Preparing for VPA Auditions/Portfolio

The information below was presented by representatives from UCLA Art and Architecture, Otis School of Design and Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Be aware of the campus admissions qualifications

  • How much value is placed on academics such as gpa, test scores, and writing
  • How much emphasis is placed on the strength of the portfolio and/or auditions
  • How will they view my creative  talent in relationship to my academic goals
  • Often art schools do not look at test scores heavily, BUT will view the writing section of SAT and ACT plus Writing heavily.


A. Physical warm up immediately before audition

Get your arms lose, spread legs, exhale in and out

B.  Warm up your voice

Practice your voice by saying your ABC's and 123's from soft to loud to ironic to funny ways to say it

C.  Punctuality

If you are late you will miss your audition.  Be on time, be early.

D.  Interview

Do your homewok about the school and program.  This is critical.  You have to be familiar with your application and past experiences and be able to articulate why you want to dance or act.  Students need to know the school mission and answer why you want to study in their program.  Faculty bios and mission statement of the department are key.  

E.  Letter of recommendations

One from performing arts instructor and have it arrive on campus on time

F.  Appearance and attitude matters.  First impressions are key.

G.  Make sure you arrive early to the audition so you have time to warm up before the audition

H.  Parents are not to be part of this audition.

Have the parent not to be present at the audition so not to distract other prospective students.  Parents are not allowed to hear or witness the audition.


The "cold read" 

A student will get the setting and will read a script with another faculty member.  You will need to analyze how to interrupt the reading before performing. 

Faculty members will judge the audition on how well you handle the situation and if you are calm, collective and well responded.  

ACTING/THEATRE: Picture / Resume

Bring a head shot 8 x 10 and resume with credits, training and special skills (dance, juggling,accents, stage combat, acrobatics, etc).  Photo should have no hats or costumes.  No production shots from a play or show.  

Resume should not list performances in elementary school.  List performances since middle school to high school.  Just speaking roles.


Prepare two contrasting pieces.  One contemporary (20th to 21st century)and one classical monologue(Shakespeare or Greek mythology).  The number of auditions and pieces will vary by campus.  Read the requirements for each campus but no student monologues. READ AND KNOW THE COMPLETE MONOLOGUE before the audition because you will be asked what happened in the play and what happened before and after the monologue of the character you read.


Wear proper neutral color clothing that flatters the body and allows for easy movement.  Most schools evaluate the actor's physicality as well as the content, emotion of the acting.  

Looking for voice, presence and visuality.


Picture / resume

Same as above

MUSICAL THEATRE: Representation Repertoire

Musical theatre requires dancing, acting and singing.  Student should be strong in at least one of the three areas and satisfactory in the other two


Same as above


Group auditions with a combined dance form.  Very few opportunities to do solo dancing.


Prepare sixteen bars of two musical songs.  Make sure they are appropriate and they have a range both high and low.  Student should bring in their music.  First song should be up tempo and the second a ballad.  Be familiar with the production associated with the song.


The same as above, but bring dance shoes and extra dance clothes

DANCE: Choreography

Students need to be prepared to do a group or solo dance.  Be comfortable about solo dance and they are usually two to three minutes and demonstrate their range of abilities.

DANCE: What to Wear

When in doubt dress conservatively.

DANCE: Shoes

Bring dance shoes but confirm with school what  type of floor you are dancing from.

DANCE: Music

Make sure your music is ready for original choreography and it is okay for a dancer to get help design for the choreography 

MUSIC: Instrumental

Get the repertoire well advance.  May need to know a foreign language, improvisation and have a slight reading ability to read music

Bring in original sheet music not photocopies, make sure it is organized and laminated cover with binder

Faculty members are looking for humility, confidence and if the student will have a good interview.

Be prepare to send a video or tapes or YouTube 

Be aware many can get admitted, but not scholarships.  In person is best.

Try to find out if they have live auditions in your area.

Some campuses must submit to prescreens and learn how to submit it online to each campus like UCLA and it does not need to be done professionally.  They are looking for technique not the  quality of the  video.

Be prepare to know the student most likely will not get feedback from the faculty members.

VISUAL ARTS: Portfolio

Usually a student will need to complete ten pieces (complete, finished and edited). Some may ask up to fifteen pieces.  For most competitive  campuses one's portfolio will determine the admission process.

VISUAL ARTS: Pieces - A. Observational Art

Still figure, portrait or landscape in the traditional method.  Draw what you see without interpretation.  Recommend to look at an actual figure not from a photograph. Canvas should be 18 x 24 or a large scale and fill the entire canvas or surface with pen, charcoal, pencil on paper.

VISUAL ARTS: B. Personal Art

Work should be done outside of the  classroom setting.  It should reflect your unique use of materials (paint, jewelry, pad locks).  Subject matter and concept is equally important as technique.  Work can be completed in any media.  Faculty is looking for how student creates.


Specific art work that requires certain pieces 

Files should be either .jpeg, .avi, .mp3, .wmv, .wav, .mp4

Audio video files should be limited to 30 seconds


Ask how to submit the work both traditionally and digitally.  Attach a brief description on the photo and explain why and how photo was shot.


Want to see complete and finish via DVD, CD or  video.  Include .jpeg and the time base media (audio, film, etc).  Make sure the items meet the campus' compatibility and your media is for both platforms for Mac and PC. 

FILM & TV: Resume

Should include film projects, credits and awards.

FILM & TV: Writing Sample

A huge component that may require a critical essay, personal essay, character profile, etc about six pages.  At UCLA they only look at writing samples,

Film & TV: Film or video reels

May require live action but show your strength whether it is an interior scene, character development , etc but  just about five minutes.

Film & TV: Interview

Again look at the philosophy of the school and be able to define your career goals.



Need to have a background with English and Arts and budget planning.  Know how to utilize the environment in society.

Able to link history and culture in their work.  Need to have:

Good communication skills

Use resources, materials and technology


General Tips

Many schools are asking for digital uploads to collect supplemental prescreening materials,portfolios, statements, essays, transcripts and other evidence of creativity. 

Read the instructions thoroughly before you begin the process.

Prep digital files in advance

Follow provided submission guidelines

Don't wait until the last minute

Submit the materials early so faculty members can spend more time reviewing your materials

Resources   National Portfolio Fairs  National Portfolio Day