somewhere over the st. louis arch

I am surprised and delighted to inform you all that I am employed!

I say surprised because I do not think I did that well in the audition. I for whatever reason couldn’t fall asleep the night before, and only got three hours of rest. I woke up feeling like my head was stuck in a fishbowl. I made my way out to the company home,- in a residential area so it’s very quiet with large studios, nice floors, and tons of natural light from floor-to-ceiling windows plus skylights. Amazingly, I couldn’t find a single ‘funhouse’ mirror either- usually there’s one mirror in any given studio that for whatever reason, makes you look like a ten-foot tall model, and right next to it, one that makes you look like an obese midget in a leotard.I walked in half an hour early, made friendly chit-chat with the Artistic director, and handed in my pictures and resume (I heard him say, ‘oh! nice picture!’ -I used the same one that I showed in my ’42’ post about audition tips. It’s sort of my go-to for ballet companies)

This was the third audition this company held this summer (they are pretty new, this is their second season). Usually by the middle of August, companies are no longer holding auditions and many have even begun their season. I don’t know if this was largely the contributing factor, but there was only ONE OTHER GIRL THERE! aghh! So it was just me, this other girl, and the director. How very intimate. And intimidating!

It is no fun to be stared at, scrutinized, especially from a profile view (ballet is classically meant to be presented towards an audience, so instead being looked at from the side shows every flaw that might exist in your technique). You always expect to be judged in an audition, but to have constant pressure without  a lot of other dancers for the critics to observe is a nerve-wracking ordeal! There was no time to scope out the competition or put the game face down. I tend to treat every second of an audition as a performance, not just a display of my technique for two reasons: one, my strength lies in my performance quality, not in perfect turn-out and two, I think it shows personality, and a more professional image than that of a student. Plus it makes it more fun to imagine myself on a stage in a costume rather than focus on the fact that my hamstring is on fire and my butt is twitching as I attempt to balance.

I felt o.k. about the barre, but then came the pointe shoes for center. I simply am horribly out of practice and my ankles have lost considerable strength. There is also a kind of determination and attack needed to decide that you will take the risk of slipping, hurting yourself, falling in pointe work that is more pronounced than flat shoes. For whatever reason, those three extra inches from the ball of your foot to the tip of your toes seems like a much scarier place to be and a much longer way to fall. I think the most frustrating thing for me was that even when I swallowed fear and really went for turns, balances, steps- I felt like it was harder to move quickly, to hold myself up on the shoe. My body has lost the muscle memory and strength for pointe. I felt like a big flailing, stumbling mess- which was extra fun since every combination was performed with only one other girl or as solo going across the floor. There wasn’t the typical rest time in auditions while other groups dance since there was only one group, and I am decidedly more weak so MORE dancing, performing each combination multiple times, wasn’t exactly a dream come true.

I smiled through the whole audition, had a nice conversation with the director once the torture was over, and waited to get in my car to bawl my eyes out. I was completely horrified with myself- it is soooo frustrating to know that you are capable of so much better. I came home, took a shower and a nap, and told my family that there was no way I was going to get a job. A few hours later I checked my email and there it was..congratulations, here’s your contract.

I am so thrilled, I get to dance and train 5 hours or more a day 5 days or more a week! For free! no wait, I’m the one getting paid! I start a week from today- which is good because my calf muscles are terribly sore from the pointe shoes yesterday, and I want a few days to take more classes before the official season starts. I find it amazing that less than a month ago, I decided to leave NY without knowing that I would have even the opportunity to audition for companies- and out of the 2 that I auditioned for, I got a job with one a scholarship for class with the other. That’s a pretty amazing ratio of audition to favorable result especially considering I haven’t been in training for the past seven or eight months,  so I am feeling really really lucky and more sure than ever that this is right for me.

I did my stupid ritual of drawing on of the GRE vocab words before my audition- and the word was ‘truculent’- eager to fight.  While this is probably an appropriate word to describe my rather-combative personality-

how DARE you get the dates of the book release wrong!!!

I got really mad at my brother when he said my cat looked fatter and when my Mom said something about how the first Harry POtter movie came out before the 3rd or 4th book was written I shrieked, ‘that is absolutely NOT CORRECT!’ at her- yeah, not my finest moment- I’m going to apply my truculence in getting my technique back- it’s going to be a fight, and one that I’m ready for.

3 thoughts on “somewhere over the st. louis arch

  1. I want to know where this fabulous studio with the natural light is! Just because I’m nosy 😀 I can’t say it enough…CONGRATS! I am really proud of you and your stick-to-it-iveness (MUWA)!

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