How to: Survive a Dance Call
In this new HOW TO series on Bloody Hell Brennan, I’ll be occasionally sharing my vast wisdom about the showbiz industry, hopefully passing on useful tips to fellow performers. In this first one, I examine How To Survive a Dance Call.
The phone rings. It’s your agent. ‘FINALLY,’ you think, ‘IT’S NOW! MY BIG BREAK I S FAST APPROACHING.’
“You’ve got an audition tomorrow at 11am. It’s for the West-End show you’ve dreamt of being in ever since you were in the womb.”
“OMGGREATAMAZINGTHANKYOUSOMUCH I’M GONNA BE MARIUS/ELPHABA/SIMBA/MISS SAIGONNNNN [delete as appropriate]”
“It’s at Pineapple. Oh, and the first round will be a dance call.”
KADUNG. That’s the sound of your heart and hopes falling apart quicker than a Primark handbag. As an actor/singer, I know, dance calls are the WORST. So here’s how to survive one if you’re not *technically* a dancer.
- DANCE CALL VS MOVEMENT CALL
Dance calls = strong dancers. Movement calls = strong actors/singers. If you’re a little bit ahem, choreographically challenged, you’ll probably be in for what they describe as a MOVEMENT call. Now, regardless of what they tell you on the day, whether they bandy words like ‘triple pirouette’ round or not, we’re not stupid. We all know that the term ‘movement’ means ‘be a tree’ so that’s what I would go with. Every time. Tree movement = triple threat.
- THE COMPETITION
When you enter the room you’ll be greeted with a row of beautiful girls in full faces of beauty counter-esque make-up stretching their legs up by their ears (the same thing they do when they’re a bit merry out in clubs for banterous pictures. Cos you know LOL). Don’t be fooled, this has nothing to do with warming up- it’s about intimidating the competition. But of course, two can play that game and auditions are a ruthless battlefield. Now is the perfect time to bust out your party piece to throw them off the scent! Go up to them and belt your best note as loud as you can for as long as you can. Johnny Mother-Fucking One Note bitchess.
Said stretchy ladies will probably be wearing as near to no clothes as possible, in a bid to look like the Kids from Fame- high leg leotards, knickers and crop tops etc- and to be fair to them, the old motto goes, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” (Which is why I always wear Christmas jumpers from November onwards to flaunt my impeccable taste and style. Oh, and low cut tops to flaunt my tremendous rack.) If you’re not that keen on looking like an extra from the ‘Call On Me’ video, another good thing to DEFINITELY do, is to wear something with a flavour of the show you’re auditioning for e g, a-line skirt for Grease, fishnets for Chicago, whiskers and ears for Cats, riot gear for Billy Elliot etc.
Once you’ve started, you will be shown the combination once and then asked to perform it, so make sure you insert your photographic memory card in your brain before you leave the house. For really advanced performers, they don’t even show you the routine, you just have to telepathically guess what it’s going to be, and then they send home the ones who guess incorrectly.
- ABORT ABORT ABORT
If you hear the word ‘Freestyle’ then begin to panic. But also don’t panic. Here’s my handy tip- just do the Macarena mixed with a few step-ball-changes. They won’t notice and you will be looking totally On. Fucking. Point. Which is different to being on fucking pointe, by the way, because that shiz is sorcery.
- ASK QUESTIONS
To ensure the choreographer really sees you are keen and you know your stuff, ask a few questions. Some useful vocabulary to throw into these questions include: pas de bourree, lay-out, Jellicle Ball, good toes naughty toes and twerk. Also laugh loud at everything they say to show you are REALLY FUN and BUBBLY and have a GSOH.
- SPECIAL SKILLS
Sometimes you’ll be asked to do your special skill. I have loads of special skills but I’m yet to go to an audition where any of the following are useful: Articulate, blow-jobs, knowing the rap to ‘Wild Wild West’ by Will Smith, necking a pint of snakebite in under five seconds (ah University education), and making the best spag bol on the planet. Don’t be alarmed when people start to bust out acrobatics around you. Just do a forward roll and finish with some COMMITTED jazz hands and once again, you will be looking totally O.F.P- On Fucking. Point.
- THE CUT
If you’re not chosen to stay for round two, everyone is agreed that the best, most graceful and dignified way to leave, is to put on your tap shoes, sling your bag on your back and put on a Bronx accent (because you know, acting) and shout, “I DON’T NEED YOU! I DON’T NEED ANY OF YOU! I’LL MAKE IT ON MY OWN!” before spring ball changing out of the door. Total style. Totally O.F.P.
If all else fails, smile until your face hurts, head high, shoulders down, pull up and perform your blooming socks off. Or say your last name is Strallen.
And then go and have a massive gin afterwards. You deserve it.