So the audition was a bit mixed (kept reminding myself that almost nobody else had 100% of any individual phrase, either), but overall a complete blast — especially loved the partnering improv.
Also, I think my legs are going to fall off.
The weirdest feeling in the world might be the specific limbo between the time when the AD calls to offer you the contract—a really good one—and the moment when you actually sign it, when some part of you keeps feeling like, But what if it’s all a dream, or a mistake, or, or, or—
I’m still wading carefully into these waters; still got one foot in the land of “To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Keep Silent.” But it’s very hard to keep the lid on—even partway on—when you just want to jump up and down and sing.
First, in October, I’ll be trekking out to California to perform the role of Romeo in Leigh Putting Ballet Company’s signature production, Sweet Sorrow: A Zombie Ballet
When Leigh first asked if I’d be willing to come out for this role, I was ecstatic, obviously. I mean, it’s not every day one gets offered a leading role, and I’ll finally get to meet a lot of the dancers I’ve worked with remotely.
It’s a particular honor because this is the 5th anniversary production of this show, after which it’ll be taking a hiatus for a couple of years. No pressure, right? ^-^’
Next, I’m starting a new teaching job soon, just started training at a new cirque studio, and I’ve got an audition next Wednesday for a company that I’m excited about potentially joining. I dropped in on their open company class this week, and the company dancers asked if I was planning on auditioning and told me I should definitely audition, which was awesome.
That’s kind of a huge step from my early days in the company at LexBallet, when I felt like nobody, including me, was sure I should really be there.
(I actually had no idea there were auditions coming up, so I’m doubly glad they mentioned it! Part of my brain is still stuck in the pre-pandemic ballet world norm of auditions taking place in late winter/early spring.)
If you ever have the chance to visit a company and take company class before you decide whether or not to audition, I highly recommend it.
One of the reasons I didn’t audition before relocating was simply that I wanted to get a feel for different companies first. That isn’t always possible—a lot of companies don’t do the “open company class” thing, though some will invite you to take company class if you’re a member of another company and you message ahead about classes in their school—but it seems like the ideal approach whenever possible.
As an autistic dancer, it’s probably even more important. It really helps to know in advance if the vibe is going to work and whether the artistic staff communicate in ways that work for your brain.
I was extra lucky in this case, because I got to take class two days in a row with the founder and AD of the company. It was definitely a little intimidating, because this is a well-reputed company I knew of when I was growing up (I mean, not one that’s a household name like ABT or anything—that’s never been a goal for me). It turns out, though, that the founder of the company seems like a lovely person; very grounded, down-to-earth, and firm-but-kind in a way that works really well when wrangling dancers.
I’m very much looking forward to the audition, which seems like a bit of a bizarre thing to say, but here we are.
It helps that it’s in the same time slot as a class I was planning to take anyway—my brain is just looking at it as a class or a workshop, which is exactly how everyone advises dancers to see auditions in the first place.
It’s impossible, of course, to know if I’ll make the cut—but it’s worth going regardless.
I’m reminded once again of the experience of learning how to track-stand on a geared bike: you begin knowing you don’t know how and failing often, then somewhere along the way you begin to figure it out. Later, at some point you sort of “come to” mid-trackstand and go, “I’m doing it!” (and immediately startle yourself into having to put a foot down).
Later still, you look back and realize it’s been a while since you really thought about it consciously. You might not be a past master at the track-stand, and you might not be breaking any records, but it’s a thing that’s there in your physical repertoire of cycling skills.
More and more often, this is how I feel about my career in dance. I’m still immensely grateful for the circumstances that brought me here, but I feel less and less often like I don’t really belong and like I hope nobody will notice that I’m desperately faking my way through absolutely everything.
I suppose that, like most things, if you fake it long enough while making an effort to actually learn, sooner or later you’re no longer faking it at all.
Anyway, that’s it for now, more or less. In the interest of my general policy of not jinxing things by saying too much, I’m keeping further audition details under wraps for now (probably until I know how the audition turns out).
I keep saying I’ll try to post more often and then being discombobulated by life, but I’ll say it again anyway, now that the relocation process is largely behind us.
Either way, until then, tuck and roll, my friends!
Don’t worry, as far as I know “temps de fugue” isn’t a real ballet step. It’s just a half-baked play on “tempus fugit.”
Yesterday, at a show in which I probably knew 60% of the dancers and 90% of the choreographers, I ran into Killer B in the audience.
This season, Killer B made the leap back into life as a company dancer. We were talking about our respective seasons, and she said something like, “Can you believe it’s almost over? It went by so fast!”
And it hit me (again, because it had already hit me, but harder, because it wasn’t just me thinking idly about it) that all at once I’m basically a week from the end of my first full season in Actual Ballet Company.
The past year has been one of vast, wild changes.
In a way, it’s been like a graduation.
BW matriculated to Nashville Ballet. BG matriculated to a directorship at a youth ballet. Killer B matriculated back into the folds of Louisville Ballet, where she has, predictably, been killing it. K has jetted off to California. I fumbled my way into an Apprenticeship at Actual Ballet Company, which I still refuse to name in this blog for some reason even though I’m forever posting links to our shows ^-^’
My friends from Pilobolus’ intensive, meanwhile, are literally all over the map. Several have toured the globe with Pilobolus. One is out there dancing with Momix. Two created an amazing project of their own that’s taken off and is selling like, well, muffins (that’s kind of an in-joke; I’ll try to post a link at some point). Some have graduated from undergrad dance programs. Others have matriculated into graduate dance programs.
Friends that I’ve worked with locally outside the ballet, too, have begun building bigger, better things: like the show that I attended yesterday, where I ran into Killer B and we agreed about how much we miss everyone and also about how happy we are for everyone. Like the show that I saw on Valentine’s Day, where my friend Dot (a total sister-from-another-mister, if every I met one) and a nascent company in Frankfort knocked my socks off (I auditioned for their summer show on Saturday, and it was both fun and awesome; more on that in a few).
Improbably, perhaps even implausibly, we’re all out here working our booties off (both literally and metaphorically) and actually doing it. Some of us are doing it with greater financial rewards than others, but we’re all out here moving and shaking and making dance happen with a dedication that even the Puritans would’ve had to appreciate.
And it’s so very, very weird to be part of that: but also so very, very good.
For me, also, this season has been all over the map.
There have been some really, really hard things. I struggled socially, which I should’ve expected but didn’t. I also struggled technically, at times, which I kind of expected but not necessarily in the right areas. I managed to stick it out anyway, and because of that I’ve learned an enormous, enormous amount, and not just in terms of technique.
I feel like things are beginning to gel, now. My balances are so much better, most of the time, than they were back in September (they’re not so great when I have a sinus infection that messes with my inner ear, but that’s to be expected). I know how to use my body in ways that I didn’t before. When I drop in on classes at home, I pick up the choreography so much faster than I used to.
Épaulement—never my greatest strength—is becoming more thoroughly integrated into my technique. My arms mostly know what to do with themselves, though not always, in ways they didn’t before. My hands do not constantly insist that the only ballet is Don Quixote.
At Saturday’s audition, I felt comfortable with my strengths and my weaknesses. The company in question is deeply eclectic, which is really cool, so we all tried a bit of everything: jazz, contemporary, ballet, and tap.
I was completely fine with the fact that I have basically no idea what I’m doing where tap is concerned; I muddled through anyway, following as best I could with very little idea as to what I was doing, and enjoyed the heck out of it. As I prepared to run the tap combo, I said to K (the resident tap maven—really, she’s amazing), “I’m just going to desperately follow along and hope everything works out,” and she replied, “That’s fine! I’ll just borrow your extensions for the ballet parts!”
What I enjoyed most, though, where the moments when A, who gave us our barre at the beginning of the audition, would say, “…And let go of the barre,” and I was generally able to just let go of the barre and balance (except for the attitude balance on the right side, when I put my foot into a little warbly spot in the floor and it took me a bit longer to set up as a result).
I enjoyed that, of course, because static balances have long been a white whale for me, and here I was at an audition just, like, balancing.
To make up for it, of course, I blanked on the beginning of the ballet combination when it came time to run it … but so did basically everybody else for some reason. Now that it’s over, I will never, ever forget the beginning of that combination ^-^’
When I drop in on classes at LBS, where I rebooted my ballet life five years ago, I’ve begun to be able to see how far I’ve come (I never, of course, lose sight of how far I have left to go … those goalposts just keep receding).
That’s a good feeling: like, yes, time continues to fly, but in one sense I’m flying with it for once in my life. I’m making progress in something that means a great deal to me.
Five years ago, I don’t think I could have begun to imagine the life I’m living now. It makes me wonder where I’ll be in another five years, and another.
I’m in no hurry, don’t get me wrong: but I think it’ll be something to see.
I … think? … I’m done with auditions for the rest of the month, at this point.
Yesterday’s was actually rather a soaring success, except for my usual habit of forgetting some bit of the modern combination and faking my way through that part so I could get to the next bit, then remembering it right after … but there are two thoughts that cheer me up.
First, nobody had the combo down cold. We all missed bits and pieces.
Second, that’s one of the skills they’re looking for at dance auditions. What happens when you fall off the script (because it happens even to top-tier dancers)? Do you freeze like a deer in the headlights, or do you roll on just as if you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to? (Bonus points if you can fake your way through well enough to make it look like everyone else was wrong. I don’t think I accomplished that, yesterday, but I didn’t freeze, either.)
The dance improv bit was, of course, a blast, because I love improv.
The trapeze bit went pretty well despite the fact that apparently whatever demiurge manages music for trapeze auditions believes it’s great fun to mess with mine. I recovered from that and had to improvise a fair bit, but it turned out rather well. And, of course, I didn’t fall off the trapeze this time.
Once again, at this audition, they’re not necessarily looking for a polished cirque-style act: they’re looking for expression, musicality, and the ability to command the audience’s attention (and also sound technical elements, obviously). The piece that I showed is one I’m slowly working on set to the Indigo Girls’ “Kid Fears,” and it’s intentionally struggly, so it probably didn’t really hurt anything that I was, in fact, wrestling with my own choreography (much of which I didn’t apparently remember).
The acting part was flat-out awesome, and reminded me how much I actually really like acting, my anxiety about struggling to memorize scripts notwithstanding. Maybe what I really like is cold reading. Who knows? Anyway. I really liked the part they handed me, and ran with it.
Today’s audition was also lovely. Almost nobody showed up, so it was really just three of us mostly doing some improv stuff. I already know that our AD likes the way I improvise, so that was just pure fun. I showed the bits of my piece that I could, given my lack of a partner, and described the idea as a whole. Both our AD and the guy from U of L whose group we’re collaborating with liked it, so it looks like it’s a green light there.
My next audition is a couple of weeks away, and I’m happy to have a bit of a breather. The stretch from the past couple of gigs through now has been pretty intense.
Not that I’m complaining. The other night I was kvetching about some company-related annoyance and suddenly though something like, “Oh, hey. I’m complaining about work because that’s what we do. If it wasn’t a pain in the *** sometimes, it wouldn’t be work.”
And that actually felt, in its own way, rather lovely: like, this is my work, and it’s work that I love. And I think I’m becoming rather good at it. Maybe not world-beatingly good or anything but, you know, serviceable. Which has, to be honest, always been the goal. As a ballet boy I’m smallish and muscly and I bounce like a rubber ball, which puts me squarely in the demi-character camp, and I’m fine with that. Not everyone always has to be the prince (and, honestly, there are a lot of ballets in which the prince never gets to do anything cool outside of the pas de deux). As a circus artist, I’m reliable, adaptable, and versatile: not a specialist, but a generalist, and the kind of generalist who can pinch-hit almost anywhere.
I feel like that’s a good thing to be. I’m not here for glory: I’m here because I love to move; because I can’t not move.
And if sometimes that means I’m stressed out and hounded from pillar to post … well, that’s part of it. That and Auditioning for Poverty are pretty much hallmarks life as a dancer, or indeed as any kind of performing artist, or indeed possibly as any kind of artist.
You do the Work because the Work is what moves you … sometimes more literally than other times.
Today was a long day: class at 10:30 (with a smidgen of rehearsal afterwards); teaching at 1 PM; suspended meditation at 2; callback at 3:30 (ended a little past 6:30).
Class was … erm. Like, barre was great? And the rest of it was … yeaaah. Erm. I had issues. On the other hand, I did manage one not-very-good triple, and except for the points at which I actually screwed up, things looked okay.
All three members of my Ballet Girl Posse were in class, and two of them stayed after, so we ran through our choreography … and I actually learned all their names. YAY! So at least I’ve accomplished something today. BG was still around, so he ran us through our bit a couple of times, and we decided that we like fourth arabesque better for my bit of the first partnering piece (a series of supported fouettés).
I begged off the last ten minutes of the modern dance portion of the apprentice-teaching class because my legs were a bit angry at me and I was going to need them for the audition. I used the time to foam-roll the crap out of them.
During meditation, I fell asleep. Given that I am the world’s worst napper (seriously, I can normally only nap when I’ve been awake for at least 48 hours straight), that’s saying something. Evidently, I was pretty tired.
The callback turned out to be the highlight of the day. It was more like a dance-and-theater workshop than an audition—we did some partnering stuff, then learned a dance and performed it in groups, then played theater games and ran some sides. Honestly, it was a hell of a lot of fun with a great group of people (both judges and fellow auditionees), and if every audition was that much fun, I’d audition for everything.
It turns out that I know the guy who’s directing the production. I met him at a party (which happened to be at his house) and felt instantly very, very comfortable with him, which speaks very highly of him. Also: proof that my world is incredibly tiny, heh.
We’ll hear back in a week or so about roles and such. Fortunately, I have too much going on to have much time to chew my nails about it, though I don’t have class with BW on Thursday this week.
Regardless, BW gave me homework—jumping rope to improve my cardio as well as the usual Turns Homework and … erm. I’m supposed to be doing something else, too, I think? Fehhhhcccckkkk. I can’t remember. It’s in my notes somewhere.
Anyway. I will miss BW’s class this week, but I suspect my body will welcome the extra rest. The fitness is returning, but my body hates me so much right now.
Before tonight, I had managed never to really fall off the trapeze before. I’ve dumped myself off handstand-style once, but that doesn’t really count.
Tonight, I managed to take a legit fall—during my audition.
In retrospect, I made the wrong call abotu my music: instead of just going for the piece I’d intended, “La Mer,” which was a little too long, and letting them cut it off, I opted for “Beyond the Sea” (Bobby Darin’s version).
It turns out that the tempo of Darin’s “Beyond the Sea” is actually quite a bit faster than the recording I have of “La Mer.” I was tired and attempting to adapt, and somewhere along the line my brain decided halfway into an egg-to-pike inversion that I was actually doing the arabesque roll to sit that comes at the end.
Since one wraps one’s arms for the inversion in question, it’s not possible to do the roll in question without breaking said arms. I’m more afraid of breaking bones than of falling, so I basically just let go.
Apparently it was a pretty spectacular fall—and a technically-correct one 🙂 I tucked and rolled, and as a result the only parts of me that hurt are my forearms, which is what happens when you wrap your arms and then do crazy shizzle.
I popped back up and was ready to hop back on the trap before they even had a chance to cut the music (though they did, in order to make sure I was okay). I sorted my way through the rest of the trap routine, though I didn’t do the arabesque roll at the end; my arms weren’t digging that.
Ironically, the rest of the audition went pretty well, and apparently my trapeze improv looked pretty great (the fall was evidently quite exciting as well :D).
So, that’s my life for you. When I do finally manage to fall off the trap, it’s in the middle of an audition.
At least I didn’t fall down during the dance portion? I did fall down during the acting part, but that was on purpose.
Oh, also, ballet was good today, petit allegro was far less bad than usual, and we discussed rehearsals for showcase, etc.
We also had a Physical Theater workshop, and afterwards I was chatting with the teacher, and she said something like, “So, you dance ballet?”
And I said something like, “Yeah, a little modern, but ballet is really my first language and my first love.”
Then she said, “I could tell—the legs!”
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to Eat All The Food.
So the audition was a bit mixed (kept reminding myself that almost nobody else had 100% of any individual phrase, either), but overall a complete blast — especially loved the partnering improv.
Also, I think my legs are going to fall off.
So I’m filling out an audition registration packet for a local company that I know and respect, the AD of which I know and respect.
This is way more intimidating than filling out a registration for some audition for a company where I don’t know anyone personally; where nobody’s going to call me and go, “Asher, what the heck are you thinking? You are definitely not ready for this.”
Um, not that that’s going to happen here, either.
But that’s where the whole Impostor Syndrome thing takes me, apparently, in this particular circumstance.
Since my cough was still keeping me up all night, I went to the doc-in-the-box on Monday afternoon. She listened to my lungs and said, “Ah-hah!”
It turns out I’ve got acute bacterial bronchitis. I’ve been running around assuming that this was some kind of sinus-drainage-induced-annoying-cough-thing that would clear up on its own. So … um, oops?
I was initially rather annoyed that I’d developed bronchitis, but then I realized it’s actually been quite a while (by my standards) since I’ve had it, or at least since I’ve had a case that warranted medical intervention. I feel like I still get sick more easily than most people, but my overall health is improving. I spend more time being reasonably well than I used to. Thanks, ballet!
So now I’m on an antibiotic and a prescription cough syrup. That should, I hope, get this shifted, though at this particular moment I’m still pretty uncomfortable.
I was able to sleep four about four hours tonight before the prescribed cough syrup wore off and I started coughing again, so I’ve taken my second dose for the night.
Since the cough has been at its worst when I’m lying down (convenient, right?), I decided to get up and give the medicine time to work its magic so Denis can sleep. He deserves a good night’s sleep for many reasons, not least because he’s been so great about looking after me while I’ve been useless and miserable.
The downside to the timing of this whole thing is that I’ve been invited to audition for a dance performance, and I’m iffy about whether or not I’ll be entirely back on my feet by the first weekend in October. (Or, rather, whether I’ll both be back on my feet and adequately rehearsed.)
The upside is that if I make it through the audition (that sounds so dire: there probably won’t be a shark pit waiting for those whose works don’t quite cut it), the performance isn’t until February, so I’ll have plenty of time to arrange my waterfowls in a linear array.
Part of me says that I’m just being a big ol’ chicken (duck! :V). There’s some merit to that argument. I talk a good game, but my confidence about my ability as a performer and choreographer is, shall we say, still embryonic — you know, as yet unhatched.
Still, I must not let it ruffle my feathers.
…Okay, I’ll stop with the, ahem, poultry attempts at humor.
At any rate, I’ve bitten the bullet and signed up for an audition slot. After all my whinging about the challenge of finding performance opportunities, I can’t very well pass one up when it’s handed directly to me!
I have a piece in mind, though it’s a little on the short side (~4 mins; audition pieces need to be between 5 and 12 mins long). I’ll have to see if I can expand it a bit. If not, I may have to whip up something fresh — I do have some ideas, though, so that should be doable. I hope.
Being who I am, I feel a great deal of anxiety about the audition and essentially none about the concept of performing before (GASP!) an actual audience comprised of people who have actually paid actual money to actually sit down and watch. In short, I figure if the folks putting this performance together think I’m good enough, then I probably am*.
Here’s hoping I’ll be back in class this week. I’m going to need it. It seems unlikely that I’ll be up for Brienne’s class on Wednesday, but I might be able to handle Margie’s class. I’m optimistic about Friday, at any rate.
In other news, it looks like my primary employment this year will be with Porchlight Express, refitting the website and getting the other communications stuff sorted. That will take up a significant portion of my free time, so it’s useful to know that I probably won’t also need to pick up another part-time job.
I also still need to sign up for the GRE (OMG, WTF, BBQ) and submit my grad school applications. Oh, and take the driver’s exam at some point, hopefully before the 4th, in case Denis doesn’t feel like driving to Cincy for the audition. (But, seriously, there’s an IKEA there — why wouldn’t he want to go to Cincy?)
On my life-anxieties scale, by the way, this audition thing is right at the top. I feel pretty confident about getting accepted into one or more DMT programs and quite confident indeed about being able to really polish the PLX website now that I have time. That really rather puts things in perspective for me!
Anyway, I’ve stopped coughing up furballs for now, so I shall try to go back to bed.
Wish me luck?