Decisions, Decisions

It’s Audition Season! How to make decisions when the heat is on…

Choosing a dance school can be a challenging experience. The first of many difficult decisions for dancers is figuring out which opportunities are the right ones to pursue. Parents, teachers and peers will all weigh in, and the process can be more than a little overwhelming. Asking the right questions as you prepare to audition can help to steer you in the right direction.

What do I want in the long term? The opportunity must relate to your personal career aspirations. The clearer you are with yourself, the better able you will be to research and make choices about which direction you wish to go in. If you know why you are at a particular audition, it will be easier to remain focused, even if you are just there for the experience.

What are the most important things to me? Knowing your values and what is important to you is key. Values are chosen life directions; the things that give life meaning, so knowing what you value can steer the choices you make and the goals you set. To discover what is truly important to you, look back on your life and think about times you were really confident that you were making good choices. Thinking about times when you were happiest, the most proud of yourself, and the most fulfilled, and why those experiences contributed to how you felt. This can help you to determine what you most value, and what you truly can’t do without.

Below are some questions to ask about the prospective course, and to help you think of what else you might need to know to make a good decision.

What is the philosophy, culture and reputation of the company, school or organisation?
What is the size and structure of classes or rehearsals?
What is their performance repertoire and types of medium?
Who is their audience?
What do others have to say about their experiences here?
Will I get the training I need to do the work I ultimately want to do?
Am I being realistic about my technical level/ time/ financial resources?
Is travel involved and to what extent?
Will this work with my other important commitments?

Each of these answers can be weighed up against your values to help to clarify your options. For example, some school are competition schools where performing and competing are the major emphasis, while others may offer non-competitive performance opportunities a few times per year. While both offer valid dance education, the philosophy and emphasis of the school might make a big difference to your experience. Do you value competition? Is it something which makes you tick and motivates you? Or is it something you could do without?

What not to base your choices on:
the best decisions are based on logical rational thought as well as emotion.
Whatever is easier: making a choice based on values doesn’t necessarily feel good or easy.
What your friends are doing: what is right for others might not be right for you.
The opinion of one person: evaluate different points of view before deciding for yourself

When you consider your values in decision making, you can be sure you will approach decisions with more clarity, and know that the choice you are making is best for your current and future happiness and satisfaction. Although choosing a dance school may seem overwhelming, it need not be. It will take some time and research, but in the long run, making the choice for a healthy and positive learning experience will be well worth it.

Dr. Kate Fennessy is a clinical psychologist who works with adults and young people in a private practice in Sydney. For more information, visit or telephone 0448 641 892.