World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival

Audition Brochure 2004 graphic






2017 San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival
Audition Information & Guidelines

Auditions for the 39th Annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival will be held from Friday – Sunday, November 4 – 6, 2016, with all of the details listed below. Please review some NEW rules in our auditions process.

These auditions are not only for the chance to perform in the June 2017 San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, but also for the opportunity to perform in front of booking agencies, to have a professional DVD copy of your audition for future promotional use, exposure to a large audience, other arts presenters and funders, and much more (click for Audition Benefits).

We encourage dancers to apply early to take advantage of the free early submission deadline on Wednesday, August 31, 2016. See details below.

We hope to see you there!

Table of Contents

(Click on links to skip to sections)

June 2017 Festival Dates
What is the 2017 Festival Looking For?
Who Can Audition?
NEW this year!
When & Where are the Auditions?
How to Apply
Application Fees & Deadlines
Payment Options
Your Audition Date & Time Slot
Soloists/Duets video submissions
Application Tips
Production Details
  • Performance Time Limits
  • Dressing Rooms
  • Props
  • Stage & Lighting
  • Music
Selection Process
  • Festival Artistic Directors
  • Festival Panelists
  • Panel Review Criteria
Final Selection for June 2017 Festival
June 2017 Festival Artist Responsibilities
  • Photo Shoot
  • Production Meetings
  • Tech & Dress Rehearsals
Audition Benefits

June 2017 Festival Dates

The 39th Annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival will take place from June 2 – 18, 2017.

What is the 2017 Festival Looking For?

The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival seeks to present dance forms from around the world that are rooted in a cultural tradition. We are interested in dances that reflect all aspects of culture, including sacred or spiritual dances, social dance, secular or vernacular dance, dances from life cycle events, and innovative work based in traditional dance forms. World Arts West recognizes that many dance forms stem from multiple roots, and are often influenced significantly by the context of presentation on our Festival stage.
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Who Can Audition?

The auditions are open to artists residing in Northern California. Guest artists from any location are welcome to audition with any local group or artist. Each dance company is encouraged to select its best work to present at the Festival audition, and only one audition per company or soloist is allowed.

Child Performers
The Festival welcomes children and youth performers of the highest caliber. However, we are not a children’s dance festival, nor are the auditions meant as a showcase for many solo recitals from the same school or company. Note that the commitment to perform in the Festival requires a rigorous schedule of evening rehearsals and back-to-back performances. Please consider the stamina and parental supervision necessary for children who wish to participate before auditioning.
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NEW this year!

  • Auditions will be held at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco for one weekend only: Friday, November 4 – Sunday, November 6.
  • All Soloist and Duet auditions will be by video this year due to venue limitations. Links to video recordings of each audition are due by Thursday, September 15 at 5pm. Please review our Soloists/Duets video submission requirements.
  • All Group auditions will be live on the Palace of Fine Arts stage, during the three days of Auditions: November 4 – 6.

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When & Where are the Auditions?

November 4 – 6, 2016
Friday – Sunday
Palace of Fine Arts Theatre

3301 Lyon Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
4pm - 8pm approx. (Friday)
11am – 8pm approx. (Saturday & Sunday)
Directions to venue

Note for Audiences
The auditions are open to the public for a $10 adult entrance fee (cash only).
Children 12 years & under are admitted for free.
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How to Apply

You can fill out an electronic application starting August 2016:
Please read Application Tips

Be sure to save and print a copy of your application for your files. If you do not receive an email confirmation once you submit your online application, please contact our office immediately at 415-474-3914 between the hours of 10am – 5pm, Monday through Friday. Please note that we no longer accept mailed or faxed applications.

Soloists under 18
Soloists under the age of 18 need to submit a letter of support from their teacher with their application. Please email the letter as an attachment (PDF format) to
Subject line should read: 2017 EDF Audition letter of support- Soloist name

Having trouble filling out the electronic application?
You can view our PDF version, answer all the questions on a Word document, and email the document to
Subject line should read: 2017 EDF Audition Application- Group/Soloist name
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Application Fees & Deadlines

Application fee: $35
Written panel comment fee (optional): $25
(comments available by February 2017)
Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by 5pm (FREE Early Submission Deadline)
No application fee
Thursday, September 15, 2016 by 5pm (FINAL Deadline)
$35 application fee
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Payment Options

Pay by debit or credit card (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, AmEx) via PayPal through the link at the end of your application (before clicking the SUBMIT button). A PayPal account is not required.

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Your Audition Date and Time Slot

Confirmation of your audition date and time (for live group auditions only) will be emailed to you as an attachment during the week of October 3, 2016. It will include your check-in time, warm-up time, and audition time, as well as directions to the audition site and other pertinent information.

  • Audition times are assigned on a first come, first served basis and cannot be changed once assigned. Make sure you indicate your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices in the application.
  • Cancellation/No Show: It takes a considerable amount of staff time and resources to prepare for your audition. If you must cancel, please do so no later than a week before your scheduled audition.
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Soloists/Duets video submissions

  • Video must be no longer than 5 minutes. Longer videos will not be accepted.
  • We encourage the highest video quality possible. A video shot on a smart phone IS acceptable, but be sure to have good lighting, steady hand behind the camera, and that the focus is on your dance.
  • Video must show only the piece you are auditioning in its entirety, from beginning to end. Any video that includes other material or only excerpts of the audition will not be accepted.
  • A plain background is best; no backdrops or props needed unless they are part of the dance.

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Application Tips

  • Completing this application is a detailed process. It may take you more than one session to complete it so allow yourself plenty of time.
  • When completing the online application be sure to:
  • CREATE a password to login, edit, and complete your application at any time in the process.
  • WRITE out your answers separately so your session doesn’t expire before you’re done. We recommend you type your answers in a Word document first and then cut and paste them into the online application.
  • SAVE your work frequently!
  • PRINT & SAVE a copy of your application for your files.
  • SUBMIT only one application per email address.
  • For assistance with your application please contact or call World Arts West at 415-474-3914 between the hours of 10am – 5pm, Monday through Friday.
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Production Details

Performance Time Limits
Soloists* and Duets: 5 minutes or less (A soloist is one dancer and a duet is considered two dancers, regardless of the number of accompanying musicians)
*See RULE about soloists under 18
Groups: 10 minutes or less (A group is defined as having more than two dancers)

World Arts West recognizes that many genres are not well represented by the relatively short amount of time allotted on the audition stage. Please note: Exceeding the allotted time of your audition will adversely affect the outcome of your audition.

Dressing Rooms
Each group will be assigned a dressing room at artist check-in the day of the audition.

Please keep your props at auditions to a minimum, since set-up time is limited. You must provide a detailed list of props you will be using on stage on your application, to be reviewed by the Production Manager. No glass or fire is allowed at the auditions, but arrangements can be made for inclusion in Festival performances. Please note any special props on the application.

Stage & Lighting
The stage floor is particle board over sprung wood. During the auditions the house and stage lights are on and the curtain remains open. There are no lighting changes on stage during each audition. If special lighting effects are crucial to your piece, please indicate this in your application so that the audition panelists may be advised of this feature as they evaluate your audition.

Live Music
Although it is not a requirement, we encourage you to incorporate live music. If you are selected for the Festival, we will provide an additional fee for companies performing with live musicians. It is our hope that musicians and dancers will come together to perform dance pieces with the best presentation possible. We have found that artists performing with live music receive more booking requests from presenters who attend the auditions and the Festival as a “booking showcase." In addition, reviewers are often more favorable to artists with live music. To read reviews of past Festivals click here. If you plan to perform with musicians in the Festival but they cannot be present at the auditions, please indicate this in your application.
Recorded Music
If recorded music is used for your audition, it must be of the highest professional sound quality and you must bring 2 CD copies. In the past, poor sound quality has often been reflected in the panel’s response to pieces that have not been selected. We are aware that the choice for dancers to use recorded music often comes from two factors: expense and availability of musicians. On our part, we are committed to providing audio reinforcement for high quality sound, and we will credit your musicians in our publicity.
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Selection Process

Festival Artistic Directors
The Festival artistic directors will be looking for the strongest work to present on the Festival stages. They will be consulting with a panel of dance experts throughout the auditions, and will select the final roster within several weeks after the auditions conclude.

Festival Panelists
Your audition will be performed before a group of panelists selected by the producers of the Festival, World Arts West. The panelists are noted for their dance backgrounds, cultural expertise, and reputations in the field. They are sensitive to world arts and cultures, and are knowledgeable in dance/theater presentation. A panelist may have a specific expertise in one or more areas of world dance or may be a “generalist” with a broad background in dance presentation for the stage.

Additional Notes
  • Conflict of Interest: In the event that there is a conflict of interest, the panelist will refrain from participating in the particular group or soloist’s assessment.

  • Top Twenty List: The function of the panel is to provide guidance to the artistic directors in selecting the lineup for the current year’s Festival. At the end of auditions, each panelist will be asked to select his or her “top twenty” auditioning groups and soloists. All “top twenty” lists are then merged, creating a list of finalists from which the final Festival lineup will be selected. The artistic directors are responsible for making the final selection of artists for the Festival using this list of finalists.

  • Genre Expertise: With approximately 75 cultural genres represented each year at auditions, it is impossible to have specific expertise in each dance style. Panelists are chosen each year to reflect the current auditioning artists.

  • Panelist Bios: A list of panelists and their biographies will be posted on our website. Check for more information.

Panel Review Criteria
The piece you audition is what is being considered for the Festival. The audition panelists will be using the following guidelines, as well as the information from your application, to evaluate each audition. If you would like to receive written panel comments, which will be available by February 2017, please include an additional $25 when submitting your application.
  • Performance – technical execution, stage presence, ensemble rapport/soloist strength
    • What is the level of technical competence and command?
    • Are steps, group patterns and exits/entrances executed with unison and clarity?
    • Does the ensemble/soloist demonstrate consistent and coherent emotional/dramatic projection and rapport?
    • Does the ensemble/soloist project a sense of dynamism, focus, confidence and enthusiasm as appropriate for the genre of dance presented?

  • Production components – music, costuming, props, sets
    • Are production component choices appropriate or authentic?
    • Are they well executed, constructed and designed?
    • Are they integral to the piece?
    • Do the dancers relate to/respond to/use proficiently the production components?

  • Choreography – thematic clarity, appropriateness of movement vocabulary, structural strength, use of space
    • Is the material as described in the application clearly demonstrated?
    • Are the movement vocabulary choices appropriate and in sync with the theme?
    • Is there a structural coherence to the work in terms of an emotional arc, or narrative drive, or dramatic progression, or sequential transitions, or beginning-middle-end?
    • Is the use of stage space, within the cultural constraints of the dance, imaginative, balanced comprehensive and varied in exits/entrances, group patterns and directional interlacing?
    • Is the choice of number of dancers appropriate?
    • Does the dance sustain one's interest?

  • Relationship to Cultural Origins – Authenticity and/or Genre Growth
    • Is the work, as presented, clearly expressive of, or connected with, its cultural origins?
    • Does the work display adequate or impressive knowledge of its roots?
    • If a hybrid genre or fusion, does the work successfully integrate the disparate movement vocabularies as well as demonstrate technical and cultural understanding of its disparate roots?
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Final Selection for June 2017 Festival

We are committed to presenting a diverse, well-balanced, culturally sensitive, and theatrically strong program. It is the artistic directors who will make the final selection of the lineup for the Festival. Once the selections are made, we will notify all artists and issue a press release to announce the roster for the June 2017 Festival no later than beginning of March 2017. During the preparations for the Festival, the artistic directors may work with selected artists on transitions into and out of each piece to create a more artistically integrated overall experience. As always, the goal at auditions is for you to present your best work.

Other factors that impact the producer’s decisions on the final bill are:
  • Opportunity for New Artists: World Arts West is interested in bringing new performers to the Festival stage in order to give artists access to a wider audience and to give audiences an opportunity to see new work or little seen cultures.

  • Commissioned Works: World Arts West will commission several pieces to be presented during the course of the Festival.

  • Other Aesthetic Factors: Other selection factors include: overall dynamic flow, types of musical accompaniment, overall mood, visual enhancements, the balance of soloists, duets, and groups for a given performance, and more.
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June 2017 Festival Artist Responsibilities

Photo Shoot
We plan to schedule a Festival photo shoot for a weekend in early 2017. The date and location of the photo shoot may be announced at the audition.

Production Meetings
Production meetings will be scheduled with company directors/soloists for mid-April 2017*. We will discuss technical requirements, sound requirements, and any additional information needed for the program book and marketing. All company directors will be required to attend a 1½ hour meeting and need to come prepared to discuss the piece as well as technical and musical design ideas in detail at that time.

Tech & Dress Rehearsals
All dancers and musicians must attend a technical rehearsal held in the afternoon or evening of the Wednesday or Thursday* before the weekend of their performance, as well as a dress rehearsal, which is the Friday night before each weekend’s performances. This is the only time that the producers have with artists on the theater stage to work out sound checks, lighting, spacing, exits and entrances, and make any necessary adjustments. Upon selection, artists will be notified of all required technical rehearsal times before the contract will need to be signed and returned, should any scheduling conflicts arise.

*Dates are subject to change
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Audition Benefits

As an auditioning artist or artist group, you will have access to the following:
  • Exposure to a large audience, booking agents, funders and other arts presenters*
  • A DVD copy of your audition*
  • Artist Community Table at Festival performances for artist self-promotion
  • Audition schedule with links to artist websites*
  • Written comments from the panel (optional)
  • Inclusion in our community events page on the World Arts West website
  • Ongoing email blasts of programs, professional workshops, master classes, performances, funding opportunities, and more
  • Rotunda Dance Series performance opportunity (click here for more information)

*Applies to live group auditions only this year

If selected for the 2017 Festival, artists will receive many valuable benefits.
The Festival experience includes:
  • A performance opportunity at premiere presenting venues in the San Francisco Bay Area
  • Exposure to nearly 1000 audience members per show, other arts presenters, and funders
  • Artist fee for performance in Festival
  • Professional photo shoot session (currently planned but not confirmed)
  • Professionally produced DVD of Festival performance
  • Consultations with professional sound, scenic, and lighting designers and production staff
  • Increased visibility through an extensive marketing campaign:
    • Local and national PR pitches to print, broadcast, and online media
    • Website marketing
    • Print ads in newspapers and magazines
    • Commercial and public radio and television advertisements
    • Email blasts to World Arts West contacts, media partner lists, and other mail lists
    • Festival brochures, posters, and club cards to use for fundraising/grant writing purposes
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