Are You Prepared for Summer Intensive Auditions? Here Are Some Go-To Tips

January 24, 2023

January and February may bring snow, but for serious ballet students they are prime months for summer intensive auditions. Whether this is your first time auditioning or you’re a summer program veteran, here are some practical tips so you can put your best foot forward this year.

Prepare Ahead of Time

Believe it or not, there are things you can do before you even walk into the studio that will make a big difference. Read each school’s audition notice carefully—some ask for a headshot or dance photo in a specific position (such as first arabesque). Certain programs may require preregistration online or offer a discount for registering early, so look into what is being asked of you. Showing up unprepared may give a bad first impression.

Peter Stark, director and president of The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia, recommends that you have a photo available, even if photos are not required. He says you don’t need to spend a lot of money on professional printing—using computer paper at home is a good option. And don’t be concerned if the photo is returned: “Be prepared to take it back with you, because a lot of times people say will say they don’t need it,” Stark says.

Pay equal attention to how you fill out your registration materials. Stark asks even the youngest auditioners to fill out their paperwork without the help of an adult. “We look at that as a criterion of maturity. You should know your address, the name of your ballet school, how many years you’ve been on pointe—you should be able to fill out a simple form without going to your parents.”

Orlando Molina, a ballet teacher, is shown teaching class in a dance studio with floor-to-seiling windows. Two teenage female ballet students practice retiré on relevé at the barre, facing him. They wear leotards, tights and pink ballet slippers. Molina, in a face mask, black T-shirt, black pants and teaching sneakers, lifts his right arm up, demonstrating with encouragement.
Orlando Molina with students of Houston Ballet Academy’s Summer Intensive Program. Photo by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox, courtesy of Houston Ballet.

Arrive to the audition with plenty of time to check in, get comfortable with your surroundings and prepare for class. “I’ve experienced that often students start the audition without being warmed up,” says Orlando Molina, a faculty member at Houston Ballet Academy. “As a result, they don’t perform at their best. I highly suggest that students give themselves a good warm-up routine beforehand.” Remember that you know how your body feels and what it needs; take the time to prepare in a way that sets you up for success.

Dress to Impress

Be mindful of what you wear to the audition—again, read the requirements to see if there’s a dress code. Most schools prefer girls wear a solid-colored leotard with pink or skin-tone tights and boys a solid white shirt with black tights. “The audition class is not the moment for you to model your wardrobe,” says Molina. Stark agrees and adds, “There are some really beautiful leotards with a variety of designs on them, but it’s better to wear something solid and simple to an audition.” 

Additionally, make sure your hair is neatly back and out of the face. Any type of dangling or large jewelry should be left at home. A pair of small earrings or a single ring is fine, but, Stark notes, “no necklaces, bracelets or watches—it’s obstructive to the lines.”

Focus and Demeanor

Your attitude and attention to detail may count for more than you realize. Entering the room with a positive attitude and keeping your attention on the teacher is especially important. Try not to get distracted by the dancers around you or to lose focus in center if the class is divided into groups. Molina says, “During class, students must stay engaged with the teacher, mark every exercise, and learn every detail of each combination.” Leaning on a barre or chatting during class may come off as rude or overly casual.

Stark recommends maintaining a positive outlook and to simply try your best. In an audition the adjudicator considers your potential and talent, but also assesses what level to place you in. “Sometimes I give combinations that are intentionally a little hard to see where I would place a dancer,” says Stark. “I know that I want to accept the student, and I’m trying to figure out what they know to place them appropriately in the program—it is a pre-assessment.” Don’t get discouraged if you make a mistake or struggle with a particular step, he adds. Teachers want to work with students who maintain a confident mindset and work to the best of their ability.

Lauren Anderson, dressed in a black tank top and yoga pants, coaches a Black teenage ballet student as she does a piqué arabesque on pointe. The rest of the class stands near the dance studio walls and watches. All of the girls wear gray leotards, pink tights and pink pointe shoes.
Lauren Anderson teaches class at Houston Ballet Academy’s Summer Intensive Program. Photo by Lawrence Elizabeth Knox, courtesy Houston Ballet.

Summer intensive auditions can be daunting, but remember that you are showing your potential and work ethic—a missed pirouette or balance doesn’t represent who you are as a dancer! With a little planning and research into summer intensives, you can walk into the studio feeling prepared, confident and ready to dance at your best!

Additional Tips


  • Be polite and kind to your teacher and fellow auditioners.
  • Perform! Smile and show your love of dance.
  • Research the school prior to your audition. “I recommend students get very familiar with the type of school or company they would like to audition for,” says Molina. “Knowing the teaching style of the school will give you an idea of what to expect from the audition class.”


  • Comparing yourself to other dancers in the room. Focus on being the best dancer you can be in the moment.
  • Showing frustration or negative emotion if you are struggling with an exercise.
  • Wearing legwarmers or any type of baggy cover-ups.