As one of the UK’s flagship dance training schemes, One Youth Dance UK (London) is the ultimate platform to kick-start your dance career.

As a One Youth Dance member, you’ll be part of a performing dance company, receiving training from industry-leaders in a variety of styles.

With the One Youth Dance annual auditions looming, I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing both Joanna Shaw (One Youth Dance Director & Principal) and T-ala Marsh, a current company member (@teemash on insta).

For more information about One Youth Dance, please visit their website.

What does the audition day involve?

JOANNA: ‘We hold our auditions over two days. At the first round, you’ll take part in a jazz class which will include everything you’d expect; a cardio warm up, stretching, conditioning and corner work. Following this, there are two choreography sections, one commercial and one contemporary. We’ll teach short sections of choreography to the group, and you will then perform these in smaller groups for the panel, usually five dancers at a time.’

T-ALA: ‘When we arrived we were given a number and had to hand in a picture of us. The day ran very smoothly as I think each section of auditions had a time slot that it kept to well.’

How are you assessed?

JOANNA: ‘The panel don’t see information about your previous experience during the first round, so that everyone auditioning is stepping into the room completely equal. We mark you entirely based on what we see on the day, and try not to make decisions influenced by what you may or may not have done before.’

T-ala, as an auditionee, how did you feel throughout the day?

T-ALA: ‘We were welcomed by some One Youth students who were extremely welcoming- all the students here are so lovely. Everyone is in the same situation, so there’s a comfortable environment between the auditionees. Throughout the day, I felt really comfortable- it was just like taking a normal class. I knew that being part of the company would be like joining the One Youth family.’

What is the audition panel looking for?

JOANNA: ‘First and foremost we look for natural potential. If you haven’t been dancing for long, or haven’t had much technical training, we encourage you to come along. Of course experience will help you in the audition, but finding natural talent is what’s most important to us – if you have the tools and the right attitude then we can give you the training that you need.’

T-ALA: ‘I think the panel are looking for a good work ethic above all else and how hard you push yourself, so I would say definitely just work through the pain in the warm up and push yourself. I also think performance is important, so don’t just focus on the steps- perform them. Obviously technique is important and I tried to definitely show mine- but don’t worry too much as they understand we are all still learning. I’m not the most flexible, but I just worked through all the stretches and really pushed myself. I would just say work through your weaker points as you will always be able to improve them.’

Is there a recall audition?

JOANNA: ‘Following this first round audition you will receive an outcome within 48 hours. If you are successful at this stage you will be invited to the recall which usually takes place a week from the first audition. At the recall you will take part in a more technical contemporary class, with some classical exercises in the centre. You will then learn a longer section of jazz choreography, perform this in small groups, and finally take part in a creative task. We then hold individual interviews where the team will get to know you better as a person.’

What is the best thing to wear?

T-ALA: ‘Just wear whatever you feel comfortable in, I wore dance tights, shorts and a top- but many people just wore leggings and a top. Put your hair up in a way that is comfortable and secure, so you won’t have to worry about it during the audition.’

What happens if you are successful?

JOANNA: ‘After the recall you’ll hear whether you’ve made it into the company within 48 hours. Typically, if you are accepted, you’ll have about two weeks to get all your registration forms back to us and settle your first terms fees. If you are unsuccessful at any stage you can request feedback from us and we will give this to you in as much detail as possible.’

Is there anything that needs to be prepared before the day?

JOANNA: ‘You don’t need to prepare anything in advance. We will teach everything to you on the day and you will always dance in a group, never alone.’

Why should you apply for One Youth Dance?

JOANNA: ‘We provide a unique training programme replicating a vocational course combimining training in jazz, contemporary, hip hop and commercial. We also hold regular one-to-one tutorials with each of our dancers to track their progress, and perform throughout the year. The company have danced at the Tower of London, won the National Youth Dance Festival and even performed for the Queen and Royal Family at Buckingham Palace. We’re also a huge family and you’ll make friends at One Youth for life!’


First round | 19th April 2020

Recall | 26th April 2020


For more information about One Youth Dance, please visit their website

A massive thank you goes to both Joanna and T-ala for providing such wonderful information and advice about the One Your Dance auditions.

Joanna is also the creator of Girls Group & Co, a collective of young women and girl bosses. She runs regular events in central London, to inspire and motivate young women. For more info, check out @girlsgroupco on Instagram.

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