Months of preparation lead up to one moment. One scratch of a pencil, one photograph, one music piece—one chance to prove that you have the passion and drive to thrive in your given art area. But according to communications dean Angela Anyzeski, it’s not about perfection; it’s about potential.
“I am feeling very excited and nervous for my audition […] Dreyfoos has a lot to offer me as an artist. I would be able to learn more about digital media and be able to strengthen my skills as a photographer,” said Ella Barlett, a Crestwood Middle eighth grader auditioning for digital media.
Preparation for auditions, however, is not restricted to auditioning students. Teachers and administrators are required to carefully craft their audition guidelines months before applications go live.
“In my role, audition preparation starts early in the fall,” visual dean Lacey Van Reeth said. “So around September, [Magnet Coordinator Patrick] Marshall will meet with all the deans of the art departments and remind us about some of the upcoming dates and deadlines.”
Organization is a department’s primary task. Each department has to coordinate audition dates with other school-related activities such as concerts, theatre productions and communications stay-afters. Departments have to take materials into account, since most audition activities are done on site. Third-party adjudicators outside have to be approved by the magnet office to make sure the audition process runs as smoothly and as objectively as possible.
“The biggest shift [in our process] is by far the fact that students no longer bring a portfolio,” Ms. Van Reeth said. “Everything except the still life and the historical writing used to be brought in, but they found out … that a lot of students were bringing in work that wasn’t theirs. Now, everything that we adjudicate, you [are] making in front of us.”
Each year, departments make changes to the audition process to increase equity and efficiency. The communications audition used to include the choice of doing either a storyboard or movie poster. Recently, the option of doing a poster is eliminated.
“We just look at the process from previous years and see if there’s anything we need to tweak or change or revise to make it better for the students who are auditioning,” Mrs. Anyzeski. “[We make it] better for us as the adjudicators to really be able to [choose] a kid that’s going to thrive in our department.”
During the audition weeks, adjudicators find themselves putting in after-school hours to ensure that every student has an equal opportunity. .. Some departments even conduct auditions on the weekends.
“The actual audition starts at about 5 p.m. on weeknights and the kids are usually done and out of the building by 7:45 p.m, but, we stay and adjudicate in the evening after each night. The earliest night [this year] was 9:15 p.m,” Ms. Van Reeth said. “It’s a long day. It’s exhausting. It definitely takes a toll for sure.”
There are several outside programs geared toward preparing students for their auditions by honing in on skills and techniques.. However, some art area teachers don’t see the classes as a leg up against other auditioning students who did not or could not participate in these programs.
“I don’t necessarily think that being coached or going to a program to prepare you for auditions necessarily means much in terms of whether you’re going to be a successful student or whether you’re going to benefit from the program,” Mrs. Anyzeski said.
Some students, however, felt it was necessary and comforting to have training before stepping into their audition rooms.
“I feel that training programs are needed to audition at Dreyfoos because it prepares you for the audition,” Barlett said. “Without going to the training, someone might be confused while at the audition because they have no experience at the parts of the audition that are required to be completed.”
Despite all the months of training and preparing for the audition, prospective students were excited to freely explore their passions and being able to open the doors of opportunity.
“[I hope] I get into Dreyfoos because there are a lot of fun programs that I can do with my friends,” said Ryan Brown, a Bak Middle School of the Arts eighth grader Ryan Brown, of his french horn audition. “I [will] have a lot more freedom on what we can do, like picking our pieces and forming our own groups.”