video audition virtual dance

Image: Tania Lea Vosgatter

Dancing to a new tune: Nail that virtual dance recording with tips from a pro

Video auditions can be nerve-wracking, so let New World Dance Theatre director Celeste Botha give you her expert advice.

video audition virtual dance

Image: Tania Lea Vosgatter

Video auditions are the only way for many dancers today to show off their skills to prospective audiences. And this applies to students who hope to gain a performing arts slot at a university or college.

After all, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many theatre and dance performers to rethink, adapt and reimagine the audition and recruitment process.

This includes tertiary institutions, such as the University of Cape Town (UCT), which have swopped in-person for video auditions and recruitment.

Although the video audition can be as nerve wrecking and overwhelming as the in-person audition, it doesn’t have to be.

New World Dance Theatre (NWDT) co-founder, artistic director, choreographer, professional dancer and teacher Celeste Botha has information to help you get through.

New World Dance Theatre

Since her first professional gig Operation Blanket in 1993, Celeste has been actively involved in the South African dance, theatre and corporate entertainment industry. She has also worked with well-known contemporary and ballet dance companies both locally and abroad.

Botha, alongside Marlin Zoutman is the co-founder of the Cape Town-based registered NPO arts organisation NWDT has a youth training programme that aims to provide exposure and accessibility to those unable to afford private tuition.

“The whole idea was to give people in the coloured and black townships the opportunity to train with current, professional and very good teachers in the industry,” Botha says.

Video audition advice

Despite the fact that video auditions can be “less personal” it is absolutely imperative that you use the footage to your advantage. And this may mean recording yourself a few times. Here are some tips and tricks from Botha on how to make the most out of your video audition:

video audition virtual auditions audience performing arts
New World Dance Theatre is a Cape Town based registered NPO arts organisation. Image: Tania Lea Vosgatter

1. Nail your introduction

The first few seconds of the video audition requires you to introduce yourself.

Most tertiary institutions set questions that they would like you to answer.

So far the most common question to date is: Why should we consider you?

Botha emphasised the importance of preparation and practice by advising individuals to “write down key points” on what they want to learn, explore and unpack as an artist.

“There should be a certain energy, sense of clarity and confidence,” she suggested.

2. Use your space

With the nationwide lockdown, many are unable to gain direct access to a studio space free of charge.

Therefore,  it is a good idea for individuals to use their own initiative to create a safe dance space.

Whether it means moving around furniture or even moving outside, Botha elaborates:

“If you need to go to a parking lot or a road outside where there is gravel then put on shoes.

“There are ways … go to a field or your backyard where there is grass. And make sure there is no glass!”

video audition virtual dance
Image: Canva

Do this in your video audition

Botha suggests a few extra areas to look at when you compose your virtual audition.

3. The Do’s:

  • Check the guidelines on what content is expected to go into the audition video, the length and the video angles required. If you are unsure, contact the institution to inquire.
  • Ensure that the lighting is correct. “You need to look at the background and check whether it is light or dark. If it is light then you can wear dark toned clothing, but if your background is dark then you need to wear light toned clothing in order for them to see the body.”
  • The dress code should be comfortable, appropriate and in accordance to the style or genre of dance. Botha also suggests that you keep your hair out of your face and look neat. This will help the viewer of  to see the “outline and articulations of the body”.

Overall the NWDT artistic director notes a few other key points such as showing focus, passion and positive body language. In any audition, these might be your key to successful recruitment.