How to Prepare for
a Superstars Audition
attended the Bellydance Superstars auditions in San Rafael,
California. A number of factors influenced my decision to participate.
Mostly, though, I believe in the vision of BDSS, and that of every
professional belly dance group in the country.
hard-working artists continue to elevate our art form to a level
of recognition and respect it has long deserved.
not the only one. Close to fifty hopefuls showed up in San Rafael,
and many more have auditioned over the life of the company. So
how do they prepare for this incredible job interview? While every
artist’s process is different, here is what I learned to consider
along the way:
I Really Want This?
It may seem superfluous to say “be sure you
want the job before you apply,” but it’s a huge factor that sometimes
gets overlooked. In the professional dance world, a plurality
of troupes exists because art, by nature, has a plurality of visions.
The BDSS have their own agenda just like Raqs Sahara,
Fat Chance or the Sahlala Dancers have. If your professional goals
don’t match up with at least some of the goals of the company,
it’s probably not a good fit for you or for them. Consider: why
do you want to be part of a professional dance troupe? Why BDSS
remember that a professional troupe is a business. So if mixing
business and pleasure turn you cold, this may not be the right
artistic outlet for you.
am I Getting Myself Into?
It’s hard to know that you want the job if
you aren’t familiar with the company. Have you seen the show live?
The DVDs? Are you familiar with any of the dancers’ other work?
Auditions are a great unknown, and that’s nerve-wracking, but
what you do to prepare is under your control.
Mere mouse clicks
away, there is a treasure trove of information available on the
Superstars. They’re visible and controversial, which means much
has been said by and about them. Miles Copeland
posts, responds to questions and writes articles for several publications
and online forums. The dancers have been profiled in belly dance
magazines and have professional works available. Troupe members
have even written articles about the Superstar experience itself.
The author, Samira's moment.
About This Choreography Stuff?
of the auditions begin with a group choreography section taught
by Jillina, the artistic director and main choreographer
of the troupe. Miles may make the big decisions, but by and large,
Jillina has to deliver the show.
section of steps that are taught is pulled straight from the
show – which means you have an opportunity to prove you’re capable
of the work.
a well-known dancer with a specific style and movement vocabulary,
like most professionals. She also has a series of instructional
videos and appears on several other performance tapes. Do you
need to see all of them? Of course not. But it might be a good
idea to bone up – the equivalent of reading an article by a prospective
employer. It’s a great opener to be able to say, “I was intrigued
by your position on brand equity in the most recent edition of
Ad Age.” In dance, familiarity with a choreographer’s style
gives you the opportunity to pay that compliment through your
Now I Have to Sell Myself?
I recently heard a coach say, “Performance
is a different kind of job. You have to be responsible for your
own success.” Like it or not, that usually entails self-promotion
of some kind.
press materials prior to an audition (photo, bio, demo, etc.).
Your submitted materials are the first impression BDSS will have
of you. Make sure they’re on time (at least a week in advance),
professionally presented, and relevant to the information requested.
Several good, free resources for writing resumes and professional
bios are available online. Look for information geared to actors
or dancers, if not specific to belly dance. Orientaldancer.net
hosts a series of articles on professionalism that includes presentation
to agents and directors.
Researching a company’s goals and vision is
about finding a good fit – it shouldn’t turn you into a Jillina-clone
with no statement of your own.
directors look for artists that have a clear point of view,
plus the flexibility to work as a group.
that moves you and shows off your particular talents. Whether
you plan for improvisation or a choreographed routine, consider
the flashy as well as the basic. A performance with some wow!
that doesn’t feel like a one-note will leave everyone wanting
more. Give particular thought to costuming that flatters your
body, style of dance and music and movement choices. Standing
out is good, but not if you’re standing out as a “Glamour Don’t”!
Audition Day Already?
If you’ve managed all of this prep work, now’s
the time to forget it. Really. Relax into autopilot and let the
spark that makes you unforgettable shine through. Personality
and feeling go a long way for most audiences – and they make you
memorable. You have the chance to perform for a talented and wonderfully
generous group of professionals. Enjoy the moment. Watching others
delight in what moves you can be one of the most rewarding aspects
and Regroup…Or, Now What?
Whatever path you follow, and whatever the
outcome of your audition, respect the achievement. What did you
get out of the experience that you can take with you? I know I
become a better dancer when I work and rise to an occasion, whether
it’s a performance, competition or audition. That accomplishment
is worth the price of admission for me, and more than enough incentive
to keep going.
unless you’re hired on the spot, auditions can be just the beginning
of ongoing work to put yourself in front of the organization until
a job with the company is yours.
artists of all varieties say again and again that determination,
not talent, is the true defining factor for those who make it
to a place in the spotlight.
So many belly
dancers today are working towards their dreams, their own vision
of all this beautiful art form can accomplish, and I cheer them
on. Believe it, and make it a reality. We are all capable of so
don’t think I’ll let you get away. I’ll keep on harassing you
until I’m on the bus.
a comment? Send us a
Check the "Letters to the Editor"
for other possible viewpoints!
The Bellydance Superstars
Show In Perspective by Miles Copeland
are many factors to balance, and ANY show can be improved. The
point is to also know the limitations that one faces in doing
all the things one would like to do.
Our Plans for 2006 by Miles Copeland, 2005 Photos by Monica Berini
is nothing like consistency and constant pressure to deliver at
your best each night to weld a group or troupe together.
2-17-06 Belly Dance Superstars
~Raks Carnivale! Review by Dondi Simone Dahlin
I jaded because I was part of the company for so long? Am I unable
to view the show from unbiased lenses? How I yearn to have virgin
eyes, seeing belly dance for the first time.
Adventure Amid the Tempest: The Biloxi
Fest's Near Brush with Hurricane Katrina, by Sydney
we did not allow Hurricane Katrina stop us from driving 450 miles
to immerse ourselves in and perform with Mark and Ling Shien Bell
Interview with Magdy el-Leisy
gave me freedom to create my own style. I didn't go to folklore
school as a child so I have more freedom to express my own style.