I’ve been pretty proud of all the things I’ve managed to do since returning to ballet, especially since I never thought most of it was possible…
There was my brief teaching stint (I still miss that).
And there was the whole getting back on pointe thing (part accomplishment, part foolishness!).
I always wanted to perform in a full-length ballet and I’ve got, what, 7 of those under my belt now?
I’ve done some “summer intensives” (okay, not at the same level as teenagers, but still!).
There aren’t too many ballet dreams left unfulfilled at this point.
Okay, who among us balletophiles hasn’t attended a professional production and thought, gee, how cool would it be to be on stage with them?
Of course since my ballet skillz are firmly amateur despite years of work I know that I’m not going to be getting a contract to dance with a professional company, but…
You do know that some of those story ballets need human scenery, right? The non-dancing villagers or guards or whatever who occupy space and fill out the story… known in the ballet (and opera, too, I think) world as “supernumeraries” or (since that’s such a mouthful) just “supers.” They’re what the extras are to film.
Well, it just so happens that my favorite local big name ballet company put out a casting call last month for their fall production. They were looking for “fit” dancers who would be comfortable appearing on stage in midriff-baring tops. Well… I’ve done that before, albeit on a much smaller stage, so why the heck not give it a go?
So I auditioned!
The only auditions I’ve ever done were for the studio shows, which is a whole other kettle of fish. Nerve-wracking, but you know what to expect and the people doing the casting know what you’re capable of even if you flub whatever it is they’ve asked of you. But this audition involves going to a place with a bunch of people you don’t know and being judged solely on whatever you do in that studio at that time… and with no inkling beforehand of what they’re even going to want you to do.
On the plus side, if you screw up, you get to return to anonymity and you haven’t humiliated yourself in front of all your friends.
So, the audition. We were told to wear comfortable yet form-fitting workout/yoga type clothes. Thus, true to form, I was out the night before looking for some sort of attractive workout attire since ballet is the only exercise I attempt to look presentable for, therefore I have cute leotards in spades, but anything else workout-geared is generally ratty, faded and will only serve to make me look like Queen of the Frumps. But, of course, one can’t look as though she’s trying too hard to look cute. Ugh, this auditioning is hard work and I haven’t even started yet!
The next day after work I go over to the company’s headquarters, change, and head upstairs to the big fancy studio where all the Important Things Happen to check in with the stage manager lady who wrangles the supers. She checks off my name, has me find my name tag in the pile, and gives me a form to fill out and take to the costume fitter people.
Next I head over to the fitters and give them my form. They measure me in 20 different directions (including my head circumference) and ask about my bra size and shoe size, take my mug shot, and send me off to wait for the audition to begin. No major humiliations so far.
Since I was there about half an hour before the audition time I had plenty of time to wait and people-watch. I saw a few faces I recognized from various BBS events (master classes and the summer program) and a lot more that I didn’t know. But from eavesdropping it seemed that there was a core contingent of super regulars who have done other shows. They all seemed very friendly, so that’s a relief! Also, I happened to be near the door to the studio and realized that I my favorite principal dancer was rehearsing while we were waiting. Squee!
The men were called in first. There were maybe 12-15 guys in all? Ages seemed to range from 20s to 60s. From what I could tell they all stood in a line and chatted for a bit with the powers that be, then that was it. Well, gee, okay then! This may be the easiest audition ever if that’s all it takes!
After the guys left we got the word to go in. Our line was much longer than the guys… I’d guess there were more like 30-35 of us? They started talking to us and I realized that the man doing the casting was the choreographer himself. WHAT?! Somehow I expected some sort of minion doing the casting. I mean, a very expert minion, of course, like a ballet master or mistress or something, but not the guy who actually choreographed the whole thing! He was accompanied by the assistant artistic director who didn’t say much, but spent most of the time furiously writing on a clipboard. No pressure. Nope, none at all.
The choreographer gave us a very short spiel on what he was looking for which, to be honest, I could barely hear. Then he split us into two groups and sent us off to opposite sides of the room. Then he asked that six people at a time run part-way across the floor, stop, look back, and then continue running off stage. The first group ran across and he called out two people to go stand next to the piano. The next group ran; one woman was called out to join the piano crew. Then it was our group. We ran… and he was all “stop, stop, stop!!!” Crap, what? “You are running too balletically! Just run normally!” Oh… damn. But hilarious at the same time. I mean, here we are auditioning for a part in a ballet and being told to stop acting like we’re dancers. We went back and tried again, and… he asked me to join the group by the piano! He continued this with all the other groups, then had those of us who had been pulled aside to stand. I think there were eight of us in all. Then he had us each go and sit on the prop bed and look, I don’t know, relaxed? sultry? something? It was a bit odd, but okay, we’re auditioning for a harem role, so not that odd! Then they had the remaining people run across the floor again.
And… that was it! They told us they had made notes and would be in touch. Hm. Okay.
All in all not a terrible audition experience even though I didn’t quite know what to make of it. I hoped that getting pulled aside meant good things, but didn’t want to count my chickens before they hatched.
And so… I waited.
For what seemed an eternity.
But in reality was only about 9 days.
And then I got an e-mail from the stage manager.
I was cast!
So that’s all the news I have for now, but I’m terribly excited to actually get to take part (however small) in a professional ballet production. I’ll keep you posted!