Behind performance auditions: Selection process difficult for all

When it comes to performance-oriented clubs on campus, there is generally some sort of audition process to go through. While students auditioning may be preparing to deal with some nerves and hard work of their own, the people responsible for running the audition process deal with stress of a different kind.

Hips ‘N Harmony member  junior Meredith Fortgang explained that the three day decision-making process that goes into selecting members is a hard—albeit rewarding––one.

“It’s just crazy. It’s a grueling process, but it’s so worth it,” she said. She noted that all the current members in the a cappella group stay for open auditions, taking notes on each individual tryout. Seventy-three individuals auditioned for Hips this year and the group ended up only taking six new members. While each individual audition only lasts about five minutes, those minutes pile up pretty fast when you have that many people competing intensely for very limited slots—Fortgang explained that she and her fellow members were at auditions from 4–11 p.m. this year.

She emphasized that selecting people for callbacks and the eventual final roster wasn’t easy. “It takes a while because we want to be able to see everybody and make a good decision,” Fortgang said. “There’s so much talent in Geneseo.”

Fortgang explained that since individuals are allowed to participate in more than one group, each person has a preference sheet in which they write their top choices. After callbacks, the presidents and vice presidents of each group come together and discuss who they want to take and work to match that individual’s listed preferences. Then, the new members receive a call congratulating them on their acceptance.

In the realm of dance at Geneseo, the process of narrowing down individuals auditioning is also a daunting one. Geneseo Dance Ensemble member junior Laura Dolan explained that approximately 80 individuals usually audition for a select number of spots in pieces. Student-run pieces, for instance, can only take six individuals and two alternates, whereas faculty pieces are usually comprised of 15-20 members. The number of pieces in the fall and spring shows varies by year, so the number of individuals cast does as well.

Dolan noted that like Hips, there is a preference sheet for participants to circle which dance style they would prefer to be cast in and these inclinations can be reflected in the size of the audition pool. “There’s the ballet audition that is usually smaller and you do a few combos and then there’s the modern and jazz audition that’s much bigger,” she said.

Dolan added that the professors have high expectations for participants and while the atmosphere is “professional and calm,” students auditioning are undoubtedly challenged to perform to the highest caliber. “The professors tend to just throw choreography at you for the auditions, so it’s very fast-paced,” she said. “That was very scary the first time [auditioning].”

Both Dolan and Fortgang emphasized the importance of persistence and personality in the audition process and to not take it personally if you don’t get in to something on the first try.

“The more times you audition, the more likely you are to get into a piece … They like seeing people come back,” Dolan said. “Really, really try to perform and not just ‘do’ the dances. Actually use showmanship and smiles and performance quality more than anything.”

Fortgang reiterated this sentiment. “Sometimes, we just don’t have enough space to take as many girls as we want,” she said. “Just come in and be confident and be yourself … and if you don’t get in, it’s not the end of the world. There are so many music opportunities on campus and we would love to see people come back and audition again.”