By Mia Lyndon of auditionquest.co.uk
Harriet Metham is a UK professional dancer, who has had the opportunity of performing both nationally and internationally. Having performed professionally in The Maldives, Switzerland and within Africa, Audition Quest got chatting with Harriet about her experiences.
1. What have you achieved as a professional dancer?
To be honest, as a professional dancer, you never feel like you’ve achieved quite ‘enough’- well, I don’t anyway! I’m always striving , hustling and pushing for the next great job/gig- this keeps a fire inside me and keeps me motivated.
I didn’t start dancing professionally until late 2018, yet in this short time, I’ve had some amazing contracts abroad and met some of the most kindest and talented dancers on the way.
I would say my biggest achievement is starting from complete scratch and building up a good reputation for myself- forming good working relationships with companies that now regularly hire me, I’m definitely proud of that!
2. How did you reach this- what did you do before you landed your first professional job?
I reached a professional dancing standard by countless hours of training, attending classes from a very small age and then making the decision that this was the career path for me in my teen years.
As an amateur dancer, I used to perform week in week out in shows, competitions and exams which helped me build a good repertoire of technique that still stays with me today. Before I landed my first professional job, I was dabbling in all sorts- from starting my A-Levels (in nothing dance related!), working in retail, working in a salon, to name just a few!
But I eventually moved onto teaching dance/fitness classes and then decided to take the leap into the industry. I started emailing, auditioning, working hard and getting my name out there, until I was lucky enough to land my first job. (The best feeling ever !)
3. What did you do whilst training at a younger age, that helped you achieve your goals?
When I became serious about dance (in my teen years), I started attending classes 6 nights a week- so I would go to school, then dance school till around 9:00PM or 10:00PM! I got involved with everything and anything dance related in my community, at my school and with my friends. I also use to practice, practice, practice at home, I never stopped moving!
As I got slightly older, I started to attend open days at dance colleges that I thought I’d like, which meant moving around the country to get to the best classes and workshops I could. All this put me through my paces and helped me create the shift into professional training.
I think that the main thing I did when I was younger was committ all my ‘free time’ to dance- which was a big commitment, but it has certainly paid off.
4. What are your best and worst audition experiences?
I’ve had a massive mixture of positive and negative audition experiences. Positive audition experiences are not always actually getting the job, but are learning a lot from the day, networking with new dancers, finding my weak points, learning to take criticism and understand that the answer no isn’t always the end of that particular journey.
When I first started auditioning, I found that I’d beat myself up massively after not being successful, questioning everything about myself. But, as time is going on in my career, I’m trying to find reasons to be positive after all audition days- thinking what I can do better next time, what to take from it, and taking onboard any experience.
I’ve found the whole audition process is dependant on your attitude, and how you’re made to feel on the day. I’ve had times when I’ve walked in and felt completely overwhelmed and other times where I’ve felt comfortable and it’s made me more likely to perform and show my talent.
When I started auditioning for dance colleges, I gained two places in great schools, which was a massive confidence boost. It was one of the first times, as a young dancer, where I thought ‘wow I can actually do this’.
Negative auditioning experiences can help build up that ‘thick skin’ that you definitely need as a dancer. It’s comments that trigger an insecurity that really stick with you- they can often be hard to shake off!
5. What are your best audition tips?
One of my fellow dancers told me ‘treat auditions as a free class’, so that means going in with an open mind, treating the audition just like taking a class and take new things in your stride!
It’s often hard but try and enjoy auditions- if you are anxious, you’re more likely to go wrong, as nerves can get the better of us all. I’d say the more you audition, the more these nerves settle.
Another tip would to be presentable and professional throughout the whole audition, even in introduction (first impressions count!). Also, don’t be afraid to show personality- I’ve found that always performing ‘full out’ makes you stand out from the crowd, it’s eye catching so use your face!
Last tip is to research the company/agency/job you are auditioning for first. See if you can find any past performances and look through information about the company/college- it’ll give you a clearer idea of what to expect!
6. What is the best piece of advice you’ve learnt as a professional dancer?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given during my time as a professional dancer is have confidence. Low confidence can definitely hold me back and it shouldn’t- if you appreciate yourself more, your career is more likely to take off.
Never have a bad attitude during any job or with any other dancer, manager or client. Word gets round quickly in the dance world, so stay professional, kind and respectful- if employers know you are a good, kind and reliable person you are more than likely to be used again and again!
Harriet is a professional dancer from the UK. Going professional in 2018, Harriet has worked very hard to network, audition and push herself to land some great jobs in and out of the UK. She has performed internationally, in countries such as Switzerland and The Maldives and within the continent of Africa, to name a few. Harriet has goals of seeing more of the world and performing in more destinations. A versatile and multi-skilled dancer, Harriet simply lives for her craft.