Student Blog: Attending My First ECC

Auditioning can be intimidating, but the challenge can be exciting. Here's my first experience attending an ECC as a nonunion actor.

By: Mar. 25, 2024
Student Blog: Attending My First ECC
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It is audition season for many people in the world of theatre which means many fun ones have been popping up around me.  So, why not try one out? That's what led me to my first ECC dance call. ECC? You may know what this is, but just for clarity, ECC stands for "Equity Chorus Call". These auditions are open to all equity members (meaning union actors) and nonunion actors (for example, me) are not guaranteed to be seen. ECCs are specifically for ensemble roles while EPAs (equity principal auditions) are for leading roles. Not every audition is an equity audition and attending a nonunion audition does not make it "less prestigious" (just to clarify).  However, I chose to attend an ECC dance call just to have the experience.

I intended to challenge myself by putting myself in a demanding and new situation. I believe I was really able to enjoy it because I was there for the experience and not totally riding on trying to get the job. However, I still showed up prepared and was ready for anything that they threw at me, and "come what may" was my mentality.

I was lucky because the theatre I auditioned for rarely turns away nonunion actors, so I could be assured I would be seen. Prior to, I was asked to bring heels, tap shoes, a headshot, a resumé, and a 16-32 bar cut of a song in the style of the show. I was unsure of what to expect, so I showed up 3.5 hours early. This was pretty early for the call, but it was good practice because in places like New York City, showing up about 10 hours early is pretty standard. This is because nonunion actors are put on an unofficial list and if the casting director allows nonunion actors to be seen, they start pulling from the top of the list.

I showed up (again) about 30 minutes to line up and began stretching. I used it as an opportunity to meet the other women I was auditioning with as I find it fascinating to talk to other actors about their prior experiences. I also asked them some logistical questions just to make sure I knew how to properly approach an audition (like "Can I practice the dance on the sidelines while I wait for my turn?" or "Do you think they will do cuts after the first dance?"). Once the audition was ready to commence, we walked into the studio.

Inside, about 8 to 10 people were sitting at the audition table whose roles consisted of choreographer, director, music director, casting director, and some assistants. We jumped right into the choreography as they know you are already stretched and warm (very important to come prepared!). We learned a 2-minute jazz dance and then a 1-minute tap combination as they did not do any dance cuts. I found both to be challenging because of the specificity required and rapid pace, but it showed me I handle the difficulty and I may be more capable than I think. They split us into groups of 3 for both combos and had us perform each one twice.

Following the choreography, we were asked to wait in the lobby for further instruction. At this point, it is hard to know what to expect. They could cut some people and have some people stay to sing or they could ask everyone to sing or leave. There are many possibilities. Eventually, we were all asked to sing what we brought. My heart raced because I am a dancer first and singing is not my forte. After a couple of breaths, I reminded myself this is exactly what I wanted: the ability to challenge myself and to feel more comfortable performing for others. Of course, I was the last one to go, but this gave me a good opportunity to get to know everyone else even more. One woman had a crazy high kick so I asked how she had gotten so flexible, one woman had a cute workout set so we talked about that, and another woman was also unsure of what she was doing so we laughed over our uncertainty. I felt this was a perfect way to humanize the audition since it can so easily feel intense and incredibly competitive. Eventually, I was the only one left. I sang my song and was sent on my way. By the end, I had completed a 2-hour audition.

I may never hear back or know what comes next, but I am so thankful I just went for the adventure. People will tell you the only way to feel comfortable auditioning is to simply audition. An audition is actually just another opportunity to perform. You do not always need an excuse or a dire reason to attend one and part of the fun is the unpredictability of the whole experience. I learned, though, that getting started in the world of performance is very much possible and that it really only requires you to trust your talent and to always arrive prepared!



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