Anne’s Admission Advice: The Live Audition

December 2, 2018

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I remember watching an audition at a dance festival with 150 young people squished onto a stage with numbers displayed on their shirts and leotards. I know this is the norm, but something about seeing these talented individuals reduced to a series of numbers really struck a chord with me.

USC Kaufman has become known for its unique live audition experience. The fact that we have a two-stage audition process—whereby we narrow down the pool to a list of finalists—allows us to do things differently. For starters, our auditions are intimate. Last year, our average audition size was 28 students. This means that our faculty really get to know you. You also really get to know our program. After all, you are auditioning us as much as we are auditioning you.

On audition day

The night prior, we’ll host an informal social. You’ll have a chance to hang out, eat pizza, watch movies, play board games, and get to know our students and your fellow auditionees.

When you arrive the next morning, you’ll be given a nametag, not a number. Hey, this is The New Movement! Our faculty already know quite a bit about you from your dance portfolio—and they are excited to get to know you even better. It will be a long day, because you will go through every part of the audition. In other words, there are no cuts. Faculty want to be able to take everything into consideration when making final decisions.

The day will begin with a continental breakfast and welcoming remarks from Vice Dean Jodie Gates and our faculty. The welcome is part information session, part pep talk. We set the tone by explaining that each and every student has been chosen to be at the audition for a reason. We know that not everyone will be totally prepared for every part of the audition. You might shine during ballet, but struggle in hip-hop, because you’ve never taken hip-hop before. That’s okay. You might feel amazing in contemporary, but feel awkward during improvisation. That’s okay too. We just want you to give the day your best.

After the welcome, you’ll have a student-to-student chat for about twenty minutes with current BFA students. There are no staff or faculty members in the room, so that you can feel free to ask your questions about the audition day and program.

Following, you will have a long class consisting of four parts: ballet, contemporary, improvisation, and hip-hop. While this is happening, families will hop on a bus to downtown Los Angeles for a private tour of The Music Center, one of our partners.

After class, you’ll reunite with your family over a catered lunch hosted by our BFA students. This is an opportunity to ask your future classmates about their experiences in the program.

After lunch, throughout the afternoon, each student will have approximately 15 minutes alone with the faculty. You will chat and then present a  two-minute solo of your choice.

As interviews and solos are taking place, there are a number of different activities. There will be a financial aid presentation, student-led tour of the Glorya Kaufman International Dance Center, and self-guided campus tour. You can also just hang out with our students, who love getting to meet everyone.

When I ask our current students about their live audition experiences, they often tell me how comfortable they felt. We try to create an environment where you can really be your best so that, no matter what happens in the end, you can leave feeling proud of yourself. And, hopefully, you can also say that you had a little fun too!


By Anne Aubert-Santelli, Assistant Dean for Admission and Student Services