You signed up for an ECC, showed up at 9:30, belted Q's at 10:15, and beat out literally 100 other people to get... a callback.
I dance well, so I love it when I get called back from a singer call to dance with the "movers." Even though this sometimes led to another dance call, this time with the true dancers, I always felt that, thanks to years of training, I had a competitive edge.
However, I know many singer/actors out there for whom the phrase "dance call" sends them into paroxysms of terror. I understand this too because I feel this way when I have to dance first. It's not my actual dance ability so much as the fear of the unknown that gets to me. I am a person who likes to Prepare, and with songs and sides, I can do that. But how to prepare for a dance call? Here are my suggestions, which also apply to those for whom dance calls are a breeze.
1. Do your research.
If, like me, what you fear is the unknown, see how much you can learn before the audition begins. Research the show first. You will be asked to tell a story within the confines of the combination. Know who the characters are and where the show takes place. (Example: cowboys and farm girls, Oklahoma.) Then learn as much as you can about the creative team, particularly the choreographer. See if you and he or she have any mutual friends on social media. If so, send your friend a message asking about their experience. Some choreographers favor big jumps, for example, or fan kicks. Some will always do ballet first. Then see if that choreographer or any of his/her assistants are teaching class in the city. Which leads to....
2. Take a class.
Ideally, you're in dance class two to three times a week to keep your #skillz up. If not, now's the time to cram. I definitely pick up combinations better if I've been using that part of my brain in class. You don't have to do everything in class perfectly. But you do have to pick up, and you do have to do your best, which is all you can do in the audition anyway. So practice this. It's its own skill.
3. Find an outfit.
When I got to NY, I had a full suite of outfits to wear to traditional auditions... but nothing to wear to dance calls. I mean, I had dance clothes. But I hadn't taken the time to put together what looked best on me and what made me stand out in the room. Through trial and error, I figured it out. Don't be like me. Take the time in the days leading up to the audition to figure out what will make you feel comfortable and, yes, sexy. Hide your flaws and accentuate the positive. If you need to buy something new to make you feel good about yourself, I'm all for it. You'll get your money's worth when you book the job.
4. Figure out your routine.
What do you need to do to feel prepared the day of? In an ideal world I will get up, eat a light breakfast, take the barre portion of a ballet class, go home, shower, eat and vocalize (not always in that order), and then start to put on my game face. I will do hair and basic makeup at home, but finish my eyes at the studio because I've learned my makeup might smear on the subway or in humidity. There isn't always time for all this. Sometimes a yoga podcast will fill in for the ballet barre. Sometimes I have a full morning and have to improvise. Figure all of this out the night before. And be sure to get a good night's sleep!
5. Meditate or find a friend.
The waiting room at a dance call may be the most intimidating stop on your way to Broadway. People are dressed skimpily to the nines, extending legs overhead and avoiding eye contact. I am a well-seasoned, flexible, gorgeous performer myself. But I have to remind myself of this, mantra-style, whenever I walk into a dance audition to this day. ("I am an experienced, gorgeous, talented performer, and I've got this.")
You can do one of two things. You can find music that you puts you in a good head space, plug your headphones in, and pump up the volume. (While repeating your own mantra, of course. Feel free to borrow mine.) Or you need to find a friend. Eventually, you will know someone at every audition you attend. Hopefully you will like this person. Until then, find another person who looks like a deer in the headlights, or maybe somebody who looks familiar from that ECC. Plop down next to them and say something like, "I hate dance calls." Then see if you can steer the conversation away from the subject entirely. The point is not to make a friend so much as to kill time distracting yourself from the task at hand. And if you make a friend in the meantime, great!
Stay tuned for part two: keeping your head during the dance call.