So You Think You Can Dance?: Three Tips for the Assistant Choreographer Application

3 tips assistant choreographer application

One of our favorite musical theatre moments is the bizarre(ly wonderful) “Turkey Lurkey Time” from Promises Promises (1969). Choreographed by Michael Bennett, this Act One closing number took Broadway by storm; Vogue ranked it one of the nine best Tony Awards performances of all-time, calling it “a mix of Mad Men meets Beyoncé’s 'Single Ladies' thrown in a sixties cocktail shaker.” (You might know this song and dance better from the 2003 cult classic Camp or even from when Glee mashed it up with “Let’s Have a Kiki.”) What makes this moment so magical? All of the phenomenal dance moves — especially that signature “Jingle Bells” move at the end. A talented choreographer can take a musical number from meh to OMG in just a few seconds. That’s why, at NTSA, we make sure that our assistant choreographers have extensive one-on-one mentoring and get tons of experience working with our ensembles.

Here we have our top three tips for acing your assistant choreographer application. (Assistant Choreographers: You’re applying through the Director Track.) Dance on!

1. Feature multiple dancers.

We’re sure your solo dance skills are impressive — but we want to see how your performers move in relation to one another. Musical theatre choreography is primarily used during ensemble numbers, so we want to see how you’d work with multiple dancers onstage. Don’t worry: You don’t need to work with an entire dance class of 20+ students to complete your audition video. Just call up a few of your closest friends (like three or four of them) and put together up to five minutes of material.

2. Consider editing together multiple songs.

We love this concept video from LA-based choreographer Bash Johnson. He’s edited together three completely different songs (and three completely different styles of dance) to give his viewer a comprehensive look at what he has to offer. Show us your moves on a ballad duet number and then surprise us and transition into an up-tempo pop-rock number. (Note that Bash doesn’t show us any of these songs in their entirety; instead, he looks for the moments that lend themselves to the most interesting choreography. Feel free to pick and choose the moments that you want to string together for your work sample — even if it’s ten seconds from one song and fifteen seconds from another.)

3. Tell a story through movement.

While telling a story through movement is always important in dance, it’s especially vital in musical theatre where numbers are expected to move the narrative forward in some way. So use your audition video to tell us a story. Who are these characters? What’s the conflict that they’re up against? How do they solve their problem? Use movement to build character, to show emotion, to set the tone, and to generate conflict. Make sure to keep your story simple. There’s a reason why classics (like girl-meets-boy, girl-loses-boy, girl-gets-boy-back) keep being retold over and over again. They’re compelling to watch onstage!

Once you've filmed your best choreography, CLICK HERE to submit your work to NTSA!

Posted on Dec 20, 2017 in Auditions  

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