Tension and Dancing

by Maggie Segale, 4th- year dancer

As a fourth-year dancer, I am constantly auditioning. Whether flying to Europe to be seen by company directors, or simply taking ballet class here at school, some potential employer is generally watching. With so much focus on getting a job, one might expect that I would be a nervous wreck during this time. Thankfully, the opposite is true. I have found a refreshing sense of groundedness.

While nervously doing pliés at one audition in January, I finally realized what teachers have been telling me all along. I would be happier and dance better if I just relaxed! I took a breath and decided just to dance as myself, and not try to dance like anyone else. As a result, I was able to pick-up combinations faster and to be more expressive.  This has come to be one of the most important discoveries I’ve had while at Juilliard.

Below is an illustrated narrative based on this beautiful realization. 

Maggie 1

Raymonda is a high school senior auditioning for a college dance program.

Application: sent!

Essay: completed!

Solo: prepared!

“Okay, cool! I got this! Now all I have to do is dance!”

Maggie 2


I forgot to burn a CD of my solo music!

I spilled hot chocolate all over my favorite leotard!

I’m going to have to introduce myself to the faculty????? Suddenly, I cannot remember my own name. Rebecca? Rachel? Ronald? RAYMONDA! That’s it! Raymonda is my name."

Maggie 3

“PHEW! Alright, got it sorted out.

I burned 25 CDs of my solo music.

I poured hot chocolate all over my leotard, so you can’t even see the stain! Genius.

I wrote my first, middle and last names on my arm in case I forget. “

Maggie 4

“Here I am at the ballet barre! I can’t believe I made it to this point!

Okay, ‘plie, stretch, releve,’ got it!

Eek! I can’t move my legs! I mean it! I can’t even bend my knees! This is it for me, this is the end. They’ll have to send in a rescue team to remove me from the ballet studio!

I can see it now: ‘Girl freezes in dance audition, never moves again.’”

Maggie 5

Auditions can be DAUNTING. It’s no secret.

There are so many details to remember,

Bobby pins to consider,

Warm-up techniques…

It’s easy to get TENSE

Maggie 6


Maggie 7

Remember that dance is art. Sure, it requires technique, but the truth is that dancing is joyful, emotional, and beautiful. Tension gets in the way of artistic expression, and makes you feel like you’ll have to be wheeled out of the studio on a stretcher.


Sure, prepare your necessary materials, plan your outfit, and practice your introduction…


DON’T lose sight of your unique voice!

DON’T compare yourself to others or worry that you’re not worthy!

DO take a moment to exhale, listen to the music, and remember why you love dancing.


BREATHE and try to enjoy this special time of your life. You will become a better artist because of it, regardless of whether you make the callback.

Maggie 8

These are a few of the countless things I have discovered during my tenure at The Juilliard School.

Conservatory vs. Liberal Arts University: Oh, how I was wrong

My Juilliard Dialogue