Category Archives: Auditions

The Chameleon

We all start off as specialists in something.  I guess we have to in order to get our technique straight.  Some of us cross-over into other styles or become a chameleon.  This can be for various reasons – boredom, lack of work, or falling in love with a style after seeing it performed.   The chameleon’s adventure can be difficult mentally and physically.  When you are outstanding at one style, it makes you feel vulnerable to admit you don’t know something and put yourself out there for failure in taking up another style.

Even just taking a class in another style can be torturous to the ego. It can make me feel like such a beginner and that I’ve lost my edge.  Often, I walk away from a new class realizing how much I don’t know.  I use this to get inspired to push myself to be more than just passable in that style.  The more I can draw from different styles and techniques, the more employable I am.  As a dancer though, there is always so much I don’t know which is part of what makes a career as a dancer so amazing.  There is always room for improvement.  Once I believe I know it all, I will stop growing, stagnate, and the end of my career will be imminent.

My chameleon adventure started unexpectedly.  I had attended a show a few weeks before it happened.  It was amazing, hard hitting, and appealed to a side of me that I didn’t know could be appealed to.  I had goose bumps during so many parts of it.  I knew the majority of the company was ex-professional or semi-professional ballet in background.  But they were amazing in how they used the technique they knew and broke the lines in so many ways to create this show.  I walked away wanting to be part of it.

I don’t know if it was manifestation or just pure luck, but I was asked to come to one of their company classes through a connection we mutually had in our dance community.  I remember showing up, thinking this was just a dance class. I was sitting on the floor warming up and all these beauties started walking in, one at a time.  I instantly recognized them from the show and realized this wasn’t some side company of the show that I had been invited to take class with – this was the company I had just seen on stage a few weeks back.

My inner voice started telling me to run, that I didn’t belong.  It was nerve wracking to say the least, especially since I didn’t have a ballet background.  I worshipped ballerinas, but was never going to be one.  Four months later, after attending my first class with the company, I was offered a spot on tour with them.  The look on my face obviously gave me away as they asked me if I needed what they said repeated.  This was the first time I felt like I had made it in a new genre aside from my original specialty.  8 years later, I haven’t looked back and continue to learn new styles and obtain work as a cross-over dancer.

Becoming a chameleon takes work, guts, and putting my ego aside.  The long-term benefits of it in my confidence, technique, and stage presence make the growing pains of it worth it. I make a point of taking at least one class outside my main genres every week.  What class will you step out of your comfort zone into this week?  Let your adventure begin!

Oh, Auditions

I used to get nervous, clammy, crampy, shaky, and downright nearly talk myself out of attending auditions (even if I was already in the room). Auditions were intimidating – I felt I was a fraud for putting myself out there. I would see these beautiful dancers who were perfectly done up.  Their hair coiffed just right.  Their makeup immaculate without even a wayward eyelash.  They had fashionable and flashy dancewear that accentuated all the right parts.  They encompassed everything I thought the dancer should be.  They were perfect. I would  look around the room and think, I just don’t belong here.

Then, the choreographer, director, or casting agent would come out and introduce himself or herself and my heart would start to race.  My brain would race too, calling me out that I wasn’t ever going to make it – that I was just dancing on luck to this point and eventually I would be found out.  There were so many times I thought about quietly sneaking out the audition doors and disappearing from the dance world.  My inner voice was not doing me any favours and sometimes I couldn’t get it to shut up!

Being a “mature dancer” now, my brain still goes through the same tug of war.  I have proven myself in the dance community, but there is still that doubt that echoes and it is sometimes hard to ignore.  Now I am going up against the next generation and I see the same fears resounding in them as they stand around trying to appear like they don’t care if they get the part or not.  They are just as worried about being imperfect and failing, but want to put up a wall so no one knows what thoughts are really rattling around in their head.  We all have the thoughts whether we admit.

The thing I’ve realized is that most choreographers and directors don’t want the perfect dancer.  A clone of everyone else is not going to make their production amazing, striking, or make the audience come away with a unique experience.  Many choreographers now want people who are different. Don’t get me wrong, the fundamentals still need to be present –  good technique, dancer’s body, and stage presence.  However, having your own flavour and nuance is what will get you that part. Don’t be afraid to be yourself in the audition.  That’s what will draw the choreographer’s attention above the 120 other beauties in the room.

Will it Stay a Man’s World?

As so many women are coming into their power all over the world, I wonder how this will affect the dance world? WIll males be seeking out these strong and powerful female dancers or will they prefer to seek out the more submissive females that will still allow them to rule in the partner world?

As a female dancer, I know I’m at a disadvantage to finding my perfect partner (compared to a male) because of how abundant my gender is in the dance world.  A strong male dancer gets the pick of the crop – it’s simply been a matter of supply and demand.  So what can we do as females to set ourselves apart when trying to find a male partner? Be better, more attractive, more technical?

I am a powerful person and I know what I want. I also know there is still a game to be played to attract and keep that ideal dance partner.  I am currently in the game to find my perfect partner.  Let’s see how it all plays out.  Will I have to withhold some of my strengths to attract that partner so as to not overpower him or do I use that strength to create synergy that will be beyond what that partner could have with anyone else? I believe that drive for synergy that is the unique factor I bring to the table.