by Andrew Kyrzyk and Alessandra Izzo
One of the toughest but most essential parts of working as a professional dancer is knowing how to audition. While pole dancers may not be looking to ‘make it’ in the world of professional dance, there are many common elements between our industry and the professional dance industry for those wanting to step into the competitive arena.
Although stressful and sometimes scary, auditioning is inevitable and requires a lot of practice. Andrew Kyrzyk, a professional dancer from Canada has mastered the skill of auditioning, having booked jobs to perform for artists such as Meghan Trainor, Shawn Mendes and Deborah Cox. He has been working in the TV and film industry in Canada for the past 7 years, dancing in TV and film productions, working as the Associate Choreographer on TV shows such as Backstage and has even choreographed pieces for Team Canada.
From his experience on both sides of the audition table, he gave us his top three favourite audition tips. And, while pole dance competition entries are usually judged via a video audition, the following tips from Andrew can easily be applied to your video submission.
Andrew says: “When it comes to auditioning, be efficient! The second your number is called out, run on to the floor. If you’re in the last group and you’re going over the choreography on the side, make sure to keep an eye on what’s happening on the floor so when it’s your turn, the choreographer or assistant doesn’t have to repeat themselves. This is what makes someone a smart dancer, and the choreographer can see that right away!
Also, be aware of your energy and the way you conduct yourself. When you’re learning the choreography, although it’s important to see the teacher, don’t stand right in front of somebody or rush in front of people to be in the very front. If you can’t see, kindly ask to switch lines or for the front half to sit down. Remember, the choreographer also wants to make sure you know what you’re doing, so they won’t mind doing this at all.
They’re looking for dancers who they want to spend hours with on set or in rehearsals, so be friendly, be kind, and be someone that you would want to work with! This goes from the second you walk in to the building all the way up to when you leave the building. The person greeting you at the door or the person that spilled their coffee on your shoe in the elevator might be the choreographer’s assistant. So getting angry at them or being rude might not be your best move.”
When it comes to a video audition, the judges usually only watch the first two minutes of the performance. However, two minutes is still a long time for a judge looking at fifty videos or more. The sooner you can make them sit up and take notice, the better. Don’t spend too much time fluffing around at the start of your submission video, or you risk losing them.
Show Your Personality
Andrew’s next tip is for the slate (a verbal introduction done at professional auditions) and the freestyle. He says:
“When it comes to your slate: speak up, smile and show your personality (within reason). I was at an audition a few weeks ago where a dancer did a chaine turn towards the camera took his hat off and said his name, height and agency like he was performing on Broadway for someone in the balcony. I wouldn’t suggest to do this. The camera is close, so you don’t need to overdo it. What I would suggest to do though is to speak clearly, be mindful of your body language and smile!
Also, keep in mind these slates and audition videos are often being sent to producers who do not know dance. This is very important to remember. That is why your personality, energy and body language are so important. Show them who you are!
When you are hired for a job, nine times out of ten you will be doing choreography in unison with other dancers, meaning clarity, execution and remembering the steps without remixing/changing them is very important. You don’t want to add your own “flavor” too much in the choreography. The choreographer wants to see that you can retain and perform the choreography in a group without pulling focus. With that being said, your freestyle is where you can show them who you are.
My biggest suggestion with freestyling in auditions is to do your research. What job are you auditioning for? If it’s a casting looking for hip hop dancers, don’t do pirouettes in the freestyle. Same goes for a ballet or contemporary call, don’t pop and lock in your freestyle. If it doesn’t specify what they’re looking for or it says they’re looking for versatile dancers, then show them what you can do! Especially if the choreography is not your style, the freestyle is your chance to show them your strengths.”
Applying this tip to the competition audition video is simple – a judge is always looking to see personality or uniqueness in your video. This can be difficult to achieve on camera, however, remember when filming your audition video that you still need to perform. Smiling, if it fits with the performance style, or at least looking at the camera to convey some kind of feeling will make you stand out and show that you have the ability not just to pole, but to perform.
Also as Andrew mentions, make sure the style of your video matches the style of the competition you are applying for. There’s no use doing floaty lyrical prettiness when you’re auditioning for Exotic Generation. Keep it relevant to the competition guidelines.
Andrew’s last tip is an extremely important one. Your wardrobe. He says:
“Like I mentioned before, other than the choreographer, the people doing the hiring often do not know dance, so dress the part. I cannot stress this enough! When it comes to wardrobe, I’d be more worried to underdo it than to overdo it. Read the breakdown for the casting very carefully. It will often give you very important information to keep in mind. If the audition is for a disco movie, pull out the jumpsuit and the fringe. If you don’t have the appropriate wardrobe, run to a vintage store and put something together. The first thing the choreographer will see is your look, so make sure it’s appropriate. Dress to impress!”
In pole competitions, the judges will know pole, but they will absolutely be looking for the standout submissions to put through to stage. This means, what you wear in your video is extremely important. If you don’t have the costume you envision for your final piece yet, you should still spend time doing your hair and makeup for the video. If you don’t have something suitable in your wardrobe already, hunt around on eBay or at Savers for something that is cheap, but effective on camera.
Andrew Kyrzyk Biography
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Canada, Andrew Kyrzyk has been a part of the entertainment industry since the age of 5. He is a professional dancer, choreographer, teacher and adjudicator who’s versatility has won him numerous awards in Canada and the United States. He has danced for artists such as Meghan Trainor, Shawn Mendes and Deborah Cox. He has performed in numerous commercials and events for Cineplex, MAC Cosmetics, Goldwell, Sephora, L’Oréal, Pan Am Games and World Pride. Most recently, Andrew worked as a lead dancer in Disney’s ZOMBIES which aired on the Disney Channel. Although film is his forté, he never stays off the stage for too long. He’s danced in musicals such as Dance Legends, CATS and “Dancer” a musical choreographed by three time Emmy Nominee Stacey Tookey. He most recently worked with Emmy Award winning choreographer Debra Brown on a show titled “Brace Yourself”.