If Only I Could Dance
Last week I auditioned for a musical and was delighted when I received a call-back from the director. The catch? The call-back was a dance call – and I can’t dance.
There are a few things that come to mind when I think of dancing. First, I see clips from Dirty Dancing, Footloose, Center Stage , and Step Up flash before my eyes. I am hit with images of lovely overhead airlifts, graceful pirouettes and overextended splits.
Then, I picture myself in ballet shoes, swirling across the floor in a dizzy haphazard manner, my toes flexed, legs bent and my spotting nonexistent. Not a pretty sight.
The director’s call-back e-mail specified two things:
1) If you are coming in for the intensive dance call: wear comfortable clothes (for movement) and bring water (you will be sweating…a lot).
2) If you feel this dance call will be beyond your comfort level, let us know if you would rather attend the less intensive dance call at 1 pm.
I considered this briefly. Giving up my spot in the advanced call-back would most likely sacrifice my chance of landing one of the lead roles.
I hit the reply button and quickly wrote, “Awesome, I’m in! See you tomorrow at the intensive call-back.”
I showed up with a smile on my face the next morning, confident that I could fake my way through the day. I joined the line-up of about 20 girls with hair buns, tight leggings and jazz shoes to await my fate.
“We’re just going to do a quick warm-up and then stretching before we begin,” the choreographer announced. “By the way, two people threw up at the call-backs last year. But don’t let that worry you.”
We quickly began our warm-up which consisted of burpies, sprints and an army crawl. Next was stretching which included backbends and splits. Then, we lined up again on the side of the room to dance across the floor.
“We will be observing your technique, your rhythm and your energy level,” the choreographer said. “We will not be going over the beginner steps for these moves.”
I glanced from side to side. “I can do this,” I told myself. “All I have to do is act as though I know what I’m doing. Nobody will know the difference.”
I soon found myself leaping and spinning across the floor, doing moves I had never performed, or even heard of before. Between double attitudes, coupés, chaînés, pas de bourrees, piqués, pirouettes and sidekicks, a sinking feeling began expanding in my chest like a balloon.
“What am I doing here?” I thought. “These people have been dancing since they were five. I can’t fool anyone.”
My confidence evaporated even further when we began the next component of the call-back: the choreographed dance. We were taught a high-level dance and then split into groups to perform it in front of the rest of the dancers.
By the end of the audition, I shrunk out of the room deflated and defeated. A few days later I received an e-mail with the casting results. “We really appreciate you sharing your time with us at auditions and call-backs,” the e-mail read. “Unfortunately, at this time we are unable to offer you a performing role in our production.”
I knew it. I just knew it.
Over the next few days, I had trouble shaking the feeling of disappointment that overcame me. “If only I could dance…” I kept saying to myself. “I can’t believe I thought I could actually make it. Why do I even bother setting my hopes high when they just get smashed?”
I felt emotionally flattened, and my uncertainties soon began bleeding into other areas of my life. “I’m never going to be amazing at anything, I will always be stuck at average,” I thought glumly. “Average people don’t stand out. I will never be the best at the sports I play, the hobbies I undertake and the work I do.”
The more I punched my beaten ego, the worse I felt. As time went by, I realized there wasn’t much good in indulging in this self-sabotage. I began looking for other activities to get involved in, but was very cautious about raising my hopes. “Maybe I can take dance lessons so I can make the next musical,” I told myself. “Maybe some of the a capella groups are still holding auditions. Maybe I’ll find a better opportunity to express myself artistically.”
I soon discovered a musical ensemble close to home that was holding an extra set of auditions that week.
Before long, I found myself carrying my squashed ego to this audition, hesitant about what sort of self-ridicule I would be exposing myself to a second time.
At the audition, I sang my heart out and put every ounce of my energy into my performance. “Thanks for coming,” the conductor said, when I had finished singing. “We’d like to offer you a spot on the ensemble. You can expect an e-mail of acceptance from us within the next few days.”
I left the room smiling.
I learned a few things from the audition process:
1) Push your limits. Seek out new opportunities. Give everything your best shot.
2) Don’t be afraid of failure. When you’re pushed to the ground, get up and try again.
3) Failure is a stepping stone to success. Don’t give up.
4) Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses. Be kind to yourself.
5) Everyone. Can. Dance.