight I got up from the computer and started scream-dancing down to my mom’s room shouting, “OKAY! OKAY! I DID IT! IT SENT! IT’S IN! I’M DOING IT AGAIN! OH MY GOD I’M GONNA THROW UP! WHAT THE *BEEP* IS GOING ON! OKAY! I GOTTA FIND SOME MONOLOGUES!”

A few months later I was on a train headed for The Windy City on my way to Juilliard Audition #2. I’ll never forget walking into that Chicago audition and seeing Kathy Hood and Richard Feldman’s warm greetings and smiles welcoming me and everyone else into the waiting room. Something was different though. It was me. I had this realization that if I didn’t get into Juilliard again I COULD STILL TOTALLY BE AN ACTOR AND KEEP GOING AFTER MY DREAMS! You see, I didn’t know this about myself the first time. I had a do or die attitude. Get in or your life as an actor is over. You failed. That attitude didn’t help me, and quite frankly, it wasn’t any fun at all. The best thing that I did for myself was to take that pressure off of my shoulders. I believe that this change of mindset greatly helped my second audition and ultimately led to my admission to the school. If there is anything that anybody can take away from reading my little story I would say…

**PREPARE. BUT CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK. SMILE. IT’S ACTUALLY GOING TO BE OKAY NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. HAVE FUN! GO INTO YOUR AUDITION KNOWING THAT TODAY IS JUST ANOTHER DAY THAT YOU GET TO DO WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO…and nothing more.**

Welcome to the Juilliard Drama Division

by Kathy Hood, Drama Division Administrative Director

Hello and Happy New Year to all of our Drama applicants!

As the Administrative Director of the Drama Division, one of the great joys of my job is to organize and run our annual auditions and to assist each and every one of you throughout this process in a personal and human way. That is one of the most important values that we all endeavor to bring to these auditions and to provide the best environment possible for you to share your work.  I love the opportunity the audition process presents for us to meet such an extraordinary and diverse group of talented actors.   I have spent the last few weeks reading through all of your applications  and I can tell you that I have been very moved by your stories of great courage, determination, passion and dedication.  You have eloquently described your individual journeys and why you love this work.  It has been inspiring to me to know you are the next generation of artists who will be leading the way.  Thank you for sharing with such thoughtfulness and generosity.

When the Admissions Office asked me to write an introductory blog to help kick off the beginning of our audition process, I thought “Fantastic, Great!  I know I can offer some good advice and words of wisdom – this will be EASY to write”.  Cut to a blank computer screen.  I type at keys but somehow no words form – I had entered the zone of writer’s block.  After some contemplation (and breathing!) I came to realize I was too concerned about trying to dispense a magnificent pearl of wisdom or advice;  too worried about whether I would be witty enough or inspire with my words.  I was trying to create the “perfect blog”.  I came into awareness that in my struggle to write this blog there might be a metaphor for the auditions themselves.  Instead of trying to be excellent or impress, I needed to be true to my authentic self and voice.  Spinning my wheels in an effort to perfect something got me nowhere.  So I decided to take a page from all of you and write what is in my heart – to just be and know that is enough.

Here are a few things that are on my mind:

  • First of all – how are you doing?  I can imagine that you must be feeling a combination of excitement, nervousness and anticipation as you ready yourself for the audition experience.  One of my students asked me yesterday how I was doing in preparation for the auditions and I  told them that I was likely feeling like the applicants right now- a mixture of all of the above!  The members of the Drama Division are very excited to meet you and we also share a similar nervousness in entering into a new experience with all of you and feel a wonderful anticipation for what lies ahead.  As the famous New York Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto once said, “Anybody who isn’t nervous on the first day of anything just  isn’t human”!
  • We have been in your shoes.  We have all auditioned before and know first-hand about the amount of courage it takes to walk into a room, share a story and reveal something about yourself and the character.  If you are auditioning in New York, you will meet many of our students who will be working the auditions in support of your experience.  They will answer questions, talk about life at Juilliard, help you feel calm before you go into the audition room, and share their own audition experiences with you.  They are an amazing group and I know you will really enjoy meeting them on your audition day.  If you are auditioning in Chicago or San Francisco, I will be there and look forward to meeting you in person and helping you navigate through the day.
  • We have tremendous respect for your time and talent.  We hope the auditions will be a more relaxed experience then perhaps you have envisioned.  I often tell applicants that it can be helpful to come into the room with the mindset that you are wearing your “student hat”.  That  you are coming into the room to work instead of feeling that you have something to prove – that can be very beneficial.
  • Select material that you love – a character, a situation, a story.  It will make the process easier if you can hook into something that you care about.  I think it is easy to fall into the trap of preparing material that you think we want to see – but what we really want to see is you and you in transformation.  We care about your choices, instincts and impulses.  There is no correct way of doing a monologue.  You will bring your own unique perspective and point-of-view to the work – we look forward to seeing that!
  • Take your time!  Breathe!  There is no rush.  This is your time and your audition.
  • Everybody has the same chance at admission.  Yes  – it is true and it something that we take great pride in with our audition process.  The playing field is level.  It doesn’t matter if you are graduating from high school or maybe have been out in the field working for a few years.   All are welcome regardless of prior training.   We embrace an artistic model of training – you come to the work at the school when the timing is right.
  • Regardless of the outcome of the audition, I know you have tremendous futures ahead.  You have already shown great power, will and determination to get to this point in time.  I believe you will continue to use your gifts to create your own path – those options are truly endless and exciting.

I believe that we  all part of one community.  Many of you will become our future colleagues not only as actors but as playwrights, directors, producers, designers, etc.  We are humbled and honored that you have selected Juilliard as a possible place as your educational and artistic home.  We welcome you with a full and open heart.

Wishing you all the best,

Kathy Hood

Administrative Director, Drama Division

P.S. – Stay tuned for some upcoming blogs over the next two weeks from our students.  I think you will really enjoy hearing their personal audition stories!

Thinking Ahead About Financial Aid

by Tina Gonzalez, Director of Financial Aid

Greetings, Applicants!

Financial Aid season is fast approaching!  Here are a few tips and reminders to keep you organized (and sane) during the coming hectic months.  But, first, did you know that:

  • 90% of Juilliard students apply for financial aid, and almost 80% are receiving Juilliard scholarship assistance.
  • You should apply for financial aid even if you don’t think you’ll qualify. There are loan and work-study programs available to most U.S. citizens/residents regardless of income.  In addition, Juilliard scholarship eligibility does not have a strict income cutoff.
  • You must apply for financial aid to be considered for any Juilliard scholarships.  All scholarship decisions are based on a combination of both financial need and merit.
  • The deadline to apply is March 1, but the best time to start is in early February, after you have your income information for 2012.  You will still have plenty of time, and the information you submit will be more accurate.

So, if you shouldn’t start the process until February, what can you do now?

  • Maintain a spreadsheet of all of your schools, including tuition, aid procedures and deadlines (and, later, scholarship offers).  Call them if you have questions!  Track the deadlines on a calendar, including a start date well in advance of the due date.
  • Arrange to have your taxes completed as early as possible, if you are planning to file a U.S. tax return for 2012. The sooner you file your tax return, the easier it will be to complete the FAFSA.  HERE’S OUR BEST FAFSA TIP:  Filing your taxes electronically makes it easier to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) when filing your FAFSA. If you won’t have your taxes completed by the end of February, use estimates, but keep in mind that your aid eligibility may change if you underestimate your income.
  • Talk to your parents about college financing.  Get all expectations out in the open.  How much are they able to pay?  Do they expect you to borrow for your education? Are they willing to take loans on your behalf?  Will you get a work-study job on campus? And don’t forget that schools will be communicating directly with YOU (the student), so be sure to keep your parents in the loop.
  • Research federal student aid programs to better understand your award letters from the schools to which you are accepted.  Be sure to find out if your state has any scholarship programs, and keep searching for private scholarships as well.

And, as always – contact us if you have any questions, concerns, or special circumstances.  We are here to help you!

New Posts for a New Year

It’s a new year, and Admissions is ready to start with a bang!  We are going to really re-activate our blog, and I’m excited to share our plan with you.

If you applied to Juilliard for fall 2013, you know that we sent you a survey in December.  We’ve been poring over the responses you sent, and one of the biggest comments was that our applicants would love to hear more from current Juilliard students.  Admissions has found that providing direct contact is a real challenge, as we have over 5,000 applicants and fewer than 800 students (who have crazy busy schedules). So, we thought that while reading a blog is not quite the same as the opportunity to have a direct conversation, it is one way to hear directly from students about their experiences here.

So, starting next week, we plan to be posting on our blog at least once a week (maybe even two or three times a week if our students have a lot to say!).  You’ll hear from actors, dancers and musicians; about life at Juilliard, arts advocacy at Juilliard, and preparation for life beyond Juilliard.

Personally, some of my very favorite blog posts have been by Juilliard students.  I invite you to go back through our archives, and see what our students had to say in previous years.  Here are some of my top picks!

Happy little Juilliard surprises! http://blog.juilliard.edu/?p=221

Freshman Year Findings http://blog.juilliard.edu/?p=225

I thought I knew…but I had no idea. http://blog.juilliard.edu/?p=110

10 more things about Juilliard http://blog.juilliard.edu/?m=200905

Juilliard Rumors: Debunked! http://blog.juilliard.edu/?p=70