By Miranda Hardenberg
Body Mechanics Expert
It is that crazy time of the year, it is competition season and I have to admit, it is killing me watching all of the deadlines for video entry knowing that I cannot compete this year. So, I thought I would turn my mind to a few things that might help some of you who are looking to compete, but have never been through the process of actually entering before. It can be quite daunting, knowing that someone out there will be judging you on an audition tape and ultimately making the decision as to whether you compete or not; and around the studio I have heard lots of you talking about entering but not really knowing where to start. Here are a few tips on entering and making your first audition video that might make this process a little less scary.
Research the comp you are entering
Sometimes, not always, certain competitions are designed around particular genres. Do your research, particularly if this is a competition that has run before. Watch the videos of previous winners, making sure that you know the difference between those who are competing at your level and those who are the state or national champions! Talk to others who may have entered the comp before, or go and see your instructors/studio owners. They will be a wealth of knowledge about the variety of comps out there and how to go about entering.
Know the criteria for your section and what you’re likely to be judged on
Do some research around the judging criteria of the competition you are entering and target your video to display skills in as many of the criteria you can. Some of the criteria is released with the competition information, particularly if there are multiple levels and this criteria is reasonable strict for very good reason. If there are no criteria available, most competitions look at technique, choreography, musicality, floor work, pole tricks, and execution (among others). Try and balance your video to showcase your skills and understanding of these criteria.
Create your piece
Similarly to when you look at creating your show, you need to balance choreography that showcases your ability, without forsaking good technique. Smashing out difficult tricks with poor technique and execution will be far less effective than perfectly executing a trick with a lower technical difficulty. The most captivating routines are seamless, clean and creative, not necessarily the most difficult. Of course, target the routine to your level and showcase your strengths.
We are not all designed or born to dance the same. Showcase you as the dancer you are and add elements of what makes you unique. The organisers of the competition want to give the audience a good show, not a show where everyone does exactly the same thing. Yes there is a criteria set, but you are free to create within that space. Feel good about what you do, it shows; and it is obvious when you are trying to be something or someone else.
The actual filming of your video entry is extremely important. Rather than balancing your camera in your shoe in the corner of the room (guilty!), get someone to film you from the perspective of the audience; after all this is the angle you have designed the performance from. Angles are really important and can make tricks and techniques look very different, particularly when using a static pole. Also, be aware of the lighting and space you use as this can have a significant effect on the quality of your submission. A good quality submission is so much easier to focus on than a dimly lit entry. This can be the difference between how focussed your audience stays!
Your first 30 seconds
This is the most important piece of advice I can give…. Have you ever watched a movie and turned it off (or fallen asleep) after 20 minutes? Me too! You need to captivate your audience in the first 30 seconds or they will tune out. Remember, competition organisers have LOTS of audition tapes to look through and you want them to be captivated early. If they aren’t, they will not keep watching or at least not properly. Don’t leave your best work until the end; work it into those first 30 seconds.
I know that it all seems so much to think about, but the better prepared and planned you are the easier it will be to put your audition video together. Don’t be afraid to go for it. Showcase who you are and what you love doing and don’t let nerves or fear stop you from giving a competition a go. Had I given into my fear of dancing in public, I never would have been on the amazing doubles journey I have or met the amazing people out there in the industry that I have. I still feel like a newbie every time I sit backstage and watch the people I idolise in Instagram videos; but I have to remember I am there showcasing a completely different skill set to them. I am there showcasing me. Now stop reading and get planning, I can’t wait to see some new faces out there!