Maddie: Dance Your Heart Out
My audition was in Chicago at Hubbard Street Dance, and although I was pretty nervous going in, as we moved through the five rounds (starting with a full ballet class), I just focused on enjoying the experience. It was so much fun to perform my solo for the panel, and take the “rounds” like a class, because that is really what they are. The faculty is looking to see how you work in a learning environment; how quickly you pick up information, take corrections, tailor it to your body, etc. Don’t worry about being perfect, and if you mess up, brush it off like you would back in your home studio. Allow yourself to let your personality shine through—that is so important in a setting like this.
A few tips
Your audition starts the moment you walk in the door. The way you carry yourself tells a lot about who you are as a person, which is as important as your audition itself.
The faculty wants you to succeed! They’re looking for the best fits for the Juilliard community, and if you keep this in mind, they don’t look as scary sitting behind the audition table.
Don’t take the outcome personally. If you aren’t accepted or are cut, it absolutely does not mean you aren’t good enough. All it means is that it wasn’t meant to be.
Remember, this is more than a college audition, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so be confident in yourself and what you have to offer—and dance your heart out!
Hopefully, you will join this wonderful family here at Juilliard. We can’t wait!
Regina: Acting on Dreams Can Be Terrifying
I had never been to the United States prior to my Juilliard Drama audition—I lived in the Philippines all my life and worked as a resident actress in a professional acting company for five years until I realized that if I continued my work there, the trajectory would probably be: continue to act in the theater, act in some indie films, play support to an actress who more clearly fits the standards of beauty in Philippine showbiz, and retire playing mother or grandmother roles in soap operas. I wanted to give myself better opportunities and a chance to live a larger life.
Acting on dreams can be terrifying, though. It seemed the odds were against me: I didn’t have a U.S. visa, nor did my family have the means to fly me to the U.S. to audition for graduate school, and the drama schools I wanted to apply to were the most competitive ones in the world.
I started the journey one step at a time, and eventually got an email inviting me to Juilliard for an interview. I managed to buy a round-trip ticket to New York—and that’s how I found myself walking into that beautiful orchestra rehearsal room with 200 other applicants. I thought, “so many people have told me that this was not possible and yet here I am.”
As I waited for my turn, though, I had the impulse to run away. I remembered how in the past I would work so hard to get to a certain point and when the moment of reckoning arrived, I would back out in fear. I asked myself, “Do I want to keep doing that in my life?” I decided to stay and go for it. I’m now in the second semester of my second year. And I’m training to become a pretty darn good actor!
Shelby: No Idea What to Expect
There are few words to describe how scared I was about auditioning for Juilliard Vocal Arts. I had no idea what to expect. Would everyone else be shooting me death glares? Would the audition panel stop me after 30 seconds? Was wearing a red dress a bad idea?
I woke up on the big day excited and anxious. My audition wasn’t until 2pm, so my mom and I got to Juilliard around 11:30 to make it to the 11:45 residence hall tour. I was relieved to see that everyone there looked just as nervous as I was. Then, after warming up, I stopped to take in the moment: here I was, getting ready for my Juilliard audition! I was so grateful to have this opportunity.
At 1:50, I headed down to my audition room. I started with “Non so più” and then had a bit of a memory slip in my second piece, “Beau Soir,” but my muscle memory took over and I managed to sing the right words anyway. I felt the whole time that the panel members were really listening to me sing and I could tell they wanted me to do well. Once I finished, I thanked the panel and my pianist, and then I had another two hours until the callback list was posted! I could feel the nervous energy in the lobby, so my mom and I went to Century 21.
When they taped up the callback list, I started scanning, and bam, there I was, the final name on the list! I didn’t outwardly celebrate because I knew there were a lot of people whose names weren’t there, so I just gave my mom a subtle thumbs-up as I turned the corner.
When my callback finally came, at 7:40, I was less nervous, but much more uncertain. I knew how auditions worked, but what was I supposed to do in the callback? I went into the room and met two coaches—Mary Birnbaum and Adam Nielsen—and Brian Zeger, the artistic director of Vocal Arts. They asked if we could work on “Beau Soir” and they asked me to try different things acting-wise and stylistically. It was a lovely, low-stress experience.
The audition experience was unique, but I felt welcomed and encouraged, and I’ve continued to feel that way throughout my time here.
Mei: Have Something Fun to Look Forward To
My audition day was a lot like everyone else’s—long, scary, and stressful. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the intimidating talent that surrounds Juilliard, but try to remind yourself that it’s such a privilege to even be auditioning for this institution. In preparation for a long but exciting day, here’s what you should keep in mind.
Check your audition requirements one! last! time! Make sure you have all your music with you, and also have different repertoire prepared for each audition round if you’re a flutist, like me.
Don’t overplay; you’ve worked this hard to get here, so have faith in your preparations. Frantic last-minute practicing only stresses me out and makes me more likely to panic during auditions.
Talk to people. Maybe you already recognize some people from summer festivals or competitions—say hi to them! It can feel like everyone is your enemy when you’re all auditioning for the same spot, but it’s also so much easier to make friendly conversation than it is to sit in a corner and loathe everyone from afar.
Take the tour of the school. Or don’t. I still get lost every other day on my way to class.
Have something to look forward to. It might be something small, like getting dessert (I recommend some banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery) or meeting up with a friend. If you’re not from New York City—you’re in New York City! Go sightseeing, and get the touristy stuff out of the way so that if you get in(!), you’ll be ready to be a local.
Congratulations—you successfully crushed your Juilliard audition. Now it’s time to make a Facebook status telling the world about it—or to take a 15-hour nap. Whatever’s your thing.