It is incredibly exciting to be able to share her audition advice with you! One thing that has always impressed me about Michelle is her laid back energy at auditions. It is almost as though she is there just to have fun and go with the flow. (In her own words: "I just try to perform my best. I remind myself that everything else is out of my control. When I was a younger dancer I used to compare myself to other dancers in the room. Now I just try to stay focused on myself.") I think that attitude is part of what allows her to be so successful!
But enough about my observations of the glorious Michelle Joy - let's let her speak for herself!:)
Can you give us a little background your dance career?
• I’ve been dancing professionally for ten years nows. I received my dance training from Houston Ballet Academy on full Scholarship. After I graduated at age 17 I landed my first paid job with Colorado Ballet as an apprentice. I later danced with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, American Repertory Ballet and The The Metropolitan Opera. I’m currently performing this leading role a workshop of a new show, 49th St and Other Stories.
How has your approach to auditions changed over the years?
• I find I’m less stressed about auditions, I just try to perform my best. I remind myself that everything else is out of my control. When I was a younger dancer I used to compare myself to other dancers in the room. Now I just try to stay focused on myself.
Where do you like to stand during auditions and why?
• I like to stand is where I can see the combination the best and practice the steps. Sometimes the most space is in the very front, (because some people are scared to stand there) and sometimes it’s in the back row.
What do you wear to auditions?
• I seem to do the best when I am wearing just a nice leotard and booty shots or something that shows my body. Directors and choreographers want to see dancers, not their wardrobe.
Do you have any advice on picking up choreography quickly at an audition?
• I try not to over analyze any one step and let the entire combination sink it. Paying close attention to the counts helps memorize the combination faster.
What do you do if you are having trouble picking up a combination or style?
• If I’m not familiar with the style I try to pay more attention to the counts and make sure that my body is in the right place at the right time. Hip hop and tap combinations are very difficult for me.
Would you suggest asking the choreographer questions if you are having trouble in an audition? If so, what kind?
• Yes, but I try to be specific, such as: “what is on count seven?” or “can you repeat the opening section?”
What was your most challenging audition and how did you conquer it?
• The most challenging audition for me was when I auditioned for American Repertory Ballet. The audition was six hours long including a class, repertory, partnering and improve. They kept making cuts after every different combination. I had no idea I was going to be there all day long. I ended up signing the only female contract at the end of the day, but I couldn’t walk for a week.
If you were to recommend one style of dance for a singer who moves to study - which would it be and why?
• I would suggest a musical theatre class such at Richard Pierlon’s class because the first hour you spend in the center working on technique and flexibility and the second half you work on a combination.
Which classes do you take that you feel are most helpful for auditions?
• Deborah Roshe’s jazz class at Steps on Broadway helped me learn to pick up choreography quickly and to put counts to every move.
As a dancer who sings - how do you approach a singing callback? Do you have a different mentality than during a dance call?
• Naturally I’m way more nervous about the singing portion of the audition. I’ve been taking weekly voice lessons for the past 3 years which has given me more confidence. My voice teacher and I always prepare a song in advance for an audition which I may or may non get called back to sing.
Are there any classes you would recommend a non-dancer take to work on audition skills?
• Lisa Lockwood’s class at Steps is a great basic ballet class with lots of begging adults. I think that taking a ballet one or twice a week will help anyone with the basics for any dance audition no matter what the style is.
What is the best audition advice you've ever received?
• You’re not going to get any job sitting in your apartment. Showing up is the most important thing whether you think you are right for the show or not.