Video - Panta Rei Danseteater 'Lullaby'
Norwegian dance company Panta Rei Danseteater, late last year, conducted a little experiment whereby three dance makers created two pieces with the same name based on the same idea, featuring three male dancers and two musicians, to see what the outcome was.
June 2nd, 2016watch now
Here in TheLab™ we get a lot of audition notices for a wide variety of jobs. Sometimes there's a problem though and its usually with the way the notice is written.
More often than not notices are composed so that they can be printed out and displayed on a noticeboard (apparently people still use those things). This involves a lot of FULL CAPS writing, an excess of information and, often times, bullet points.
At the other extreme we have notices that amount to little more than an email address and a date alongside a proclamation that "we need dancers" so come on down.
Such notices are of little help to the dancers looking for work because too much information is a pain and too little information, especially if they have never heard of you, might put them off applying in the first place.
Most dancers pick up auditions online and notices that are formatted for print end up looking messy and confusing if they are not reformatted for on-screen presentation.
The Middle Ground
People don't like reading lists of things especially very long lists of things. Anybody who knows how to read finds it much easier to rapidly take in information when it's formatted into simple, short paragraphs.
We are, after all, talking about auditions notices, not the next Great American Novel.
For the purposes of this piece we have created the entirely fictional, and yet completely plausible, Custard Company of Dance, they create work that is, predominantly, about custard.
First of all, introduce yourself
"The Custard Company of Dance is a small-scale contemporary dance company based in Edinburgh and we specialise in creating dance theatre work for touring to schools and theatres."
To start off with you have told them who you are, where you are and the kind of work that you make. If you are located in an obscure town or city then mention the name of the country. We put country IDs next to auditions but not everybody does that.
Next up, tell them what you need.
"We are looking for 4 professional dancers who have either 3 years professional performing and touring experience or a recent graduates who can demonstrate exceptional performance ability. Our choreography is predominantly contemporary based with a lot of physical partnering and floor work. An aptitude for teaching young people would be an advantage."
Two more sentences and you've laid down the technical/professional requirements that you need from your dancers. If you specifically need male or female dancers then say so but if not, leave that information out.
Dancers can only be male or female, we don't have dancing robots just yet.
Then we move on to when you will need the dancers and what for.
"The creative period for the work is from June 1st to July 1st, this will take place in Edinburgh. We have touring booked throughout Scotland from July 4th until September 12th. Employment between those dates will not be full time. Current bookings will require 22 days of commitment between those dates."
Now, it might be tempting to include a list of exact dates the dancers will be on the payroll and if it's just two shows on two specific dates then ok. If not, your notice can easily become a massively confusing list of dates and times.
Professional dancers are used to working multiple projects so if they really need an exact break down they will ask for it. Have the exact breakdown handy in a simple text file so if somebody emails you for it you can reply straight away.
Finally, you specify pay levels and how they can get in touch with you.
"Pay for rehearsals is £425 per week plus travel costs to and from Edinburgh if you live outside the city. Shared accommodation will be provided if needed. For touring the pay is £125 per performance plus all travel costs and an additional £65 per "travelling day". Workshops will be paid at £45 per hour. To apply or for more information send your CV and a link to your video showreel to [email protected]"
There you go. 132 words and you've told dancers exactly what you need and exactly what they get in return for coming to work with you.
Auditions by their very nature of course are always a little bit different but try as hard as possible to decant the information you need into as short a notice as possible.
The notice should be about getting a dancers attention. If they need more details then they will ask for them and it's easy to keep more detailed info in a pre-prepared document or on your company's website.
Well formatted, short notices can also be copied and pasted into various formats very easily, like emails, cell-phone note applications etc.
Finally, a word of warning. Under no circumstances should you require dancers to fill out an application form. Dancers are a pretty nomadic bunch and don't always have access to the their own laptops or the correct software to fill in a Word document.
If they only have access to a cell phone or a tablet then the inherent file system restrictions on these devices may make it impossible for them to edit your application form. Think about how people are going to get their information to you.
All you're doing is adding a layer of unnecessary complexity to what should be a very simple process. Emailing a CV should be more than enough along with a video showreel if they have one. Don't make things harder than they already are.