Videos are a great alternative when auditioning in person isn't possible. Here are some general guidelines for making a good impression.
1. Follow directions.
Before filming, research what each school you're interested in requires. "It demonstrates your ability to follow instructions, and schools pay attention to that," says Kate Lydon, artistic director of American Ballet Theatre's summer intensives and the ABT Studio Company. "If the guidelines haven't been followed, your video might not be watched the whole way through." You may need to make multiple versions to accommodate different schools.
2. Videos should be no longer than 10 minutes.
"Keep it short, simple and direct," advises Philip Neal, dance department chair at The Patel Conservatory and artistic director of Next Generation Ballet. "You have to be sensitive to how much time the director has to sit down and look at it." Barre can be abbreviated, showing only one side per exercise, alternating. Directors will be looking at fundamentals—placement, turnout, leg lines, stability—but don't ignore musicality or movement quality. Make sure music choices match combinations and are correctly synced in the footage.
3. Exercises should be appropriate to your level.
"It's hard to see the dancer's potential if the combinations are too difficult," says Lydon. Have a teacher present while shooting to help design exercises and provide feedback.
4. You should be the only dancer in view, and clearly visible.
For barre, shoot at an angle instead of straight on—it may be less flattering, but it allows the faculty to see details like whether you're fully closing in fifth, or if your hip is hiked in développé à la seconde.
5. It doesn't matter if your video is shot on an iPhone or by a professional videographer,
says Lydon, "as long as it's well lit, clear and the dancer stays in frame." Have a friend, or better yet a teacher, film for you, and avoid shooting through the mirror.
6. Pay attention to your outfit and grooming
"Cleanliness and professional appearance goes a long way," says Neal, "because it shows discipline and how you'll behave when you show up." Opt for a simple leotard and pink tights for girls, or a well-fitted T-shirt and black tights for boys. Keep your hair and makeup clean and understated, and resist the urge to wear warm-ups. "The video you're sending is in lieu of you going to an audition," says Lydon, "so prepare accordingly: Follow instructions, look your best and show your best self."