It's the day of the dance callback. Assuming you've read my tips in Prepping for the Dance Call, Part 1, what can you expect on the day in question? Dance calls are largely a mind game, so don't freak out. Stay calm and focused, and follow these tips:
I think I was 25 years old before I figured out that what I put into my body will affect how it performs throughout the day. Be sure to start your day off right by eating breakfast, and not just a bowl of cereal. You'll burn through that on your commute. Protein coupled with starch will last the longest. Try an egg white sandwich or a protein-heavy smoothie and a breakfast bar. Bring snacks if you anticipate a long day. Complex carbohydrates are your best friend.
2. Tell a Story
The choreographer will almost certainly explain the circumstances to you under which the dance takes place. He or she will tell you that the storytelling is just as important, if not more important, than the dance steps themselves. If you are like me, you won't believe this person. I am the type of dancer who layers the storytelling once I've mastered the steps. Here's what I've learned: in the hour you have to audition, you may never master the steps, at least not to your standards. You need to be able to do it well enough, and then bring something to the movement that sets you apart from the others. They can teach you the movement. That's what rehearsal's for. What they can't teach is originality and the ability to bring yourself to the work.
3. Don't sweat the small stuff
So if the goal is to stand out by interpreting the material in a unique way, don't get tripped up over the smaller elements that may challenge you, such as a rhythm pattern here, a transition there. The bigger steps and pictures you will need to nail, of course. The point is, don't let yourself get flustered if there's a sequence you're not quite grasping. Fudge it, and move forward.
4. Ask questions
Then again, if there's something you're not getting, chances are, someone else isn't getting it, either. If you're struggling, ask! Find a specific way to ask your question. Try to avoid bland phrases like, "Can you go over [x] part?" It's much more useful to say something like, "I'm not getting the rhythm pattern on count 8, could we go over it?"
5. Get in the front.
One of the simplest questions you can ask is, "Would it be okay to switch lines?" They will most likely provide this opportunity. But if it's not happening soon enough, go ahead and ask. I learn choreography best in the front. Some people prefer to linger in the back until they've "mastered" it. Once again, you may never master the choreo to your liking, and the easiest way to get overlooked is to hide in the back. So try to swallow your fear and spend at least a little time in the front of the room. You may be surprised to find you pick up faster.
6. Watch your face
Okay, so say you do mess up. Do not let your face reveal this information! Just keep going. Keep smiling or glowering or whatever the combo requires! If I get really overwhelmed by choreography-- which happens to me frequently in tap auditions-- I will give extra face in an attempt to distract them from my heinous feet. Make that your mantra. "Look at my face, don't look at my feet." Once again, provided you don't totally biff, they can teach you the choreography in rehearsal. But it's up to you to fix your face.
7. Prepare to improv
The trend in NY is to give a few counts of freestyle somewhere in the combination, usually in the beginning or the end. Use this as your chance to make simple, appropriate choices that reveal the character within the movement. If you're not a dancer, you don't even have to dance this part. If you are a dancer, make good choices! Know that this is not the time to try new tricks. But it is time for tricks. If you have a specialty (back tuck, jump split, etc), work it in if it's appropriate. If not, keep your choice simple. They may ask for tricks at the end if they need them. And in theory, they're on you're resume under "special skills."
8. Clap for other dancers
Lastly, always take every opportunity to be a gracious, supportive performer. The days of the cutthroat, bitchy dancers are (mostly) behind us. It's all about positivity and support these days. So be kind to everyone, and applaud each group after their audition. Your bad attitude or behavior will stand out worse than if you were to face plant in the middle of a hitch kick. Be kind. It costs you nothing.