Audition #16: Jody Oberfelder company

The subtitle of this audition is It Doesn’t Always Pay to Be a Hero.  There’s a time to be an audition hero and a time not to be.  This audition for me, was definitely not the time to be a hero.

If you read about audition #15, you read about how I injured my left shoulder doing a crazy floor routine.  I had a physical therapy appointment last week and found that I have a pulled rotator cuff and a pulled tricep. This all just in time for an invited audition to a mid-level contemporary company, and the workshop/audition weekend for the Laban Conservatory in the U.K.  (I’m in the midst of that workshop now!  Will be writing about it on Monday).

I know I have to take it easy.  It would be extremely bad if the rotator cuff strain turns into a tear.  We would be looking at surgery and 6 weeks of recovery time.

Honestly, I had a moment when I thought I would skip this audition.  That’s not my style.  I like to push through everything no matter how bad I fail and see it to the end.  You are all reading this blog and have seen me get knocked down 15 times and counting.

So I negotiated with myself.  I didn’t want to be unprofessional and no-show to an invited audition for a great company, but I decided I would tell the auditors about my injury and if the routine was too difficult, then I would modify or simply say I’m sorry but I can’t.

I show up at Paul Taylor Studios for the audition and warm up carefully.  When I find the warm, friendly choreographer auditioning us, I let her know about my shoulder.  She seems concerned and says the routine is very energetic and physical and asks me if handstands would be a problem.

Of course.  I injure my shoulder and now all everybody wants me to do is HANDSTANDS!  So I try a few against the wall carefully to get them into my nervous system and the audition begins.

Appropriately for both my situation and for this blog post, Jody’s current work and the phrases we learned centered around SUPER HEROS.  I swear the Universe sometimes is communicating with me in strange ways.

At first we just did some very basic group improv.  Walking around and slowly adding elements and finding spaces around each other and then interacting with the wall.

Then we did an improv in small groups.  It was roughly described as follows: “You are knocked off your feet or through the air by a huge blast and have a moment to hide and recover, and then you burst through the cloud of black smoke to go and save humanity.”

I’m feeling capable of doing almost anything except handstands and saving humanity right now.

We do this in groups of five about 4 times.  It’s a little rough on me but I try to be careful.

Next we learn a phrase.  We watch three of the company members perform it first.  There are not one, not two, not three, but FOUR times we have to do either a handstand, a cartwheel, or some other crazy flip that involves torquing the shoulder.

I’m feeling intensely frustrated at this point.  This work would normally be right up my alley.  Normally, I feel invincible.  I’ve been going to gymnastics and I know I can do this.  But my shoulder is just in too much pain.  With this kind of injury, it’s not just putting weight on it.  I’m at risk every time I do a pirouette or every time I use that shoulder muscle to shift my weight.  I didn’t realize until I sustained this injury just how much I use my shoulders when I’m dancing.

For a brief moment I thought to myself, “I have to leave this audition.”  But it felt like giving up.  It felt like I was somehow failing to prove to myself that I could learn this phrase or failing to challenge myself to modify it so that I could both keep my shoulder safe AND look amazing.

So basically, I went with the theme.  I tried to be a superhero. I tried to have my cake and eat it too, a la mode.  It was the wrong move.

I felt my shoulder pain getting worse as the audition went on.  At times I felt like I had to dance with my arm in an invisible sling in order to protect it.  It’s not just the injured area that’s affected.  It messes with your entire nervous system.  I couldn’t move the way that I would normally.  At one point when we got to doing the phrase in small groups, I even fell right on my ass.  I got up and just continued as calmly as I could.

I didn’t make my injury any worse, but I didn’t show my best work by any means.  I don’t think it did any good to audition injured.  I don’t want the choreographer to remember me as a dancer who holds back and can’t execute the combination with confidence.  I was completely impinged.

I got cut in the first round.  But I knew that would happen.

I cried.  Not because I got cut but because I was overwhelmed with not having full access to all of my facilities as a dancer.  The best thing I could have done for both my injury and my confidence was to hold back and say, “No, Katrina, today is not the day to be a hero and stick it out.”

I was in a lot of pain at this point.  I went home and iced.  See the photo for reference.  It’s feeling better now and I have more PT next week, but I have to stop and rest.

I’m already so far behind on the auditions I was meant to do this year, but I’m sorry guys, after Laban this weekend (who also wants me to do freaking HANDSTANDS), I need to take 2-3 weeks off of auditioning to allow this to heal, or I’m going to be in big trouble.  I will have to find creative things to write about to keep you all entertained and of course I’ll update you on my healing progress, but I can’t let a shoulder strain progress into a tear.  I’m even going to stay away from classes a little and work mostly on my core strength.

This is disappointing, but this happened because I didn’t protect myself.  I have to be responsible for myself and my instrument.  What’s done is done, but I can’t allow it to get worse.

So, I’m done being a hero for a little bit here.  Time to regroup.  Don’t worry though, I’ll be back in action saving the world soon enough. 🙂



3 thoughts on “Audition #16: Jody Oberfelder company

    1. Jody, thank you for your kind response and for the info! I completely understand. It was bad timing as I LOVE doing really athletic work and have some gymnastics training, so perhaps the next time around! I am on your mailing list so I think I have this in my inbox, but I will spread the word and try to make it out. Best always 🙂

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