How to nail your audition – behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil
Posted by Erin Banks on 02 Mar, 2018

How to nail your audition – behind the scenes of Cirque du Soleil

Our Casting Manager Erin was lucky enough to be invited behind the scenes for the recent Cirque du Soleil auditions in Australia.Erin noticed that the people who were successful all had things in common. With hundreds of hopeful applicants, it's important to make sure you stand out from the crowd. Check out Erin's top tips to make sure you nail your next audition.

The corridor at Jason Coleman's Ministry of Dance in Melbourne is already packed by the time I arrive. 170 hopeful dancers are warming up, pinning on numbers, and hoping they've got what it takes to make it through two gruelling days of auditions for the chance to be part of Cirque Du Soleil, the world's most famous circus company – and I'm lucky enough to watch it all unfold!

I meet Rick, Leon and Stacey – the three talent scouts from Cirque Du Soleil here to put the dancers through their paces today, and the auditionees begin filling the room. There's nervous chit chat and a few last-minute stretches before senior scout Rick calls for quiet. He says that everyone to be themselves and enjoy the process, “You will have fun, and you will learn something”. And with that – we're off! Leon teaches the group a piece of contemporary choreography. To my untrained eye, it looks hard; really hard. The dancers are given their shot to give it their all. Afterwards the scouts compare notes and there's discussion around the yes', the no's and the maybes. Sometimes they differ, but more often than not they are on the same page. It's at this point I realise just how good you have to be to make it through even the first stage – the group has been reduced to just over 40.

As the auditions went on, the group whittled down further and further with every new challenge, and what they were asked to do got harder and harder. Tougher choreography, a huge range of dance styles, improvisations, acrobatics, acting exercises – these guys went through the wringer! At the end of the intense weekend only seven dancers remained – and they were exceptional.

Now I'm no Patrick Swayze, but over the course of the weekend I started to see what it was that made the successful dancers shine. They were all gifted, but these are the things that I think really set them apart:

They were adaptable and took direction: When they were asked to explore a character, or change the tone or pace, all the successful dancers were able to adapt, change course, and show the scouts what they were asking for. Listening to feedback or direction, taking it on board and incorporating it in to your performance is key, no matter what discipline you are working in.

They worked hard: Not just in the audition room, but in their training. They had put the work in to have the skill and stamina to still perform high leaps and triple pirouettes at the end of two exhausting days of non-stop work. They listened, learned quickly, and practiced, practiced, practiced.

They understood performance happens in your whole body: Just like acting isn't just about saying words nicely, dancing is much more than just executing a series of moves well. Dance can convey enormous emotion, but only when it completely fills the performer. They dance with their expression, with their eyes, with the feeling they hold inside themselves, as much as they do with their arms and legs.

They were 'themselves': Anyone auditioning people wants to see the real you. The dancers who made it through weren’t afraid to show their personality in their work, to be themselves and express it in their movement. What makes you unique? How can you bring more of those unique characteristics into your performance?

So work hard, listen, take direction, take risks, and be yourself – it really is that simple.

Check out more of our audition advice on our help page.

About the author

Erin Banks is StarNow’s Markets Manager. A professional actor and voice-over artist, Erin has appeared in such varied roles as an animated bumper car for a Korean kids TV show to the haughty Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit. Erin loves cooking, crafting, gardening and her cat Willow – possibly the prettiest feline you’ve ever seen. She’s best known in the office for her calming influence and hilarious impressions.