Two auditions in one day = a half day at the day job and eight hours of dancing.
This is the first installment of the first day I’ve had with more than one dance audition. #19 will have the next one.
My friend sent me an email last week. His friend was looking for a replacement dancer for some upcoming performances. One of her dancers, unfortunately, had to leave suddenly due to a death in the family. So I sent her my stuff and she invited me and a few other dancers in to her next rehearsal.
Already it’s not your standard audition set up. It’s always better to be joining a rehearsal than be a number in a room. I had a lovely conversation with Teresa on the phone about the project and it sounded very funny and interesting. She had some excellent performances and a residency lined up before February. I knew there would be a few more girls there auditioning however, so I had to bring my A game.
I left work early and headed out to Mark Morris in Brooklyn for the four hour rehearsal with no idea what to expect.
There were three other dancers from Teresa’s company there and three other female dancers “auditioning”. We were asked to create our own phrase with some specific direction from her and then execute that phrase three different ways. This is the first time I’ve had to actually choreograph, so to speak, in an audition setting. We do this and she takes a look at what we’ve done and we move on.
Next, we started working on some different movement qualities that they were using for the piece. I don’t know if qualities is the right word, perhaps elements. The piece is kind of inspired by awkward middle school kids, which I knew plenty about having been through possibly the most awkward middle school stage ever recorded in history. So the different elements of movement (which we began to work with)they had incorporated into the choreography were kind of an exaggerated vocabulary that expressed awkward middle school movement. They included things such as tossing your limbs, changing direction quickly, spinning, etc.
Our next assignment was to create a phrase that incorporated all six different elements. So I did this and we each showed our phrase.
Moving on. The next task – and I’m beginning to feel like I’m describing different layers of a video game quest – was a partnering exercise. She had some “bobblehead” duets where one person was a sort of bobble head doll and the other was the driver of that doll. I worked with her male company member and it became very apparent very early on that he had a difficult time with me. I was not moving exactly as his previous partner had and I guess I didn’t totally get the concept of the duet.
All of you remember what happened the last time I tried to do contact improv right? I don’t have a very good track record.
We were the one pair who didn’t come up with a complete phrase to show, but we tried. I started to realize that it was the variety of movement I was lacking in improvising. I was focusing a little too much on keeping the bobblehead going and not on making the movement organic and interesting – as I would learn from watching the other groups. My partner constantly had to get me back from bouncing all over the place, which wore him out a bit I think. Oops.
Three hours of dancing finally done. The latter portion of the rehearsal we worked with a special guest on some Brechtian theatre exercises. The company was working with direct address to the audience and breaking the fourth wall, so Teresa had a coach come in to work with the dancers. This was fun and reminded me of clowning class at LAMDA my junior year of college.
I left the rehearsal having ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHATSOEVER how well I had done or if she just thought I was totally weird and sucked. This was a unique situation since we were being considered to replace a dancer who had already been working on the piece. She probably wanted the dancer who was closest to her with such a short time frame to pull everything together. At any rate, I felt like I had gotten to do a really interesting dance workshop that was completely different from any classes I normally do. Fun stuff.
I was one down and one to go. I left Brooklyn and hauled my butt up to Harlem!
But you’ll have to read about that in audition #19.