Stages are dark, but the show must go on—virtually, of course. Whether you’re a comedian headed for Saturday Night Live, a future Grammy Awards winner, an aspiring Broadway star, a dancer with killer moves, or someone just looking to join a fun community of student artists, Columbia is a great place to explore the performing arts, even during this unconventional fall semester.
While most of us will not be on campus in the city known for its world-class cultural scene, Columbia’s student groups are bringing New York’s vibrant arts offerings to you. From Shakespeare to musical theater, a cappella to comedy, dance to orchestra, and everything in between—there’s something for everyone who thrives in front of an audience. Find the group that’s right for you, connect with your artistic peers, and see for yourself why Columbia’s arts community is so special.
To help you out, we’ve compiled information on auditions for a variety of student groups and productions for this semester. Most of these auditions are happening in the next couple of weeks, so drink your Throat Coat, take your vitamin C, and get your vocal cords humming and toes tapping. Keep in mind that this is not a comprehensive list—some groups have yet to post their audition information, so keep your eye on their websites and Facebook pages in the coming weeks.
Barnard’s theater department
The department is putting on two full-length virtual performances this fall: “Electra,” based on the tragic Greek tale, and “Stupid Fucking Bird,” a contemporary adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s classic play “The Seagull.”
To audition for these shows, fill out this form by 5 p.m. on Sept. 8. Auditions will begin at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8 on Zoom using this link. Callback lists will be sent out in the evening of Sept. 8 or the morning of Sept. 9.
This semester, to take acting classes, you must apply rather than audition. If you are only interested in acting classes and not the department’s productions, fill out this form by 10 a.m. on Sept. 9. If you register for classes without applying, you will be dropped, so make sure you get your forms in! There will be an information meeting for everyone interested in classes and shows at 6 p.m. on Sept. 8.
The Varsity Show
The 126th annual Varsity Show will be the first digital production in this performing arts tradition’s storied history. The show would have been produced this past spring, but since Columbia transitioned to remote learning, it has been digitally reimagined and will be put up in November. Auditions for the 127th iteration will also take place in November. Look out for more information later in the semester.
XMAS! is Columbia’s annual student-written secular spectacular, now in its 15th year. With a tagline of “XMAS is for everyone!”, XMAS! encourages actors of all skill levels and varying experience to audition. Apply to compose the show or work on the XMAS! team through the group’s Facebook page. Auditions and interviews will take place the week of Sept. 14—keep an eye out for more information.
Other student theater groups
The Columbia University Performing Arts League will facilitate online auditions for the groups listed below during the week of Sept. 14. Check the CUPAL Facebook page for Zoom links and more information coming soon.
Black Theatre Ensemble Columbia Musical Theatre Society Columbia University Players King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe New and Original Material Authored and Directed by Students 6Days Theater Latenite Theatre
A cappella groups
To audition for Columbia a cappella groups, you must complete a virtual audition through this form by Sept. 9 at midnight. You can audition for one, some, or all of the groups—more information about each group and what you need to record is provided on the form. We’ve also included some links below where you can learn more!
Columbia University Bach Society
Bach Society is a student-run orchestra and choir ensemble mainly focused on the Baroque and Classical periods. The group is holding auditions from Sept. 11 to 13 via Zoom. All interested students are encouraged to audition—if students do not have the space or equipment to audition from home, Bach Society will work to accommodate them. The group plans to host a virtual or recorded performance later in the semester. Reach out to email@example.com for more information.
Columbia Classical Performers
CCP hosts recitals and master classes to provide free classical music to the Columbia community. The group usually holds between two and four recitals each semester and organizes its programs based on the group of interested musicians. If you’re interested in organizing a solo recital or otherwise getting involved with CCP, reach out to Christopher Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org or Shelly Zhu at email@example.com during the first few weeks of the semester.
New Opera Workshop
Columbia’s opera performance group is hosting a variety of social gatherings in lieu of its traditional fall performances. Anyone interested in singing or orchestral opera performance is encouraged to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved this semester.
Columbia University Wind Ensemble
A group of wind and percussion musicians, CUWE is holding auditions for all instruments via this form until the end of September. This semester, the group will host social and workshop meetings and present a virtual concert at the end of November.
Columbia New Music
This group encourages experimentation through a variety of musical forms and languages with the goal of giving student composers and performers a chance to step out of their musical comfort zones. Check back for updates about how to get involved with this innovative group.
Columbia Ballet Collaborative
CBC is hosting a series of open workshops taught by several choreographers via Zoom over the course of the semester. No audition is required.
In addition, CBC will offer a mentorship program for selected students to develop their choreographic skills under the guidance of a professional choreographer. The 10-session program will culminate with a virtual live showcase. Interested students will submit a written application; details are to come. Keep up with CBC on Facebook for updates.
Columbia University Ballet Ensemble
CUBE is producing a full-length virtual production of the classical ballet “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Interested students must fill out this form by midnight on Sept. 11. A virtual audition class will take place on Sept. 12 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. The class is required for those who have previous dance experience but did not participate in CUBE during the spring 2020 season. If you participated in CUBE in the spring, or if you have no previous dance experience, the class is optional. Everyone who fills out the form and attends the audition, if required, will be cast.
This all-inclusive dance group, which features a variety of styles ranging from contemporary to hip-hop to ballet, will be putting on a virtual student-choreographed dance show with rehearsals held over Zoom and a final online performance in December. Anyone interested in joining the group should attend an interest meeting on Sept. 13 at 3 p.m. via Zoom. Following the meeting, an interest form will become available.
The group will also host weekly student-run dance and workout classes on Zoom, open to all who would like to participate. Information about upcoming classes will be posted online or shared via email—fill out this form or email email@example.com to stay in the loop.
This nationally competitive South Asian dance team is hosting a workshop on Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. Interested dancers can learn some moves and hang out with the team.
Columbia’s coed Bollywood fusion dance team is holding auditions for the fall semester. The first step is to fill out this form by Sept. 13. The group will send out a tutorial video for the dance you need to learn for the audition, and you will send back a video of yourself dancing. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, and keep up with the team on Facebook.
CU Generation is a dance team with roots in Asian culture that performs a wide variety of dance and music styles. To audition, you will first watch the choreography video that will become available on the Facebook event page at 6 p.m. on Sept. 17. You will have 24 hours to learn the piece and film yourself performing it. By 6 p.m. on Sept. 18, send your video to email@example.com. The email should use the subject line “Fall 2020 Audition” and also include your name, UNI, phone number, school, and class year.
Also, let the team know if you can attend virtual practices every Tuesday from 10 to 12 a.m. and Sunday from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m., and write about your previous dance experience, if you have any.
Other dance groups
Keep an eye on some of Columbia’s other dance groups—go to their websites or Facebook pages to learn more about them and make sure you never miss an update. Note that this is not a comprehensive list.
While comedy groups haven’t yet released information about virtual programming, you can get to know them online—and keep working on your punchlines in the meantime! Here are a few groups to look into:
A little advice before you step into the audition room (or rather, the audition Zoom): Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and have confidence in your abilities. You’re here for a reason. Nerves are okay—everyone behind your computer screen knows what it’s like to be in your shoes. Remember to keep an open mind about different groups and productions. There is definitely a place for you in the performing arts community here—you just have to find it.