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!
The Best Five Words Any Dancer Can Hear
…Besides, of course, “You’re hired, here’s your contract.”
Modern went well today. It was just me, and we worked a lot on release and … hm, what I’ll call the redistribution of tension.
My ability as concerns modern in general and release technique in particular varies drastically depending on various things.
I am, after all, Central Casting Troubled Ballet Boy, which means I am also Uptight Ballet Boy.
When I haven’t been doing modern class regularly in a while, I have to completely re-learn how to relax and release and let my head have weight and stuff like that. My first few classes usually leave me convinced that I dance like a poorly-maintained robot. It takes a little while to learn to feel my body again.
Once I figure all that out, though, things start to get considerably better.
Today was one of those revelatory classes. Parts of my body remembered how to modern, and I continued working on applying the general lessons I’m working on right now.
Anyway, at the end of class, LT said The Five Greatest Words to me:
You’re such a hard worker.
If there’s one thing dancers seem universally to respect, it’s a solid work ethic.
It makes sense: dance is work.
We go to class and we work. We go to rehearsal and we work. We get out there on stage and we work. We stand in our kitchens working on our balances and our turns. Even if our sleep, we dream about dancing, and our brains work overtime.
As dancers, everything we do is work, and no matter how talented you are, your talent will get you nowhere if you don’t show up and put in the work.
So when someone tells me I’m a hard worker, it means a lot to me—especially since, as a kid, I was The Talented One That Doesn’t Realize He Has To Work, and part of me feels like the rest of my life is basically a chance to atone for being that jerk.
In other news, I’m starting to “get” the choreography for the showcase piece. LT explained the concept today, and that actually really helped—a light went on in my mind. I’d been thinking of it as sort of a jungle cat kind of feeling, but that wasn’t working. In fact, it’s more like searching for something in a swirling fog.
Thus far, this has been a good week for me, dance-wise, except for the part where I hit myself in the face with a girl (yeah, that happened) but I didn’t drop her, so it’s all good?
Besides, she’s solid Cirque stock and not the kind of person to be phased by such things. We were doing that one lift that literally nobody I know can think of what it’s called right now where you scoop your partner up as if in a basket and toss her (or him) up onto one shoulder in a front balance. Every time everyone tries to think of what the feck it’s called, we just wind up going, “Well, it’s not fish dive…”
Essentially, it’s this:
…Only, in this instance, with fewer tutus and sleevy things and more grunting and sweat.
I didn’t give it enough oomph on the first go, so the second time I way overdid it and basically flipped my partner into my own face instead of rolling her up to my shoulder. Heh.
On the upside, our partner acro instructor said, “On the upside, that means you can definitely do this!”
Lastly, in other, other news, there’s a four-day Easter ballet intensive (for adults) at Holistic Ballet in London. I’ll add it to my 2017 intensives list. It’s all about La Bayadere, and it looks like there’s two levels; the beginner group will be learning the entrance from “the Kingdom of the Shades,” and the other group will be learning Gamzatti’s Act II variation.
It doesn’t look like there’s a variation planned for guys (though I wouldn’t object to learning either of the above, to be honest).
Honestly, I think the entrance from “Kingdom of the Shades” is one of the best possible pieces of choreography to learn as a beginner, since it can be learned and executed well and then continually refined. The ladies at Lexington Ballet’s intensive did it last year, and it was so lovely, even without the ramps.
Anyway, I must now run away and go dig through AS’s costume closet, then go collect BB for class tonight.