Audition Photo Tips: What to Wear

Audition Photos Series

This is the fifth post in our new series, Everything Dancers Need to Know About Audition Photos. Read the first installment.
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audition tips what to wear contemporary photos

The question of what to wear for audition photos is probably the most commonly asked question by auditioning dancers.

There are 2 parts to the What to Wear Question:

A) What style of clothing/costuming will work best with what you are trying to present to a director?  The type of companies/jobs you are interested in is key to this question, as are the characteristics of your dancing and personality that you want to represent and highlight.

B) What you like or would like to wear vs. what actually looks good on you and what shoots well?

For this installment, let’s tackle Part A.

So you’ve done your research (right? right?), looked at all your options, selected your target companies as well as alternate options, made a list of the companies’ reps, looked at the websites to see what type of images the companies use for their marketing, looked at what their dancers look like etc., etc.

This is the information you need to answer the first part of this question.

ballet audition classical photo tip rachel neville

For example, Susi Q has been training in classical dance since she was 3, she desperately wants to work for ABT or San Francisco Ballet, but there are many other smaller companies that she feels she is suited for as well.  Susi will do well to steer towards more classically inclined outfits, but she should also make sure to have some more contemporary options so the companies understand that she is well suited to a mixed rep if that applies to them.

She might choose to do a few tutu shots or perhaps another classically inclined costume.  She may also choose to do some shots in leotards and tights, or go for the more contemporary/classical look of a leotard and pointe shoes, no tights.

Note: The more contemporary the leotard the more contemporary almost any shot looks.  For example, if you look good in and can wear something like a Yumiko leotard, it has a very different flavor than a classic solid long sleeve or spaghetti strap leotard.

ballet audition photo rachel neville

Now let’s take Sally P.  Sally P has a solid classical training but favors more contemporary companies like Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, or  Lar Lubovich’s company. She is probably going to steer clear of tutus (unless styled in a contemporary way, say without tights, maybe hair down, and posing is going to be key here), in favor of some leotard shots, maybe some shorts and a bra top, as well as perhaps some everyday clothing that shows her body well but at the same time is able to be moved in.

She doesn’t necessarily need to mimic the costumes of the rep in the companies she is after, but something that will give a little bit of that feel is a good idea.

audition photo rachel neville

Stephanie E has had classical training but she excels in more modern movement.  She is perhaps a college graduate and is seeking a job in companies like Paul Taylor, pick up companies, and is also interested in Broadway as she can sing and act.  She is going to need a good variety of shots to cover all those bases.  She should have some shots in just a leotard and heels or character shoes to show off her lines and legs, some shots in maybe a short, flowy skirt and a top that accents her movements, and perhaps some alternates in street clothes that show the presentation of her character while moving.

audition photos rachel neville

For men, the premise on selection is the same.  Look at the style of the jobs that interest you and pick your wardrobe accordingly.

Color and style selection can also be helpful in giving your audience an idea of your tastes and personality.  A flamboyant, passionate dancer might choose color palates that denote that, for example, wearing pastel blue, pink, green or white is going to give you a softer, more subtle tone and texture, while deep reds, purples, and oranges speak to strength, confidence and boldness.

contemporary audition dancers Rachel Neville Photos

A dancer who bears skin (tastefully, please) may be assumed to be an extrovert or risk-taker, whereas a classical dancer in a romantic tutu might give the opposite flavor.  You get the idea.  If you are not sure where you fall, make a list of adjectives that you would use to describe yourself (quickly, don’t think too much about it, we want authentic answers), and then think about what colors or items of clothing would give you that feeling if you saw another dancer on the street or in the studio wearing them.

audition photo tips contemporary dance rachel neville photography

Dos and Don’ts

Do bring to your shoot more options than you think you will need.  Sometimes you can’t be certain what will work or not until you are shooting.

Don’t bring 6 different options of the same item (people that come to shoots with their whole leotard wardrobe, but nothing else, are limiting themselves)

Do make sure your footwear is appropriate for all your chosen looks and that you can move in all your choices (not to mention making sure your feet look as good as they can!  But that will be covered in our next installment)

Don’t choose primarily all one color for your options… black, black, black, black,, while common and often a good option for one look, may start to look dreary if presented too many times.

Do have hair and makeup looks planned that compliment your outfits

Don’t go overboard on hairpieces or accessories.  We want to see your body, your personality, your technique and your face and facial expressions.  Cover it all up with a hat or have giant earrings flying in your face, well….

Audition Photos Series

This is the fifth post in our new series, Everything Dancers Need to Know About Audition Photos. Read the first installment.

Get Audition Tips delivered direct to your Inbox.

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