Auditions and the Critic Within

WRITTEN BY Lena Nina Stawicka (exclusively for Audition Quest)

I will never forget my first audition. I was excited to finally be able to see what my chances in the dance industry actually were. I attended a private pantomime audition in my last year of college- it was the perfect opportunity and I put all my hopes into it. It gave me the confidence and experience I needed before graduating while solving my extremely difficult financial situation at the time. 

I went to London nervous but prepared and determined to get the job. I don’t remember the audition itself but I remember the piercing disappointment I felt after not getting it. I felt so sorry for myself, not only days, but weeks afterwards. It stole the confidence in my abilities and killed my hope of ever getting a dance job. I couldn’t think straight and for the first time in my years of training I thought “What’s the point?”

I know that sounds dramatic and it was. But I was young, scared and desperate. 

As much as those feelings affected me, I never gave up.

Ten years and hundreds of auditions later I learned two things:

  1. You’ll always care about the outcome of your audition. Whether good or bad you will be overwhelmed with feelings.
  2. You cannot let those feelings determine your future. 

The moments after an audition can be very heartbreaking if we were unsuccessful. All sorts of thoughts go through our minds, most of which are destructive. It’s normal. We all feel sad, frustrated and disappointed. It’s about not letting those feelings take over. 

How I learned to deal with failures is by giving myself a time frame for “feeling sorry for myself”. If I held it in and pretended I didn’t care it would come out eventually (ten times worse). So I decided to not stop myself from crying or shouting, I just gave it a time limit. I let myself feel all those sad, negative feelings for the first 24 hours after an audition then moved on. It made the process a bit easier. 

The next step was taking my lessons learned from that failed audition. It was essential I gave myself time before trying to construct any criticism or make any future decisions. The more auditions I attended, the more I found that the time frame got smaller and smaller- eventually I was able to figure out what went wrong and how to deal with it quickly.

Another aspect that helped is noticing that some things were simply out of my control. If they were looking for tall blonde girls I was set to fail before even getting a chance to dance. I’ve realised that, unfortunately, sometimes the look, size or hair colour is more important than the ability to execute the steps. The only thing I could do was my best- my best was either good enough or not. I either fit the brief or not. I learned to know when that was the case. I also wasn’t afraid to come up and ask for feedback. 

But what helped me most was practice. The more auditions I did, the better I felt (even though they were unsuccessful). The more I got used to auditioning the more I became confident, so felt and performed better. There were still numerous times I didn’t get the job but I left knowing I did my absolute best and that was reassuring. 

There’s no easy equation to solve the competitiveness and judgment (both our own and of others) of auditions. I relaxed a bit after realising it’s almost part of the job; as is daily training, taking classes and staying well connected and knowledgeable about the industry. Accepting that it’s just another stepping stone towards that dream helped me the most. A difficult but necessary stepping stone.

So, I’d say go and audition as much as you can, show your face, get rejected and learn from every time you put yourself out there. Remember: Only take in CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. If you feel yourself having destructive thoughts, you’re not yet ready to analyse the audition. Gain experience, determination and grow a thick skin. Go prepared, do your best and don’t be too hard on yourself.

When the day comes and you get that dream job, the feeling of pure joy will erase all the previous doubtful moments. Everything will fall into place and you’ll feel that all the sweat and tears were worth it. 

With persistence and determination, that dream job is very much attainable and all those failures along the way contribute to the final success.  

All you have to do is show up, keep calm and never give up.

Lena Stawicka

Lena is a professional dancer,dance teacher, choreographer, and a freelance writer. Originally from Poland, Lena found her passion for dance competing in Ballroom/Latin Dance tournaments nationwide. After relocating to Ireland, she trained at CSN Diploma in dance course in Cork then went onto further her training in the UK at Renaissance Arts.
In the last eight years, Lena enjoyed a successful career as a production dancer for many international companies both on land and at sea. She has experienced both the highs and lows in the dance world through hard work and determination and begun writing as a form of inspiration for others.

To view Lena’s Medium profile, please click here

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