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Auditions- Thoughts from the Dance Bag of a Former Auditionee


 Glances. Intimidation. Anxiety.

I had just arrived for one of my several company auditions in January of 2020.


The audition was held at the School of American Ballet studios, which is a pretty common spot for ballet dancers spending their new year auditioning for companies across the nation.


Dancers were filling the ever busy hallways, either attending classes as SAB students or preparing to enter one of the floors rented by companies.


 

A younger dancer caught my eye and I smiled.


She smiled back which prompted me to introduce myself.


This was her first time auditioning for the company, as part of their trainee program and summer intensive. I had been to this particular audition several times before, having attended the summer intensive several years and at one point been offered and then rejected from their traineeship- but that's a different story for another time.


We weren't allowed to go into the audition area for registration yet so we were lingering in a narrow hallway with a few chairs overlooking the city.


I could tell she was nervous and, as per usual, no one around us was smiling. We were both met with dagger glares as everyone eyed up the "competition."


I talked about my past positive experiences with this particular company, and I could notice a change as we talked- her nervousness transformed into excitement for the possibility of her dance journey taking her to the same studios I had started my pre-professional journey in years before.


I failed to realize at the time, but this would become one of the most fulfilling moments in my life as I began to realize how helping other dancers truly touched me.


Little did this young dancer know that she would be helping me just as much as my "kindness" comforted her in preparation for her audition.


helping other dancers truly touched me.

I always tried to make a friend. 
a photo of me warming up before a masterclass in 2015


Whenever I went to an audition, a summer intensive, a masterclass, or a new studio I always tried to make a friend. Many of them I am fortunate to be in contact with today.


While most of these individuals and myself have only met once (at these short-term experiences) I could immediately tell they were genuine people & that them being there was solely for their pure love of dance.


 


There's something to be spoken for regarding dancer culture-with it being so easy to let it consume you.


There have been times I found myself starting to get "sucked in."

It's not uncommon for there to be dancers with a competitive edge in the room. While I always wanted to be my best and at times "perfect" I ultimately, at the end of the day, was competing with myself (and myself alone).


When my peers would be upset that they didn't get a certain role (that perhaps I did) I would feel tremendous guilt. I would have a difficult time celebrating what should have been an exciting moment for me, knowing that it was impacting their dance experience in a negative way.


In many instances, other dancers don't act or feel the same way. From what I've observed over my years as a student, a professional, and now teacher in ballet, there are a large percentage of dancers that posses this trait and allow it to determine how they will treat the dancers around them.


This isn't to say they aren't good-hearted people....


It's just that when it comes to the competitiveness of the art form, they are perhaps more willing to abandon their kindness- something I am not comfortable without.


there are a large percentage of dancers that posses this trait and allow it to determine how they will treat the dancers around them.

I would be a hypocrite if I were to say there were not times I was disappointed for not being casted in a role, but I find so much joy in watching the people I consider my friends- fellow dancers- thrive on stage.


My hope as a dance educator is to nurture the qualities that create beautiful artistry without sacrificing relationships with other dancers and ultimately their values as a person.


While I am no longer pursuing a career in ballet that would require me to audition again, I am still very much involved in the world of dance- as my students begin their own auditioning journeys.


I feel it is my responsibility to always inspire kindness in the studio:


among one another and with themselves (which obviously ties into my current personal battles in recovery from my eating disorder).


 

Back to my story from earlier, this would be my final large scale or "cattle-call" audition before the world stopped in March of 2020.


I chose to share this highlight of my last audition season because I truly believe it was a life defining moment for me.


A sort of cultivation-

of who I was up until that point as a dancer and as someone who will -hopefully- gracefully guide future dancers to come.






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