The Answer…is 42

So I hit a new high of hits on my dashboard yesterday (70!) and went to check today’s stats so far…and it was 42.

For those of you who have not read or seen the movie version of ‘A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy’ (which is totally worth seeing if only for the opening song) part of it contains a question, to which the answer is 42 (I don’t want to spoil it any more than I maybe just did, so I won’t pose the question).

I don’t know if you’d call it superstition, or if I’m just one of those people who looks for signs that the cosmos are in line so-to-speak, but I’m taking the coincidence of 42 readers thus far and ’42 being the ultimate answer’ as a  good indication that I’m on track. I actually felt a little robbed with the screenplays focus on the number 42, which since from a young age has been  my favorite number. I believe it was my audition number when I was eight in ‘The Nutcracker’ with Kansas City Ballet (then State Ballet of Missouri) at the Fox Theater in St. Louis. I was picked for the AB cast, meaning I performed every show as a soldier AND was a bon bon/polichinelle in the Land of the Sweets/Act 2 (where I had to wear a pink ‘girl’ costume because all of the blue ‘boy’ costumes were too big on me, had to emerge out from under a giant hoop skirt while avoiding a male dancer in drag as Madam Bon Bon stomping around on metal stilts. Did I mention we also had balloons tied to our wrists? How those shows went off without sending anyone to the emergency room, I don’t know).

I suppose I am thinking about my lucky number, my lucky leotard (which unfortunately broke in Jersey, another coincidence? I think Not!) and all good signs because after a bit of research, I found not one but TWO ballet/ dance companies in STL that are hiring male AND FEMALE dancers! What a stroke of luck!

The first is brand new, so I don’t know what to expect at all. The second has only been around for a year, but my good friend Caitlin Helton -who has amaaaaazing extension (she’s also the gorgeous blonde just right of the center of the headline picture with the turned out front leg which is from a piece I choreographed my senior year at Butler- dances for them,

she's the one in the middle

and as a dancer I have choreographed for, danced with, and sweated through a summer at Ballet Austin with, her inclusion gives it a nod of credibility.

Whether these are my dream companies or not remains to be seen, and researched further. I’ve learned a lot about how to research companies, mostly from huge mistakes made- but I figure if the auditions are right there in my town, it can’t kill me to just go and try (as opposed to the usual, having to drive/book a flight/hotel to get to an audition). So it’s a good time to pull out my trusty audition routines/ tips for anyone with auditions on the horizon (And I’m always open to hearing tips/opinions from others!)  These are the things that have helped me:

1. Appearance: This is so specific to the particular company and style. For ballet companies, you can’t go wrong with nice pink tights and a classic leo. Just looking well groomed is, well never offensive at least. You can never tell if a director is going to love it or HATE it if you wear a color, or something with a funky cut. I know a director who DESPISES the color red. For what it’s worth, for the more classic ballet companies I like a solid leotard in a flattering classic color like lilac (the color of my ex-lucky leo) or navy and simple cut. For a contemporary ballet company, I have a racerback zip-up black leotard that I prefer, and for jazzier or modern companies, I have a dark green halter that I wear with either black tights or black biker shorts. I think, no matter what, hair should always be clean and off the face. Even in a jazz audition, where you might wear your hair in ponytail, always keep it neat and secure.  I prefer as classical as possible for ballet companies, with no jewelry or nail polish except perhaps subtle earrings. I might play with something braided or twisted for more contemporary companies. Makeup should be minimal (especially in more modern auditions) or classic. Always have a clear complexion and try to make your eyes look bright. I have been complemented on exactly these attributes from directors as indicators that I am healthy and alert. Of course, I was raised with a strict attention to a ‘classic’ look, therefore I am used to pink tights, rhinestone earrings, and lots of hairspray. That’s me. That’s how I feel most like myself and most comfortable with the image I see in the mirror and what I present. Sometimes just being yourself is the easiest way to know if you would fit well with the company aesthetic or not, even if it means that you aren’t as likely to be considered for a spot simply because of how you do your hair/ what color leotard you wear.

2. Come with the Proper Materials- touch up the resume! For instance, when I audition for modern companies, I make sure to list all of the master classes I attended at Butler (Parsons Dance Company, Lines Ballet, Pilobolus are a few examples) because they show that I have been exposed to other styles and work beyond what one might expect at the more classical summer programs that I make sure to list (Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet, Boston Ballet, etc) when auditioning for classical companies. Sometimes I include musical theater work, or name drop when necessary. Also important is the picture. Hate to say it, because dance pictures or nice headshots can be hard and expensive to come by, but I have a suspicion that my dance picture really helped in my audition for Louisville. Something that looks professional (no printer paper!) that shows a nice line, body, and if possible, a little personality (eye contact and a nice expression are pretty rare I think) are good things to focus on.

the shot I used for Lville Ballet

3.  The power of positive thinking!- Sounds really cheesy, I know, but it has been my experience that thinking ‘I’m not doing well/not going to get it’ not only lessens your chances of being noticed in a positive way, but also makes the audition experience more scary/less fun (and it’s not fun anyways). I remember almost walking out of my audition for Lousivlle Ballet because I thought I was doing poorly and had no chance and then decided I had paid my money, so I might as well enjoy class from a new teacher and get what I could out of it. I was really wildly out of shape when I auditioned for my Jersey  Ballet, but I went in and decided to just do my best and try to show them my personality and lo and behold I got a call back- well…actually they got me mixed up with some other poor girl and asked HER to the callback a week later, and months later contacted me to say whoops, can you come to Jersey? Craaaaazy. Anyways, the point is not to get discouraged before during or after an audition. Sometimes it’s the ones where you don’t even think you’re doing well where you’ll find work, and ones that you think you NAIL they don’t even send a letter. (I had to beg for my rejection letter from Grand Rapids Ballet, which I thought I did pretty well in but was really only hoping for since that is where Red Hot Chili Pepppers lead singer Anthony Keidis hails from, and I thought he might return sometime and I could meet him. I also advocate not auditioning for companies because you think you’ll ‘bump’ into a celebrity crush. Especially one with a long-time womanizing past. And a son. Named Evely bear. Gross)

4. Mentally/ Physically Prepare- Hydrate the day before! You don’t want to drink toooo much water before the audition and feel like you’re sloshing around. Obviously getting a good night sleep for the TWO nights prior is important- progressive relaxation, and other tricks like scents (lavendar or vanilla) can help you feel soothed as you go to sleep. If the audition is say, at two, I like to eat breakfast somewhere around 9- I always feel better, lighter, and more clear headed when I go for something with healthy carbs and maybe just a touch of protein. oatmeal with a little dried fruit and nuts is a good option, or toast with peanut butter. I don’t advise going overboard on the coffee, if you, like me can get an upset stomache/extra sweaty from too much. A little caffeine is good but trust me, you don’t want to be the one farting through petite allegro. Not that I’ve EVER been that girl….A small apple about 45 minutes or so before the audition can give you an extra burst of energy if breakfast feels like a long time ago and won’t weight you down.If memory serves me right, there’s usually a pig-fest post audition anyways if you go with friends- I recall McFlurries with some of my Louisville girls, Wendy’s Frosties with Butler people, and once when I was 12- my dad drove me to an audition, we stopped in a Dunkin Doughnuts and for whatever reason they gave us a huge amount of free doughnut holes, which I think I ate about 30 of.  Good thing I didn’t have diabetes at that point. Can you say sugar coma?

Don’t overstretch the night prior. I’ve done that, and walked into an audition with pulled hamstrings.

I never like to read before an audition, but music is always good. I tend to like to find songs centered around the town housing the company, like ‘Walking in Memphis’ before my terrible Memphis Ballet audition. I will probably find some Saint Louis songs before these upcoming songs, let’s hope I can find something other than ‘Meet me In St. Louie, Louie!’ God knows I love Judy garland, but somehow lyrics like ‘We will dance the hoochie-coochie/ I will be your tootsie-wootsie’ don’t inspire be to bring out my ballet A-game. My go-to inspiration song is ‘le Cygne’ -(The Swan) from Saint-Saens ‘carnival of the Animals’ and ‘Dying Swan’.

I guess if a St. Louis play list fails me, I can always turn to my lucky number 42, and the Hitchhiker’s guide song as I prepare to get myself home and out of New York. Thanks everyone so much for reading and comments and texts and calls, it means the world to me to have such wonderful friends on my side…’So long and thanks for all the fish!’

3 thoughts on “The Answer…is 42

  1. Ha! I didn’t have time to get a nice print of my dance shot for my first Louisville audition and it was the only place where I got a compliment on it. There it was on some shitty paper and someone (who worked there) was saying, “that’s a really nice photo.”

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