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Magazine » K-12 » USA Dance Members Audition for Shows

USA Dance Members Audition for Shows

Breanna Olaveson
Date Published:
January 1, 2012

Shows like Dancing With the Stars obviously need dancers, but ballroom dancing appears on shows like America’s Got Talent as well. But what about shows like Oprah, Maury Povich, MTV’s Made and USA’s Burn Notice? Ballroom dancers are showing up all over the entertainment industry, and many of them are USA Dance members.

Erik Linder and Rickie Taylor auditioned for America’s Got Talent in 2009 after appearing on Oprah’s “All-Time Smartest, Most Talented Kids” in May 2008. They made it all the way to the America’s Got Talent semi-finals and enjoyed their experience, but they both said that being on the show wasn’t exactly what they were anticipating.

“It’s a lot different than I thought,” Erik says. “You wait most of the day for your rehearsal, then you go back to your hotel and sleep. Then the next day go to the studio at seven in the morning, and then you wait until you do your thing again. So, it’s a lot of waiting.”

Rickie also said that being on the show was fun, but not what she expected.

“They were filming us a lot,” Rickie says. “Whenever we’d come by the studio, they’d get their cameras out and tell us what to do. Right after performances, we would leave the stage and they’d always interview us. It wasn’t the best, but it was kind of fun.”

Erik and Rickie love dancing, and they loved sharing that with others on the show. But it was a big commitment for them and their families, and Erik’s father says that’s something to consider before auditioning for a television show.

“If you want to audition for a television show, I’d say go for it,” Lars Linder says. “But be aware that if you make it, it could be an all-consuming part of your life. You have to be prepared and committed to it. It might be the only thing that happens at that point in your life.”

Dancing With the Stars is another show that’s put ballroom dancing in the national spotlight. In its 13 seasons, about three-quarters of the show’s professionals have been current or former members of USA Dance. Besides the professionals, the Dancing With the Stars troupe has two USA Dance members, Ted Volynets and KiKi Nyemchek, in its ranks. This means that USA Dance has succesfully auditioned 12 couples for the show since season one.

USA network’s Burn Notice isn’t exactly known for featuring ballroom dancing—in fact, it generally doesn’t have much dancing at all. But when one episode, “Better Halves,” needed background dancers, USA Dance members responded to the call.

Jazzmyn Iglesias, Zhenya Vitko and Irina Gavrilovitch were all cast as dancers in the episode, and Jazzmyn was cast as the dance double for Gabrielle Anwar, one of the lead actors in Burn Notice. Jazzmyn dressed in the same costume as Gabrielle and was prepared to be her body double as needed.

Performing is much different from competing, but with new experiences comes new perspective. In fact, Erik Linder says that his experiences on television have made him a better competitor.

“It’s helped me because on TV there’s a huge crowd,” Erik says. “When you’re doing a competition, it’s a lot less stressful. You’re not as nervous because there are only 50 to 75 people instead of a couple thousand people. So you have a lot more confidence in your dancing after you do something like that.”

Audition Tips

1. Be Prepared – Know your trade. There is no substitute for professional training and experience. Auditions are your way to market your skills.

2. Think and behave professionally – From the security guard to the receptionist to the casting director, other people in the room, everyone! An actor’s personal behavior speaks volumes.

3. Be on time – Casting takes place in a fast-paced environment and industry professionals appreciate consideration of their time. Don’t waste their time.

4. Have different dances ready – Club dances are likely candidates for a scene requiring dance extras, but you will still need to know how to lead/follow other styles in order to be useful to a casting director.

5. Be prepared to learn, or to produce, choreography – Learn the terminology of basic stagecraft and stage dancing, and you will be better positioned to learn from a non-ballroom choreographer. To be an asset to producers, develop choreography skills and/or the ability to freestyle.

Issue: Jan/Feb. 2012