ESPN+ Series Takes Viewers Inside a Mark Morris Dance Group Audition

Up to four company spots available. Two days of open classes. 380 hopeful dancers. These are the stakes laid out at the start of the fifth episode of the new ESPN+ series “Tryouts,” which takes viewers inside the pressure-cooker environment of a Mark Morris Dance Group audition.

The series, which premiered last month, tracks some of the country’s most intense tryouts and auditions. Rather than focusing exclusively on traditional sports, many of the episodes highlight more niche groups: a Monster Truck competition, Long Beach Lifeguards tryouts, and the USA curling team, among others.

The 40-minute MMDG episode, airing May 8, primarily follows four auditionees through rounds of callbacks and gives viewers a glimpse of their lives outside of the studio. (Spoiler alert: At least one of them makes it all the way through and is offered a spot in the company.) The cameras also turn to the other side of the room. Morris, MMDG president and executive director Nancy Umanoff, and company director Sam Black are interviewed about the audition process, and they share what they’re looking for in prospective dancers. And the episode offers contextual information about Morris’ legacy, showing footage of the choreographer and his company performing over the past three decades.

Throughout, there’s plenty of dancing, giving a sports viewership a true glimpse into the world of modern dance. As one of the auditionees says early on, “This is the major leagues.”

An exclusive “Tryouts” clip, focused on the MMDG auditions, is available below. The full episode will be available on ESPN+ on May 8.

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