Levels Auditioning in Lindy Hop: Best Practices

#1 Nail your basics.

Time and again, judges will tell you this is what they look for in level auditions. In lindy hop, this means swing outs, tuck turns, and the like. Leave out the super fancy moves. Dance with the music, on beat, rocking your basics.

For followers, swivels are pretty important. However, great swivels don’t mean a lot if your other basic skills are lacking.

If you’re unsure what you need to work on, take a private lesson a few months before the audition.

#2 Practice your lines.

At most auditions, the judges will be watching you rather than dancing with you. Having good lines shows that your whole body can dance!

First of all, figure out what to do with your free arm. Dead arms or tense arms are quite obvious and make you look like a poorer dancer than you are.

“Lines” also refer to other shapes your body makes. For example:

  • Is your head pushed forward or cocked at a funny angle? Not so pretty.
  • Do you scrunch your shoulders and pull your arms in when you turn? Not so pretty.
  • Do you push your pelvis forward or arch your back? Not so pretty.
Use a video camera or a mirror to assess how you look. Working on lines and shapes may dredge up more things to work on. If you decide to overhaul your dancing, start several months in advance!

#3 Dress for the occasion.

You want to give a good first impression before you even start dancing. Don’t get all glammed up (overcompensating) or roll up looking shabby (overconfident or clueless).

Wear something that flatters you. If you want to go the extra mile, choose an outfit that also stands out from the crowd. As long as it looks good on you, a bold print, bright color, or an eye-catching accessory are all good ideas.

#4 Match your partner.

If you’re not matching and working together, it makes at least one of you look bad. Probably both.

This advice goes for both leads and follows. Don’t fling your follow around if she’s dancing with a lighter connection. And follows, don’t dance around your lead, inconsiderate of his role in the dance.

There are many more ways to work with and respond to your partner. When you’re nervous this can be really hard! Remember to make eye contact with your partner as a first step.

#5 Look happy, dangit!

That look of sheer terror isn’t doing much for you. Humans are attracted to happy faces. The more they look at you, the better chance both you and your partner have.

A great smile exudes confidence, outwardly and inwardly. The judges might even unconsciously assume you are more capable.

And most importantly…

#6 Mentally prepare for the worst case scenario.

Think. What’s the lowest level you could conceivably end up in?

Say you’re shooting for advanced. You may well end up in intermediate if there are a lot of other great dancers at the event. There are 2 good ways to mentally prepare for this outcome:

  1. Remind yourself that the label of the level you end up in is not equivalent to your actual dance level. This can help you to stay positive and not take the placement personally.
  2. Come up with a plan for what to do if/when you get placed in a different level than you wanted. Will you go through the appeals process, if there is one? How will you get the most out classes? Will you take a private lesson? Do you need to ask more questions or look for nuance in the material so you have enough to work on?

By preparing mentally, you can lessen the disappointment and shock that comes with an unexpected level placement.

 ©2013 Rebecca Brightly