I am proud to present another addition to our audition advice series – the beautiful Tara Sweeney! I met Tara during MY FAIR LADY at Westchester Broadway Theatre. She is one of the most beautiful and versatile dancers working in New York today! Without further ado – here is Tara!!!!
1. Can you share a little bit of your dance background?
I started dancing at the age of three…competition dance for the most part. I fell in love with ballet and began training in ballet full time at the age of 8 with the Somerset Ballet Company. From there, I trained with North Carolina School of the Arts, Kansas City Ballet School, Ballet School of Chicago, and the American Ballet Theatre. I went to college for a degree in ballet at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. I left after my freshman year to dance with the Blue Springs Ballet Company as a Principle. Then, I decided to do musical theatre.
2. How has your approach to auditions changed over the years?
When I first started to audition for musicals here in New York, I would only go to dancer calls but would always be cut right away. Then I decided to try going to singer calls with the hopes of being asked to stay and dance. That worked…and I booked my first professional show. Over the years, I have returned to going to dancer calls mostly but if there is a show I really want or a role I really want…I go to EVERY call…singer, dancer, and EPA.
3. Where do you like to stand at auditions and why?
If I’m at a dancer call, I really like to stand in the front row, somewhere close to the middle. If I have to stand to the side, I always choose the side where the production team is. I do this so I can interact with the choreographer. When at a singer or EPA call, I stand in line with the piano. This is because I don’t want to stand too close to the production team so they aren’t uncomfortable.
4. What do you wear to auditions?
Ultimately, it depends on the show and the role I’m going for…if its something specific, that is; however, I do have my go-to audition outfit. For dancer calls, I have a 3/4 sleeved dark green leotard that I wear with black tights and warm up shorts that are stripped (navy blue, dark green, and black). For singer and EPA calls, I have a light green BCBG dress that hits right below my knees and has a bit of a flare coming from the waist. I pair nice black heels and a nice soft black cardigan with the dress.
5. Do you have any advice for picking up choreography quickly at an audition?
My advice for this is to take class…go to BDC or Steps and take class. It’s working the brain and helping it get more comfortable at picking things up faster. As for in the audition room, my advice is to focus. One of the reason’s I stand front and center is because I can see the choreographer and his/her feet and I can focus more easily.
6.Would you suggest asking the choreographer questions if you are having trouble in an audition? If so, which ones?
I absolutely suggest asking questions!!! This gives you one on one time with the choreographer. It shows that you are paying attention and want to get it right. I always try to ask at least one question about the combination. You can ask questions regarding arms on a turn or leap, if a foot is flexed or pointed, if a leg is in attitude position or in arabesque! As long as it has to do with something that you actually are confused about, ask away.
7. If you could recommend one style of dance for a singer who moves to study, which would it be and why?
I firmly believe that, when it comes to musical theatre, all forms of dance are important. But if I had to choose one, if would be between ballet and theatre jazz. Ballet is the basis of all dance…it comes into play in EVERY style you would do in an audition room. Even tap. But theatre jazz is what you will be doing most of the time in the room. When it comes down to it…take whatever you find more fun and then you are getting more out of. It will show in the audition room.
8. Which classes do you take that you feel are most helpful for auditions?
I take ballet on a regular basis. It keeps me fit and it keeps my technique strong. I also enjoy it with all my heart.
9. What is the best audition advice you’ve ever received?
Relax and try and have fun. When going into an audition room, you have to know that the people behind the table want you to succeed! They want their search to be over!