Audition #4: “Cutman”, Goodspeed

It took an enormous amount of coffee and will power to get myself up and to work this morning, which included getting my things ready for this call as well as ballet class after the call.  Even just a couple days of running back and forth from work to the auditions has been wearing me out.  On Monday alone I rode the subway 8 times.

I knew they were looking for “ring girls,” so I decided to try the Naked Strategy today.  There is an American Apparel right near work, so I went there to find a bikini top-type bra and some skimpy running shorts.  I found an awesome black lame striped triangle bra and black short shorts.  Here they are:

I felt pretty prepared to dance while holding a numbered sign over my head.

Luckily, my friend Alison joined me for this call.  She got to the studio before me and put our names on the non-union list.  We are #24 and #25 and it seemed like there wasn’t a huge amount of Equity dancers.  Alison made my life infinitely easier today since I don’t have to run to the studio just to sign up and then run back to work.  One headache gone, thanks to the awesomeness of teamwork.

I leave work around 1:38 PM, pick up hairspray for us (Alison and I are both out), and jump onto the 1 train.  I get there at 2:04 and they’ve taken the first group of Equity in.  There are only two groups of Equity girls.  Everyone is dressed like scantily clad boxer girls in character heels.

We wait for an hour and a half for them to complete dancing the two groups of Equity dancers.  They take all the non-union dancers into the room at once.  We hear from the Equity girls that the dance is basically described as “Pussycat Dolls choreography”.  Nothing too technical, but be prepared to shake the booty and toss the hair.  Alison and I are ready to shake it.  At least today I’m going to get to dance!

This is the first combination I’ve been able to get down pretty well out of the 4 calls I’ve been on in the last week and a half.  It is everything the other girls before us promised, complete with booty bumps and feeling yourself up.

I’m in one of the last groups and I do pretty well, but I can tell who they like and why.  I know I’m not acting enough and that my nerves are getting the best of me.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept Alison because she’s so great at adding acting beats to all of her dancing.

Unfortunately we both get cut.  I got lots of compliments on my outfit but not my dancing.  I head back to work for about an hour after making a quick Starbucks run with Alison.  I decide to leave work and go to 6 PM ballet class to get my ya-yas out, despite being utterly exhausted and having a budding case of tendonitis in my right foot.

I have to be honest.  I wrote this earlier post on failure, which inspired a lot of my readers, but even I’m having a hard time hanging on to what I said before.  It’s my first full week back to the regular audition circuit, and I have a lot of respect for dancers who have been doing this longer than I.  My ego has taken a serious beating.  Not only am I *already* a physical wreck, but I feel terrible about my dancing, my technique, my nerves, my ability to perform when needed, and a whole other slew of things.  Even class was difficult for me to get through from a pure self confidence standpoint.

I’ve already started to wonder if I’m a worse dancer than I think, if I’m even cut out for this.  I don’t have the theatre/acting technique for musical theatre auditions and my ballet/technical dance skills are not good enough for ballet or contemporary companies.  I already feel stuck.

I try to remind myself that I need to continue to work hard and be gentle with myself.  I try to remind myself that these girls have been doing this for a long time.  I try to remind myself that I’m a huge baby because I’m going to have to deal with a lot more rejection than this.  I’m only on Audition #4 for crying out loud.  But you all know, it’s hard for it to not be personal cut after cut.

My friend Rachel’s Facebook status is extremely relevant today.  She shares some advice her very wise aunt gave her – “When life gives you lemons, it’s time to start drinking.”

I talked with my friend Lauren after class about the audition.  I told her how I knew who they liked.  She told me she’s flubbed tons of combinations, but as long as she goes 110% for the character they are looking for, she always gets asked to stay.  I need to start having more fun.  I can tell that half the time I have my thinking face on and I’m still not over my nerves when I walk in the room.  I can learn a complex ballet combination in 2 minutes and yet silly musical theatre choreography I’m freaking out about?  Seems it’s a lot more about the attitude than having the steps perfect.  I’m gonna work on that.

You just can’t give up.  This week made me question myself.  A lot.  Time to let go and move on.

I don’t know why, but for some reason I’m reminded of the play “Our Town” when I saw it at Barrow Street Theatre and I wanted to share some thoughts on it with you.

For those of you who didn’t get to see it, it’s closed, so this isn’t a spoiler.  One of the best and most thought-provoking productions I’ve seen.

The entire play, the actors do not wear costumes – just jeans and t-shirts mostly.  It’s a period play so it’s kind of jarring.  There is no lighting.  The house lights are up the entire time.  There is no set aside from two tables and some chairs.  There are no props.  All of the action is pantomimed.

Until the very end.

There is a black curtain at one end of the stage that you don’t really notice.  After Emily dies and they have the scene in the graveyard, she says she wants to go back to one of her birthdays (her 11th I believe) and re-live that day – FYI, she’s a ghost or a spirit at this point.  The other dead people from the town warn her against it.  But she goes back to that memory anyway.

At this point in the play, the stage hands pull back the black curtain and reveal a completely detailed set.  There is frost on the window panes.  Emily’s mother is dressed in period garb and apron complete with grease stains.  Every last nook and cranny of the house is visible and detailed.  It’s snowing past the window and lit as if dawn is about to break.  The best detail: BACON IS FRYING ON THE STOVE.  You can smell it throughout the entire theatre.

The director decided ON PURPOSE, to STARVE the audience of all the sensory details of daily life so that at the end of the story, when our dead character would go back to re-live this memory in all its detail, we would FINALLY APPRECIATE what it means to be alive.

We go through life always wanting more.  After Emily goes back to the other spirits she says to one of them, “The living don’t understand, do they,” and the other replies, “No, Emily, they don’t.”  It was all right in front of us the entire time.

I’m not really sure why this is relevant to my silly audition today.  Maybe it’s the key to beginning to consistently make it past the first cut.  More likely, it’s just some perspective.  It’s only the middle of the week, and I’m tired and burned out, but there is so much to appreciate about life.  I spend a lot of time complaining about what I don’t have.  We all do.  I want one of these theatre gigs really badly so I can finally leave the day job.  But I’m living the dream, working hard, and going for it.  There’s a lot to still appreciate.  A lot to learn, a lot to improve on, and I should take a new lesson away from each audition, but also keep working to appreciate the journey and every step along the way.

Even though life has been crazy hectic leaving work, I’m applying for a new job EVERY DAY almost.  At least every week.  I wasn’t doing that before.  I actually feel more alive than I have in quite awhile.

I also have some fresh oatmeal raisin cookies that just came out of the oven.  And they smell amazing. So on that note…

Next!

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8 thoughts on “Audition #4: “Cutman”, Goodspeed

  1. I know exactly why you thought of that moment in Our Town, and I completely relate and understand. Basically there comes a point in time where you are so focused on getting everything right and perfect that before you know it you lost your chance to just let it all go and dance. This happens in class all the time, before you know it class is over but you feel like you barely danced at all. A lesson I am learning is coming in to class and dancing from the inside out from your very first plie to the end of center. Letting certain details go in favor of understanding the whole when learning choreography also makes a big difference. And most importantly, whether right or wrong every step you take must be committed to. I often get criticized for my transitional steps, not making them big or clear enough but when I commit to a movement fully it makes a world of difference and you start to dance, not mark steps. I am working on this every day but it’s one of the most oddly difficult things to do. Let go of perfection in favor of conviction and conveying something through movement. As my favorite ballet teacher, Graciela Kozak, always says: ” Give yourself permission to dance.” ❤

    1. Jillian, this is such a beautiful observation. Dance I feel must be one of the most challenging sports to master since it is an expressive art as well as a sport that requires an intense amount of physical training. Those two levels make it challenging to find the balance that you spoke of in your comment. Too true what your ballet teacher said. I definitely need to work more towards this 🙂

  2. Well the other piece of my Aunt Rose’s advice is “Don’t get a big fat ass.” Clearly, you are on the right path. I swear, half of this blog is you being inspiring, and the other half is you looking foxy. She would approve.

    1. I saw that on your FB post too! Though the added alcohol consumption might counteract the effect of all the dancing… Still, I wish I had an Aunt Rose who gave me advice like that.

      You are too kind 🙂

  3. Wonderful post. And yes, you are living the dream, exhausting and exhilarating and defeating as it is. You’d always wonder “could I…should I…what did I miss?” if you didn’t. No one said the dream would be easy, is the little secret they don’t tell ya! I think you’ve put your finger on many of the things that are truly difficult about working as a performer. Maybe one tactic is to pick your specialty and really mine it. Like, if you’re not a ring girl, don’t go to those calls. Or go, but use them as your “rehearsal” in incorporating acting beats, doing the combo full out even if it’s wrong, even appearing confident when you aren’t, etc. Use it instead of letting it use you.
    And I am so glad Alison was with you – you need others as a group to help each other–sign each other in, pick up supplies, etc, so the hard logistics are a little easier. As to the fatigue – maybe it’s like when add in more classes or a new workout: at first you’re exhausted and wonder how you can do it. It gets easier as you settle into the rhythm of this new routine. You won’t have to think so much about all the logistics and the running around will seem more normal, too. Hope so, anyway! Hugs! WATCH THAT TENDONITIS…seriously

  4. Agreed re: the importance of attitude/having fun/embodying the character.

    In my days as an extremely amateur dancer, my attitude and such was the main thing that my teachers and the people who watched me perform loved about me. It really made me stand out from my fellow dancers who were just a little too serious about the routine and not really getting into the dance. My teachers would always have myself and another girl demonstrate the combinations, the one girl because she had flawless technique and myself because I always embodied the spirit of what the combination/character/song was trying to express.

  5. I know you’re not religious, but I thought of 1 Corinthians 13, the first part couple verses, about the importance of love…

    1If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

    What love is, though, is something we have to define for ourselves.
    Side note: Have you read “The War of Art”? I’d highly recommend it, especially when you’re getting down on yourself.

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