Anne’s Admission Advice: Nailing your video solos

July 1, 2020

dancer looking up with right leg up

Ciara Billups (BFA '22) performs student choreography | Photo by Mary Mallaney

USC Kaufman requires two rounds of video auditions: You first submit two video short solos (and other materials) for review by the faculty committee. Round two finalists will then need to submit a two-minute solo. What do you need to know about and how can you really shine in this first round when it comes to the solos?

Here are the basics…

  • Present two contrasting solos or excerpts. (We leave it up to you to interpret “contrasting”.)
  • Each piece may be no longer than one minute.
  • You are welcome to submit original choreography, freestyle or improvisation.
  • You may include one example of partnering or group work, but the faculty committee must be able to clearly identify who you are.
  • While you need not submit professional videos, the faculty committee must be able to clearly see your technique and musicality. You may use previously recorded videos as long as they adhere to all other guidelines.

Here are some filming guidelines…

  • Shoot videos in close proximity to the camera while maintaining your full body in frame.
  • Do not include any musical overlays.
  • Do not use works edited with jump cuts, dissolves and the like.
  • Hold your cell phone horizontally if you plan to film your videos with your cell phone.

With an incredibly talented applicant pool, of which only about a quarter will move forward to the second round, how do you set yourself apart?

Here are some pro tips from our faculty members…

  • “Start strong. Think of the first 10 seconds as your first impression. Don’t waste any time walking to the center of the frame. Just go for it.”
  • “Follow directions. The admission process asks you to present yourself within certain parameters. Keep to the time limit and follow all filming instructions.”
  • “Be yourself and perform what you do best. Remember that we are not looking for any one type of dancer, so pick pieces that reflect your artistry.”
  • “Avoid looking at yourself in the mirror. Make conscious choices about where you choose to focus your attention.”

Finally, I would add: Enjoy the process! Think of the video solos as a chance to show us who you are, knowing that we cannot wait to see you dance!

Want more admission advice? Watch this video about the USC Kaufman portfolio and visit our Admission Advice playlist on YouTube. Though referenced in the aforementioned videos, please note that we will not have live auditions this year.


By Anne Aubert-Santelli, Assistant Dean of Admission & Student Services