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10-Minute Dance Warmup for Auditions
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Have you ever felt like you didn’t do your best at an audition because you just felt “off” that day? Your performance skills were on fire, but you just couldn’t seem to turn/kick/balance/whatever. I’ve been to many auditions where I wish I could give a disclaimer, “I promise I can do a double pirouette 90% of the time! Today’s just part of the other 10%. Please hire me!”
Everyone has off days, of course, but I have a theory. I’ve observed that most of my “off days” are days where I didn’t get a full warm-up. If I don’t balance in passé at the barre, my pirouettes will be off in the center. If I skip cardio and go straight to stretching, I won’t be able to jump as high because my muscles aren’t “awake” yet.
Don’t get me wrong. I almost always warm up before dancing. But the days where my dancing feels off are usually the days where I skipped steps or cut corners.
That’s why I devised this quick warm-up to cover as many bases as possible before an audition. This pre-audition warm up has other useful features as well:
- It’s only 10 minutes long. Sometimes you have hours of downtime before an audition, but sometimes you only have 10 minutes. This warm up includes the bare minimum to cover if you’re short on time. Obviously, if you have more time, you should use it!
- It takes very little space. You know how crowded those waiting rooms can be. You get your little 2-foot square and that’s it. This warm up can be done in a very small space or against a wall.
- It covers all major muscle groups and joints. You can’t cover everything in a 10 minute warm up, but you can get your major muscle groups woken up and ready to move. Supplement this warm up with any specific exercises you know you need.
- It works for any style of dance. Sometimes you don’t know what you’ll be asked to do at an audition until you walk in. It could be ballet, it could be hip hop. You need to be prepared for anything. This warm up works in turnout as well as parallel, and should prepare you for any style of dance.
- No equipment required. You don’t need any special equipment for this warm up. Just you and your body.
Cardio – 1.5 minutes
The first order of business is to get your heart rate up, your blood flowing, and your muscles warm. Keep your layers on for this if you can. You’ll warm up faster.
Start light with one or more of these options:
- Run or “prance” in place
- Plié-relevés in parallel and first
- Light jumps in parallel and first
- Bounce weight side to side in parallel second
Get into your knees and hips with one or two of these:
- 10 Grande pliés in second
- 10 Squats, gym style with the feet parallel and the hips going behind
- Step back to a lunge (two bent knees), then swing the back leg forward and lift the knee as you stand. Repeat 10x each side
- [Degagé to a small lunge (standing leg straight), push back to degagé, close] en crois in parallel and turned out
Finally, choose one of these to wake up your spine:
- “Rag doll” – roll your head, then add the shoulders, ribcage, and full torso. Let your arms circle, too, if you have room.
- Roll down to touch your toes in parallel, lift to flat back halfway up, release back down, plié and roll up, repeat 5-8x
Abs – 1 minute
Take 60 seconds to blast as many ab exercises as you can. Try to do at least one exercise each for the front of your abs, your obliques, and your back. Here are some ideas:
- (If you have room for a plank) Hold a plank for 30 seconds, then do one of these plank variations for 30 seconds:
- Dip your hips side to side
- Alternate between your elbows and straight arms
- Mountain climbers (get some bonus cardio)
- Roll through your spine to alternate between downward dog and plank
- Variations on crunches, in any combination:
- Regular, tabletop legs, legs straight up, frog
- Cross one foot over the other knee and twist towards the raised knee as you crunch
- Make circles with the body as you crunch
- “Penguins” – Place your feet on the floor and your hands by your sides. Tilt the body side to side and try to touch your heels with your hands
- “Crunches” on your stomach (for your back)
- Lie on your side and crunch sideways
- Russian twists, the Pilates “hundred,” or hold boat pose
- Any other ab exercises you know!
Activate the Joints – 3 minutes
Don’t sit down to do these isolations. You’ll get cold and lose all your progress. Stand up as soon as you’re done your abs and start this sequence:
- Head rolls both directions (skip if you did “rag doll” earlier)
- Shoulder rolls back and forward, followed by arm circles if you have room
- Standard gym arm stretches: straight across the body, behind the head, both sides
- Clasp your fingers behind your back and lean over, letting the hands fall forward
- Isolate the ribcage with circles right and left, then do the same with your hips
- Hip opener: Stand in parallel. Lift one knee to 90 degrees. Turn the leg out, then set it down turned out (your standing leg is still parallel). Reverse the process: lift the knee turned out, turn it in, set it down in parallel. Repeat on the other side. Do the whole process 8x.
- 10 plié-relevés in parallel, staying to balance on the last one. Repeat in first.
- Roll the ankles 8 times each way
Balance 1.5 minutes
- Do a few rond des jambes at degagé height on flat, en des dans and en des hours, focusing on staying centered
- Find your balance in passé, both parallel and turned out, either using a wall/barre and working your way up from sous-sus, or going straight up from a plié in fourth position
Dynamic Stretching – 3 minutes
Right before an audition is not the time to sit still on the floor and hold a static stretch. You want to stretch, of course, but try to keep it active. Here are some dynamic stretches for your…
- Hamstrings. Grande battements, either standing or laying down with the other foot flat on the floor.
- Turnout. Sit in straddle with one leg tucked in. Flex the foot of the extended leg and lift the leg off the floor 8x, fighting to keep it turned out. Do the same with the other leg and repeat with the legs to the front. (This is very effective when done with a resistance band!)
- Inner Thighs. Do this against a wall or make sure you have plenty of room. Laying on your back, point the legs towards the ceiling. Open them to second, then return center, beating the right foot in front, then the left. Repeat 8-10x.
- Hip Flexors. Take a deep lunge with the back leg straight and pulse for 8 counts. Rotate to second position grande plié and pulse for 8 counts. Rotate to the other lunge and pulse for 8 counts, then repeat the pulses in second. (You could also do this during the cardio section.)
If you do all of the exercises I listed here, it will take much more than 10 minutes. If 10 minutes is really all you have, pick and choose one or two from each category according to what you need. If you have more than 10 minutes, I recommend taking more time with the balance and dynamic stretching.
Of course, you should also supplement this warm up with anything you know you need for yourself. If you’re recovering from an injury, make sure to give that area some extra attention. If you’re naturally tight, spend a little more time stretching. I’ve found it helpful to practice a few things that might show up in the audition, if I have space to do so. Pirouettes, kicks, leaps, all of those are good bets.
How do you warm up for an audition? Is there anything you would add to my lists? Share your thoughts below in the comments!