Resetting the way we look at auditions

Dancers' experiences on what it is like to audition for "Reset."

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Graphic courtesy of Or-El Ankori '25

On Sept. 4 and 5, the Dance Department held auditions for “Reset: New Dances,” an annual student-choreographed dance show. This year, dancers enrolled in Advanced Composition II were set with the task of hosting  auditions, and will create their own five-to-seven minute piece. “Reset” will premiere Nov. 16-18.

I’m relatively new to the dance world, as I had never stepped into a dance studio before college. So, in this article I’m going to share what my experience was like auditioning for “Reset,” along with other dancers and even the choreographers who held auditions.

This year, because there are 12 choreographers who all have different styles and ideas for their pieces, auditions were split into two days from 7:00-9:00 p.m. There were four different audition groups of three choreographers each. On each day, two groups of three choreographers would audition dancers for their pieces using a short combination with elements of their style. That being said, if one went to every audition, you learned four different combinations and danced for four sets of choreographers. 

It sounds like a lot, I know, but in this way, if you were having an off day, or even an off hour, you would have a clean slate for the next set of choreographers.

Emma Lindquist ‘26 shared, “I appreciated that each section of the audition had different choreography and their own vibes. It was fun getting to learn all the material.”

“I appreciated that each section of the audition had different choreography and their own vibes. It was fun getting to learn all the material.”

Emma Lindquist ’26

Regarding her reasoning as to why she auditioned for “Reset,” Maria Wetzel ‘26 shared, “I auditioned for ‘Reset’ because it’s inspiring to be a part of the process of creating a dance piece. The student-choreographed shows have a different vibe than the faculty show. It feels like a community of dancers supporting each other, and there’s so much to learn from the other students.”

Auditioning for literally anything can be scary, but auditioning for a dance show at Muhlenberg is pretty great. While I have auditioned for “In Motion ‘23” and “Dance Emerge ‘23,” two dance shows that premiere annually in the spring, this was my first time auditioning for “Reset.” That being said, I found it really comforting that Reset auditions were held in the spaces where I usually have my dance classes. My familiarity with the space helped me feel comfortable being myself.

Rowan Hauk ‘25 agreed, saying, “As someone that has the perspective of auditioning for a lot of summer intensives and companies over the years, Muhlenberg is a very warm and inviting audition space, which is a huge rarity. You just won’t experience the same cutthroat [attitude] or vindictiveness that you find in a lot of the corporate dance spaces.”

One of the choreographers for this year’s “Reset,” Kerry Kaufman ‘24, who has also auditioned for many Muhlenberg dance shows, shared, “I think Muhlenberg auditions are a kind of gift. The environment is mostly very kind and supportive; the other dancers in the room are typically classmates and friends. Knowing the people in the room has taken [the] stress out of auditions for me in the past here at ‘Berg; I feel relaxed and have the ability to remain present in the room. Auditions here have provided opportunities to practice auditioning where the stakes are low and therefore have built my confidence in my ability to attend and perform during auditions.”

I’ve learned that when auditioning for a dance show, it’s best to always show up at least 15 minutes early. It gives you ample time to check in and warm up, which is absolutely necessary as you don’t want to injure yourself. At the “Reset” audition, it began with the choreographers introducing themselves and sharing more information about their piece. 

For the next hour, we learned a short combination, had time to ourselves to practice it on our own and went through it a few times as a group before auditioning in smaller groups. Something I found really helpful was that the choreographers were open to answering any questions we had and were willing to repeat a phrase multiple times if someone asked (i.e. me). 

“My experiences as a dancer heavily influenced how I wanted to hold our audition. I really wanted to eliminate as much unnecessary stress from the audition as possible because I don’t think we dance our best when we’re too in our heads. So in collaboration with Dani Medvedovski ‘24 and Leanna Niesen ‘24, we choreographed a shorter combination with an emphasis on improvisation which allowed for more processing time for the dancers and more opportunities to watch the dancers as well,” Kaufman said.

“My experiences as a dancer heavily influenced how I wanted to hold our audition. I really wanted to eliminate as much unnecessary stress from the audition as possible because I don’t think we dance our best when we’re too in our heads. So in collaboration with Dani Medvedovski ‘24 and Leanna Niesen ‘24, we choreographed a shorter combination with an emphasis on improvisation which allowed for more processing time for the dancers and more opportunities to watch the dancers as well.”

Kerry Kaufman ’24

Performing in small groups for the choreographers can be scary. You’re usually numbered so depending on your number, you can be in the first group to perform or the last. I was in the first group for every audition slot, which was anxiety-inducing because that left little time to go over the combination. But, my advice is to just go for it. 

If time permits, you usually do the combination twice in groups and then one last time with everyone as a whole. This can be really helpful because one time, I remember doing the combination and forgetting the entire dance, always a step behind. Another time, I skipped a move and was a step ahead of everyone else. At other times, I was killing it and doing everything exactly the way I wanted to. It’s really up to chance, and at the end of the day the key is to be kind to yourself. 

After auditions are over, rest. I know that’s what I did. Cast lists usually come out a few days after the auditions and so then it’s a waiting game. 

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