Built upon the legacy of Alvin Ailey, the Ailey School lives up to the calibre of its founder. Offering a dedicated provision of world-class, rigorous training, the Ailey School is amongst one of the best contemporary training providers in the world. Click here to discover more.

Audition Quest had the absolute pleasure of interviewing Lily, a current Ailey School student, about her audition process. Including advice, tips and information, read below for everything you need to know about being successful in your audition at The Ailey School.

1. What did the audition day involve?

Auditionees will usually arrive around 10/11 am. You will be given a specific time to arrive and check in. When you arrive, you will be assigned a studio or space to warm up and prepare yourself before you are invited into the audition room.

The audition is normally an hour and a half. You begin with ballet center and then end the audition with a Horton-based floor combination.

Once the audition is finished, you will thank each teacher in the room, return your number, and wait to hear the results which will most likely be emailed to you in about two weeks.

2. What was the vibe like- did you feel welcomed?

I’ve always felt welcomed in an Ailey audition. It really just depends on the other dancers who are in the audition with you. Most times it feels pretty competitive, but Ailey is a very prestigious dance school so it doesn’t surprise me that the talent in the room would be intimidating.

Don’t let your insecurities overpower you. You are there for a reason. Never compare yourself to others. The Ailey School teachers and staff are extremely kind and professional.

3. How difficult were the audition classes and how tough was the level of competition?

It really just depends on where you are at technically as a dancer. Most auditions have challenging yet straight forward combinations to help give a clear show of where everyone is at.

If you have a strong ballet background and a clear understanding of modern or contemporary dance, the audition will be pretty straight forward. Mentality is another huge factor in auditions. The combination may not be technically challenging, but mentally it will push you to prove that you are a “smart” dancer.

4. How many dancers did you audition with?

There are thousands of people who show up to audition. Due to the large amount of people, there are normally 3/4 audition groups throughout the day, to help even out the number of people in each group.

5. What would you say is the best thing to wear?

The best thing to wear would probably be a solid color leotard (preferably black), pink convertible ballet tights, and pink ballet slippers for ballet. For the Horton combination there isn’t much time to change, so dancers should just prepare themselves to take their ballet slippers off and roll up their pink tights. Hair needs to be slicked back and off of the face. No jewelry or warmups.

6. Were you given any other information about funding, housing, or building tours?

When auditioning for any program, it is important to do your research before hand. Some schools give out scholarships and financial aid, but others don’t. If cost is a key factor in acceptance, learn about it before your audition. The Ailey School does offer merit based scholarships. There are separate auditions for scholarship. Ailey does offer building tours. All of the Ailey information can be found on their website.

7. Is there anything that you need to take along or prepare?

The Ailey School does not require head shots or resume’s to be brought in the day of the audition. You should bring water in a plastic water bottle, headphones to listen to music when warming up, and a small snack in case you are waiting.

8. What would you say are your tips for people that haven’t auditioned there before?

My best tip for somebody who hasn’t auditioned for the Ailey School, would be to come ready to DANCE. Yes, Ailey teaches technique, but what they are also looking for is a dancer who is not afraid to take risks or make artistic choices. Be noticed. Be fearless. Take risks.


Lily Brown began dancing with The Ailey School in 2017 during their Junior Division Summer Intensive. She returned the next summer and it was then that she auditioned for their year round pre professional program. She was accepted and moved to NYC to pursue dance while finishing her senior year of high school. Lily is currently in their Professional Division on Scholarship.

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