So this week, my manager is out from the day job and I’ve decided to carefully and strategically make it to 3 chorus calls. I think people at work are starting to give me funny looks and I might be pushing the envelope a little bit, but we’ll see how far I can get. I’m taking the week to test my strategy, appropriately named “Basic Strategy for Leaving the 9-5 Day Job in the Middle of the Day to do AEA Chorus Calls”.
As a side note, my friend who was joining me for this call asked me, “Is it possible I could skip work and not even get seen?” Yes, we could not even get seen. But that’s the business!
Here’s an outline of the “Basic Strategy”:
- Get up early and go sign in on the non-union list at the call
- Go to work for an hour or two
- Come back and find out where they are on the non-union list and either stay or come back later (meaning I might have to come back to work and leave work multiple times) using my best judgment on how the audition is going
- Keep my laptop with me and “pretend” to be at work by answering emails while at the call
I’m lucky that my job doesn’t keep close tabs on me, but I probably won’t be able to get away with this when the manager is here. The “Wicked” call is exactly 4 subway stops away from my office so I’m thinking I can pull this off.
I get up at 7:15 AM and get around, put in curlers curlers, the bright blue leotard and all, and my work clothes on over it. I check my work email before I go. I already have several emails with urgent requests from co-workers. This could blow my cover.
The other annoying thing is that I have to carry my laptop with me, along with dance clothes, dance shoes, curlers, headshots, sheet music, change of clothes, lunch, coffee, snacks, etc.
For those of you who don’t know, this is a common problem for female actresses/dancers/performers. The Schlep Factor is outrageous in NYC. So much so that if you have auditions for multiple contrasting characters in one day it sometimes requires a rolling suitcase. No joke. I am lucky enough to live on 7th ave and West 4th Street. Most girls come in from the boroughs with all that stuff.
I leave my apartment with all this STUFF and begin to seriously consider starting an under-priced door-to-door shuttle service for actresses in NYC as a new business venture. Still seriously considering that… Could be a brilliant idea.
My friend Rani takes a picture for me as I come in to work to illustrate:
Now this may not LOOK like a lot of stuff but it’s freaking heavy. Especially with the laptop in my huge purse on my right shoulder. The Grishko bag is carrying all my other dance supplies, a change of clothes, curlers, music book, water bottle, and all that other junk I mentioned.
I arrive at Chelsea Studios at 9:15 AM. I’m STILL number 56 on the non-union list. WTF? The call doesn’t even start until 10:30 AM.
I get on the train and go to work for half an hour, try to knock out a bunch of stuff and email myself some files to work on since I can’t access the network off-site.
At 10:15 AM, I head back down to Chelsea Studios. I figure if I get there by 10:30 I’ll be able to figure out if they are even seeing non-union. Of course, the 1 train takes approximately EIGHT YEARS to come. I arrive back at Chelsea Studios by 10:46 (yes, 16 minutes is EIGHT YEARS to most New Yorkers).
They have surprisingly gotten through the AEA dancers already and I arrive to find the monitor reading off names from the non-union list. She’s already up to 30-something. I don’t make the cut for the first group. This is surprisingly lucky. It means I didn’t get passed by and it also means I have time to warm up. But it still doesn’t mean I’m going to get seen, though it seems they are moving along quickly.
I change, warm up, get on and off the work email periodically, talk to the other dancers and start to get the scoop of what’s going on. The auditors are seeing as many girls as they can today and they aren’t doing a second round. They’re taking headshots from the dancers they like and having them do call backs at a later date. This is new to me. I also learn that many of the girls have already done this combination before. Many times. I am already recognizing dancers from the “Guys and Dolls” call I went on last week. One of the particularly petite ones is there. I overhear “I’m too short apparently, but this is the shortest show on Broadway!” I’m 5’3″ so maybe this is a good thing for me. My current subletter is there. “This combination is so hard for me,” she says, “It’s so contemporary.”
Funny thing, information gathering for these dance calls.
They are moving quickly through the groups. My group is called in just before 12:00 PM. The combination is VERY contemporary and VERY weird. I already know I’m a little too “ballet” for this. At least I can get it this time – it’s not super fast and crazy booty shaking like “Guys and Dolls”! Still, I begin to realize, as some girls pre-empt the choreography, that I am one of the few in the room who hasn’t done this combination before.
I feel pretty confident with my work, except for one stupid part where you do some opposing arms and then a weird parallel side attitude two times. This is just a matter of getting the right thing in your body. There is a live band playing with us and the counts are in 4’s and 5’s, not even 8’s. I find out that you just have to basically move on every beat and keep driving. It’s very even.
I’m in the first group of 8 dancers and we do the combination twice. I mess up the arms the first time! My body just betrayed me! Silly nervous system. I’ll get it the second time. Nope. Same mistake. At least I tried to give them what they were looking for in terms of direction and movement. Arms can always be fixed, right?
They take one of the super small girls from my group and that’s it. Ugh. I’m not sure if it was because I messed up the arms or because I’m not super small that I wasn’t asked to stay. Probably both.
I leave so quickly with the rest of the girls that I end up leaving my jazz shoes in the room! I don’t realize this until I get out of the subway station near my office. I still need to go back and get them! I hope they are there, otherwise, gonna have to get some new jazz shoes. How annoying 😛 I tell myself it could have been worse though and start thinking that might want to bring my valuables into the room with me as some of the girls do.
Whatever. I buy myself an iced coffee just for making a valiant effort. I quiety sneak back into my office where it is a little easier to pretend to do work. But really I’m writing this blog post. 😀
Lots of lessons learned this morning. Hopefully the afternoon calls tomorrow and Wednesday will be a little easier to skip work to do. If you are following/coming with me to the auditions, here’s what I have for the rest of the week:
2/15 – 2 PM at Chelsea Studios – Flat Rock Playhouse ECC
2/16 – 2 PM at Chelsea Studios – “Cutman” at Goodspeed, CT
It’s a Chelsea Studios kind of week apparently. I’m trying to get a couple auditions ahead of myself just in case there are some dry weeks ahead.
Also, some of my readers have requested a cost breakdown of everything I spend money on for auditions in an attempt to get work. I am keeping track of these things and will have periodic posts to update you on the expenses I incur in the process, TO THE PENNY. We will see how much I end up spending before my next contract, and if I even end up breaking even! I’m keeping track and will add one of these posts soon enough.