Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Auditions, Interviews, Jobs, Ohhhh My!

Auditions, Interviews, Jobs, Ohhhh My!
Written by Noelle Rose Andressen Feb 22, 2017

My name is Noelle Rose Andressen. I am a professional choreographer-dancer for 25 years, nominated Performance Artist of the Year, perform internationally on tour and on TV ABC's Modern Family and g.l.a.a.d. Awards, I produce a large annual Awakenings & Beginnings Dance Festival in Los Angeles, I do a lot of outreaches with my dance company Rubans Rouges Dance of which I'm also the Artistic Director, I am a breast cancer survivor and for six years I've sat as Luminaria Ceremony Chair for the American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life".

We often interview for administrative job positions, Board Members, and hold auditions for live and filmed performances. I hope in sharing some of my experiences it may help dancers or any artist with accepting rejection and then to help guide those who have to share the rejection news. I have auditioned for many companies as a dancer, actor, and also pitching ideas as a choreographer. I've had good rejection experiences and some negative ones. 

Overall, we at Rubans Rouges Dance, my dance company, believe that showing the person/candidate that a potential "boss" cares about them as a person and has genuine interest in their well being and progress is a strong approach. It also gives the company a good reputation for reaching out on a human level in a world that seems overwhelmed by technology.

Having been on both sides of the audition/recruitment table helps me to be more compassionate and professional. This is why I am passionate about this topic. Essentially, empathy drives me, since I've been there I know how I'd want to be treated. Everything I've experienced has all made me a better person and I now have solid skills when holding auditions and then having to decline a candidate or reject their submissions.

Personable From The Beginning
Ways to do this: Eye contact when you meet them. Shaking their hands and calling them by name. Smiling and positive reinforcement and feedback during the screening process. Letting each person know that you care and are interested in their skills developing and growing as an artist.

Humanizing the Process Initially
It is customary in a dance audition to have numbers pinned to the dancer's leotards. We do that plus add their names under their numbers. We work with the group as a whole unit and build a small community for the 2.5 hours they spend with us. We keep that same humanistic respect and feeling continuing through the rejection process.

Complete Participation With the Candidates
People don't want to feel badly about themselves or their efforts. They need to know they made a difference with their attempts. Kindness offers that. It says, "I care about you, thank you for spending your time with me/us." 

Some Don'ts
We never play colleagues against one another. One incident we encountered was during a "pitch" our colleagues work was elevated and many great things were said about their work, however our work was compared to as substandard and lacking, or not compelling to be precise. Granted it is an opinion and while people are entitled to it; an unprofessional comparison based on only an opinion is at best tacky and can be seen as a tool to divide and outcast. Mostly, this tactic is unprofessional and unwarranted and should be left to grade school play-yard bullies.

While we may have opinions about entities, or how way others run their businesses, we never compare colleagues against one another. It is very unprofessional to do so and we refrain from working with this type of negative energy unless of course people have proven change. We do allow the room for that because everyone makes mistakes including us.

Empathic Rejection
We have had dancers say that they didn't feel as if they were being rejected even after they were rejected. I believe it is because of making them initially feel accepted into the group (by doing what I stated above) even if they weren't cast, it lays the foundation work for a healthy rejection exchange. It builds good reputation and report and they always come back for a second audition for another show if they didn't make the cut the first time. If everyone can feel good about themselves after an audition, especially if it ends in a rejection, then everyone benefits.

For the rejection, we reach out with a phone call and exchange ideas and give feedback on how to improve. The purpose is to grow their skills not humiliate them or make them feel bad about themselves. We focus on the positive and encourage them to try again and audition with us. We give input of what to work on and then also invite them to our company classes.

Dancers, actors, writers, artists, we hope this will help you understand from the other side of the table what we are truly experiencing and desiring for you. Please know that our company would love to give everyone a "job", but that simply isn't possible. We encourage you to keep coming back because we have often selected from our past pool of auditioners.

Warm smiles and blessings.

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Noelle Andressen is an Emmy nominated writer, producer and music arranger. She has authored the 5 book series: "Dance Warrior" Book Series. The first book is set to be released very soon. She is also a dancer-choreographer that has had the privilege of being photographed by legendary dance photographer Lois Greenfield (photo release 2016). She's known for her many works on camera as an actress and behind the lens as a story-teller with her screenplays. She took this skill and applied it to her dance company: Rubans Rouges Dance and creates thought provoking "Dance Drama" that beckons you to "Feel the Experience" (TM/slogan mark).

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