Planning a career in dance? Here are some things to think about when choosing colleges to apply to plus some audition tips.
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Audition Tips

Professional Dance Training and Dance Teacher Training at Dance For All, Edinburgh.

Here are some dance college audition tips and advice for budding professional dancers. Make sure you also scroll down to check out:

  • Tips to prepare for the day of your audition
  • Questions to ask your prospective colleges
  • Advice from our students, graduates and tutors in the comments

> Find out when our next Audition is.

Dance College Audition Tips

If you attend weekly dance classes, ask your teacher/s for audition advice. Many teachers have also worked as dancers, making it through tough auditions themselves and may be able to give valuable advice.

Do some research: most colleges have a list of their Directors and Tutors on their websites, as well as information on past and upcoming shows, course details, graduate success stories and more.

Try to think about what your priorities are regarding the type of course you are looking for – look at the range and levels of dance genres taught on the course.

Will you have opportunities to take vocational exams? This can often be a good indication of a thorough technical training, alongside performance work.

Do you want to become a dance teacher one day or have teaching as a option – are these qualifications available at your college choices?

What are the dance photos like on the website? Do they demonstrate high standards of technique and of versatile dancers who have had a strong all-round training?

Do they have reviews from students & graduates on their website &/or social media?

All this will give you a feel for each college, what you will be taught and if you can picture yourself there. Many colleges will also hold Open Days during the Winter term, but if you missed an open day you may be able to arrange a visit. Click the tabs below for more advice and tips + what important questions to ask each college you audition for…

On Audition Day

  • Work out your travel plans in advance and leave plenty of time for your journey – arrive with time to register, change, stretch and warm up for class
  • Familiarise yourself with any requirements, such as dress codes and prepared routines
  • Wear appropriate clothing – the panel want to see your shape – don’t hide under too many layers of jumpers and leg warmers!
  • Bring some water to drink and a snack to boost your energy

At The Audition

Be professional. There’s no need to be pushy, a show-off or overly boastful – the panel are looking for great dancers, but also someone who is willing to learn, responds well to feedback and is enthusiastic and passionate about dance.

If you make a mistake, try not to make a face, stop or show your disappointment – the panel may not notice a small mistake and if they do, they will see you handling it like a professional.

If you are given specific exercises or choreography, do exactly what is asked – don’t tweak the routine to show off, you may have a chance to perform your own piece as well.

If you are given corrections, listen carefully and take them on. This shows the panel have been watching you and are interested enough to want to see more.

Perform as if you are in front of an audience. Smile, show emotion and make eye contact with the panel.

Do let your personality shine through as much as possible. Try to relax and show your level of artistry. Dance colleges want to see your passion and enthusiasm for dance, how you mix in a groupas well as your:

  • motivation
  • determination
  • self-discipline
  • musicality
  • physical ability
  • talent
  • personality

Leave a great impression, thank the panel (and pianist). You can politely ask by which date you will be contacted. Hopefully your audition will be a success, but if you are contacted with bad news treat it as an opportunity for feedback – they may tell you that you’re almost ready and to try again at their next auditions. An audition panel is often most impressed by a return auditionee who has taken on board prior feedback and made a significant improvement.

Good Luck – You’ll be Fantastic!

What to Ask of Your Prospective Dance Training College

It is a good idea to find out some of the following information to compare and help you decide which colleges you want to apply to and, if you’re offered a place at more than one college, where to accept.

We go into more detail with each question below + share the answers you can expect from Dance For All.

  1. What happens during your open day? What’s the format of the Audition day?
  2. What grades or skills are needed for entry onto the course?
  3. Do only a select number of students get to perform each year, or is every student in every year group guaranteed an opportunity to perform?
  4. How many performances are held per year?
  5. The course says “full-time training” – how many hours a week will I be at college?
  6. What styles of dance will be taught?
  7. What qualifications will I get?
  8. What are the fees and are there any additional expenses?
  9. At the end of my course, what range of career options will I have in front of me?
  10. Where are your dance graduates working?
  11. What funding will I have access to?


1. What happens during your open day? What’s the format of the Audition day?

Each college will have their own format. Some open days will involve you simply observing studio classes, while others may involve talks &/or participatory classes, so check with each college you’re visiting. 

At Dance For All our Open Day includes:

  • observing studio classes
  • participating in a jazz dance class
  • a demonstration from current students
  • a talk from our Principal & Artistic Director, Tracy Hawkes
  • Q&A session with tutors and students
  • –> more Open Day details

DFA’s Audition days involve:

  • a commercial jazz workshop
  • a ballet workshop
  • our Principal & Artistic Director’s talk
  • your individual audition of a 2-minute piece in your chosen genre
  • –> Audition & apply


2. What grades or skills are needed for entry onto the course?

Most dance colleges offer places purely on audition alone, but certain course elements may require some minimum qualifications, such as HND Dance, which requires at least two Highers or relevant NC pass at SCQL Level 6.


3. Do only a select number of students get to perform or is every student in every year group guaranteed an opportunity to perform each year?

At Dance For All we ensure all of our students have the opportunity to perform regularly and our third year students are given solos in the end of year graduating showcases. However, we have heard from our previous NC or HND students that some performing arts colleges audition their students for their shows.


4. How many performances are held per year?

It’s useful to find out how many performances you can expect each year. Dance For All perform at the Go Dance festival in Glasgow as well as producing two of our own college shows; the Spring Fling and End of Year Graduating Showcase. Our students have also been invited to perform at numerous events and openings in Edinburgh.


5. The course says “full-time training” – how many hours a week will I be at college?

Courses at Further Education colleges, such as HNDs, will be a maximum of 2 ½ days per week. At Dance For All the HND is part of our course and is incorporated into our full-time training, so you will be attending full-time 5 days per week from Monday to Friday, with additional ‘out-of-office-hours’ required for shows and rehearsals – see our College Prospectus.


6. What styles of dance will be taught?

This is important, because some schools may focus more time on contemporary or musical theatre. At Dance For All, ballet underpins our training, as ballet provides a strong foundation of technique and body conditioning for all forms of dance. As a comparison, our course covers: 

  • RAD* Ballet
  • ISTD* Tap
  • ISTD* Modern
  • ISTD* National
  • SDS* Spanish & Flamenco Dance
  • Contemporary Dance
  • Commercial Dance
  • Jazz Dance
  • Lyrical Dance
  • Street & Urban Dance
  • Performance techniques
  • Choreography
  • Improvisation
  • Audition Portfolio
  • Gymnastics
  • Aerial
  • Singing
  • Musical Theatre
  • Anatomy
  • Body Conditioning
  • Benesh Notation
  • Contextual Studies, including Dance History & Appreciation, Physiology, Teaching Methodology etc.
  • Dance Teacher Training, including ISTD* DDI & DDE (see next question)

*RAD: Royal Academy of Dance; ISTD: Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing; SDS: Spanish Dance Society.


7. What qualifications will I get?

You may leave college with one qualification, eg an HND or BA, or your chosen college may offer additional industry-specific qualifications.

At Dance For All we offer the following professional dance performance qualifications:

  • NQ Advanced Higher Dance, in collaboration with Edinburgh College
  • HND in Professional Dance Performance, in collaboration with Edinburgh College
  • RAD Ballet examinations to Advanced 2 level 
  • ISTD Modern, Tap and National examinations to Advanced 2 level 
  • Spanish Dance Society examinations (we are the only Spanish Dance Society training centre in Scotland)

And we also offer the following dance teacher qualifications:

  • ISTD Diplomas in Dance Instruction (DDI)
  • ISTD Diplomas in Dance Education (DDE)
  • Trinity College’s Certificate in Safe & Effective Dance Practice
  • Placement and mentoring for those wishing to train as an RAD teacher


8. What are the fees and are there any additional expenses?

Many vocational dance colleges have fees associated with their full-time training which can range from £7,000 – £16,000, which will not be fully covered by the awarding body, such as SAAS (HNDs are typically 2 ½ days per week).

At Dance For All, our course incorporates the HND into our full-time training, which gives eligible students access to SAAS bursaries, HND tuition fee payments and student loans. Like most vocational dance colleges we have fees for the private tuition parts of our course, but they are much less than the above figures and we keep our vocational fees as affordable as possible. 

At as a dance college student, you will have additional course-related expenses, such as:

  • College uniform
  • Dancewear (DFA: leotards & tights, Flamenco & Ballet character skirts)
  • Dance shoes (DFA: Ballet, pointe, character, Tap, Flamenco & Jazz shoes)
  • Stage make-up
  • Stage costumes (DFA: low fees for hire & cleaning)
  • Examination fees (DFA: RAD, ISTD & SDS examinations)

See our Dance College Course page to access our most recent fees and expenses breakdown.


9. At the end of my course, what range of career options will I have in front of me?

This question will help you understand the focus of each college course to see if it’s in-line with your career plans.

The training from Dance For All gives you many options. You can:

  • Perform, as a:
    • Professional Dancer
    • Choreographer
    • Dance Captain
    • Musical Theatre Artiste
    • Professional Dance Performer
    • Freelance Dance Artist
    • Entertainment Agency Dancer
    • International Dance Company Artist
  • Teach, as a:
    • Dance Class Teacher
    • Dance College Tutor
    • Dance School Owner
  • Work in the charitable/non-profit sector, eg as a:
    • Dance Development Officer
    • Community Dance Practitioner
    • Dance Worker
    • Participatory Dance Artist
  • Go into further education, eg you can apply to a BA (Hons) Degree course completion year.

View our post, 28 incredible jobs you’ll love as a professional dancer:

28 Professional Dancer jobs - click here


10. Where are your dance graduates working?

Asking this will give you an idea of how successful the course is at preparing students for the dance industry.

We’re incredibly proud of our high graduate employment rates, compared to industry averages:

During our study from 2012-2015, 100% of Dance For All’s graduates have found work in the dance industry within 12-18 months of graduating, 87% within 6-12 months and 83% within 3 months of graduating. This is in sharp contrast to the industry average, where only 29% of performing arts graduates are working within their specific industry, according to the Higher Education Careers Services Unit’s What do graduates do 2015 report*.
Of those seeking travel and work abroad, 56% – 69% of our graduates since 2013 are working overseas, compared to only 2% of UK performing arts graduates. Dance For All’s professional dance graduates are three times more likely to get a job in the performing arts industry and 35 times more likely to win an overseas contract than their peers.

Destinations of DFA graduates

Dance For All’s talented graduates have progressed to work in choreography, musicals, TV & film, music videos, at theme parks such as Disneyland Paris, in 5* hotels, on cruise ships and joined dance companies, touring the world. Many go on to teach both nationally and internationally and have even established their own dance schools. Read more graduate success stories.


11. What funding will I have access to?

Access to funding depends primarily on:

  • where you live/your nationality
  • where the college is based
  • if you have had funding for previous studies of a similar level, eg another HND or degree
  • some funding (eg bursaries) may be dependent your family’s income

Regarding Dance For All:

1st year: Scottish students applying for the NC Dance may be eligible for a bursary through Edinburgh College

2nd & 3rd year: Scottish students applying for the HND course will be able to access funding (tuition fees, bursaries & loans) through SAAS (Student Awards Agency Scotland) and the Student Loan Company. 

All years: English, Welsh, N. Irish, EU and international students, please see the Scottish Government’s student financial help information which has guidance and links to the relevant funding bodies. 

As with most performing arts colleges who offer a substantial full-time programme of training, supplementary fees are applicable. Full details are within our Info Pack, which you can request, or see our most recent Course Summary for our fees & funding breakdown summary.


Don’t forget to find out about the town or city where you’ll be spending the next few years of your life!

Dance For All is based in an UNESCO World Heritage Site in heart of Edinburgh,  Scotland’s capital city. Find out more about Edinburgh.

Got any questions or want us to post out the documents to you? Contact us:

You can also call the office on 0131 226 5533 if you have any questions or want us to post out the documents to you – please give us your name, telephone / mobile number and your address for posting.

Audition Tips on the Web

Here are some Audition Tips videos our freelance Web Manager Jeda Pearl has found on the YouTube. Please note Dance For All is not responsible for the content of external websites.

Teenager with experience of getting through auditions for Laine Theatre Arts college in Surrey gives 10 tips on auditioning for dance college, with some amusing bloopers at the end!

Australian teenager gives a seven minute ‘dance audition guide’ which also covers larger open auditions but with some interesting advice on clothing and hair, though we wouldn’t recommend you bring a suitcase to your audition at Dance For All!

Theresa Ruth Howard, Ailey tutor and author of Don’t get Cut, is interviewed by Pointe Magazine’s senior editor, giving her top auditioning tips.

Theresa Ruth Howard is a former dancer with Dance Theatre of Harlem and Armitage Gone! Dance. She teaches at the renowned Ailey School and is a regular contributor to Pointe and Dance Magazine.

Short video from Slanted Dance, who are based in Norfolk, with a few audition tips from their guest tutors.

Professional Dance Training and Dance Teacher Training at Dance For All, Edinburgh.

If you’d like to apply to Dance For All – find out when our next Auditions are.

MORE TIPS: Make sure you scroll down to check out the comments below, with tips from our students, graduates and tutors. 

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9 Responses to "Audition Tips"

Add Comment
  1. Hazel

    February 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    For auditions my advice would be;

    Get to the front so you are seen
    Look groomed
    Act confident


  2. Jeda - Website Manager

    February 10, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Thanks Hazel!
    One tip I liked from the girl in the first video, was not to worry too much about being totally perfect, as dance colleges are also looking for Potential.

    Good Luck!

  3. Tracy Hawkes

    February 11, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Try to show some individuality whilst dancing – we are not looking for clones but for dancers with personality, charisma and drive, young people who have the potential to make it in the profession through hard work and application on a course that will provide them with all the skills necessary for a successful and prolonged dance career. Don’t be afraid to say what your goals are in the interview not just what you think the panel want to hear – we can make better informed decisions that way especially when this is going to affect the rest of your life.

    • Jeda - Website Manager

      February 11, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Thanks Tracy – words of wisdom from our Principal Director.

  4. Steinvor Palsson

    February 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    My advice for auditioning would be to do some research beforehand if you can. Speak to dancers who may have done similar work. If it’s a company, check out the website, look at YouTube links. Most importantly though: be yourself and not someone you think the panel/choreographer is looking for. On a personal note, I auditioned for a dancing part in a Paramount film back in the 80’s. It was a period film and I took time to select clothes that I’d bought in a secondhand market ages before. I went into the audition being ‘inwardly’ myself but ‘externally’ I was dressed appropriately for the part which ultimately gave me confidence. Most importantly, develop a thick skin! You might have to audition many times but my advice is to keep going and the right job will come up for you.

    • Jeda - Website Manager

      February 13, 2013 at 11:36 am

      Great advice from one of our tutors – thanks Steinvor.

  5. Jeda - Website Manager

    March 28, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Jennifer Foulds, a 2014 3rd yr, says: “Show off and dance like its the last time you’l ever dance. Just really go for it!!!” She also recommends for you to do your hair and make-up whichever way you’d normally feel your best. Jennifer says: “feeling good helps me perform better and feel more confident. x”

  6. Jeda - Website Manager

    March 28, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Lana Benson has this message from our 2014 3rd yrs:
    “Prepare a strong solo piece reflecting your best talents. Have a good reasons for choosing your audition piece.

    Think of goals and future prospects (don’t panic! If you don’t a clear idea of your goals because that will come).

    Perform, add personality, and don’t hold back! Good luck from current 3rd years”

  7. Salsa Tanzschule in Zurich

    May 7, 2016 at 7:25 am

    Really, you shared great tips on auditions. I like that and it’s very informative.
    As per my point of view, overall, proper technique is not difficult to learn, but it requires specific instruction. Once you master it, however, your dancing abilities will improve phenomenally.


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