Filip Van Huffel is the Artistic Director and Choreographer of Retina Dance Company, a leading contemporary company based in Antwerp and Nottingham. Here, he shares his advice on acing your dance audition – from application to attitude...
Do you have any dos and don’ts for applications to help get an invitation to audition?
Best not to lie on a CV. Some people seem to have done one class with somebody, but then say they have worked with them. Lots of people send photographs but they are much too big a file size and take forever to download.
I think it always helps that you say you have seen the work and show a genuine interest. In the past we’ve had people that obviously write the same letter to a lot of choreographers and they forget to change the name. Uh oh. Delete.
How would you advise getting noticed in an audition without seeming desperate?
Just be yourself and try not to be too nervous. Come early so you are really warm and ready to start. Come in with the right attitude.
Dancers are notoriously in and out of work. How did you fund yourself while out of work as an auditioning dancer?
I danced in a different era – end of ’80s, early ’90s. I just travelled around Europe asking to take classes and doing workshops with different people. You get seen that way. I did a bit of teaching in the beginning. Also, making my own work; I kept it all relevant to me as a dancer and just worked on my development. If you’re really passionate about it you have to find a way to be in it.
How do you advise keeping mentally and physically fit for auditions while not working?
Go and do class. But I guess it’s expensive if you don’t have money. But you can ask to do company class.
Do you have any advice for dealing with the rejection?
A lot of dancers these days when they’re out of training they have to realise that’s when it begins. If it doesn’t work out straight away they start to drift off. You need to really work on it, people get to know you and you get better. Don’t give up easily.
When looking for dancers to work with, what do you value most?
Who they have worked with in the past is not necessarily important. Sometimes when they have worked with somebody, they move like that person. I think it’s better if they are more of a blank sheet. But I think the whole package is important – you can’t just be a good technical dancer. I like it when people are interesting to look at as well.
What advice would you give in preparing for a dance audition?
Do your research before hand. Make sure you’re fit and strong, and be open-minded. If you really like a certain company, try to go to class with them. We do open classes and it’s really popular. Develop as a person; go see theatre, music, and cinema, be interested in the world and what is happening.
What kind of behaviour do you expect in an audition that might be different to a class?
I like it when people are quick at picking up material and really listen. It’s annoying when people ask too many questions. I like it when people go over something, but not too visibly, as it’s distracting.
I suppose you want to wear clothes that you feel good in, it’s important that you’re comfortable. If you feel confident and happy about yourself, it will radiate.
Find out more about Retina Dance Company.