Nutrition Advice for Your Best Summer Intensive Auditions

January 24, 2024

Nerves and anxiety run high on audition days. Add a hectic commute or a long day of multiple audition classes, and eating can take a backseat to other priorities. For many dancers, the stress of auditions also comes alongside pressures to achieve specific body goals. But temptations to turn to quick-fix strategies like dieting leave dancers under-fueled and at risk for both exhaustion and injury.

Knowing what to eat (and when to eat) to feel energized and alert during your audition will benefit your dancing and increase your chances for success. Food is critical in supporting strong technique, and a consistent meal plan enhances endurance for back-to-back classes. To fuel for your auditions, it’s best to look beyond just the day of. In fact, there are strategies to consider in the days, and even weeks, before the big day. Let’s uncover them.

Planning Ahead

In the two to four weeks leading up to auditions, prioritize nutrient density and food flexibility. For meals and snacks, incorporate a mix of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats to build a baseline meal plan that supports your endurance and strength. A yogurt parfait with fruit, flax, seed butter, and granola is one example. Building a rice bowl paired with grilled chicken or tofu, a cooked veggie medley, and cubed avocado is another example. As always, avoid restrictive and overly rigid meal plans that leave you overwhelmed and make you overthink your food choices.

A grilled vegetable and chicken wrap with a side salad rests on a white plate on top of a wooden table top.
Getty Images.

Staying Hydrated

Well-hydrated muscles are more resistant to fatigue. Drinking when thirsty is a start, but thirst cues can be unreliable for busy dancers. In addition is the fear of needing to use the restroom during auditions, even with the opportunity to go between barre and center. Don’t let that fear get in the way of giving your muscles what they need—instead, proactively hydrate by making it a priority to drink water throughout the day. While every dancer’s hydration needs are different, the color of your urine is a good starting point to evaluate yours. Aim for a pale yellow in color. To get there, add a glass of water before heading out in the morning, and give yourself at least an hour prior to your audition to hydrate and use the bathroom. You can also use a reusable water bottle that reminds you to take small and frequent sips throughout the day.

Prepping, Right Up to the Night Before

As audition day approaches, continue to prioritize nutrient balance, but with an emphasis on complex carbohydrates. Adding granola to your yogurt, pretzels to your snacks, and a whole-grain breakfast cereal to your trail mix are just some examples. Rice, potatoes, and pasta will be helpful if you’re prepping meals for the day. During this time, stick to foods your body is accustomed to. Introducing new or unfamiliar foods can lead to digestive discomfort, which is the last thing you need during the audition.

Oatmeal porridge with berries, honey and cup of coffee on white table. Healthy breakfast food, vegetarian porridge oats bowl
Getty Images.

The Day Of

With just hours to go, food’s biggest role now is to top off your energy prior to the audition. Be wary of relying too heavily on caffeine. While a moderate amount of caffeine can enhance alertness, excessive consumption can lead to jitteriness. Start your day with a balanced and adequate breakfast. For example, pair eggs alongside wheat toast and smashed avocado. Low-fiber foods will also be easier to stomach. These include soft wheat bread, fruits without the peel (like bananas), and low-fiber breakfast cereals. For lunch, consider a portable option like a wrap with turkey, hummus, and sliced cooked veggies. (Cooking your veggies will increase their digestibility, helping to reduce the potential for gas and bloat.) And continue to hydrate—small sips will be more manageable than large gulps.

Depending on the time of your audition, a snack can help. In general, aim for a refuel within the 60 minutes prior to your audition. You can build a trail mix with nuts or seeds, dried fruit, and your favorite breakfast cereal to avoid energy crashes. A pre-made protein shake is another great addition, especially to support post-audition recovery when time is limited, or when a long commute home lies ahead.

As you gear up for auditions, remember that food is a tool, not an obstacle. Planning ahead will help your efforts to prioritize the balance and consistency needed to support your energy, strength, and focus on the big day. Merde!